Melvin Ingram is the latest player to take advantage of the new NFL jersey number rules, and it looks like he’s paying tribute to Kobe Bryant with it.
The star outside lineback joins a vaunted Pittsburgh Steelers defensive unit that will look to build upon their success from last year. Ingram has been rehabbing injuries and hasn’t been the same player he once was, but he feels rejuvenated upon joining the Pittsburgh Steelers.
It isn’t clear if Ingram will be the starter ahead of Alex Highsmith, the Steelers third round pick from last year who became the starter, but with him Pittsburgh definitely gains some much needed depth.
TJ Watt, Alex Highsmith, Melvin Ingram, Devin Bush, Vince Williams, Robert Spillane… No one is stopping that wrecking crew. pic.twitter.com/exAepL5Kez
— SteelerNation (@SteeIerNation) July 19, 2021
Melvin Ingram Explains Why He’ll Be Wearing #8 Like Kobe Bryant
The NFL introduced a new jersey policy this year that has allowed players to wear numbers that they typicall aren’t accustomed to wearing. For example, many wide receivers and defensive players are now planning to rock single digits like Jaycee Horn, Eddie Jackson, and Robert Woods.
Melvin Ingram will also be capitalizing on the rule, and he’ll be wearing the number eight. Why? Well, it all has to do with Kobe Bryant, of course.
Ingram entered the league wearing the number 44 with the Los Angeles Chargers because if you added up four and four, you’d get eight. The same number that is so widely recognized with Kobe Bryant.
Now that Ingram has the full freedom to wear single digits, he will be taking advantage, paying tribute to Kobe by rocking his storied number eight.
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Ingram will try to make as much an impact as he can with Pittsburgh to honor Kobe’s legacy. Ingram was ecstatic to be a part of the Steelers organization. When asked about his role with the Steelers and playing alongside defensive stud TJ Watt, Ingram said:
“The best. Can’t forget about [Highsmith] either. He’s definitely special. It’s a blessing for me to be here to play on the opposite side of him and Highsmith. It’s just great to play with all these guys. I’m like a kid in a candy store.”
Ingram totaled an impressive 49 sacks, 7 fumble recoveries, 360 combined tackles and 108 quarterback hits during his time in Los Angeles with his best year coming 2017 when he racked up 10.5 sacks and a defensive touchdown.