Earlier this month, after two decades with the New England Patriots, Tom Brady changed teams for the first time in his storied NFL career. He won't be changing jersey numbers.
Brady's colors are now pewter and red, but he'll continue to wear jersey No. 12 as he begins his next NFL chapter with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. And that means one of the players to whom Brady will be throwing passes will have a new number in 2020. Wide receiver Chris Godwin, who has worn No. 12 since joining the Buccaneers in 2017, offered it to Brady, who gratefully accepted. Godwin, who is coming off his first Pro Bowl campaign, will switch to jersey No. 14.
Brady, of course, made the number 12 famous in New England, where he played 20 seasons and won an NFL-record six Super Bowl championships. Brady ranks as one of the most famous "Number 12s" in sports history.
Godwin spoke with Brady on the phone shortly after the signing became official. Godwin later discussed the possibility of giving up No. 12 in a Skype interview with Buccaneers Team Reporter Casey Phillips.
"Obviously, if he doesn't want it or isn't making a big deal about it, I'm definitely going to keep it," said Godwin. "But we'll see how that goes. I think just out of respect for what he's done, what he's accomplished, just kind of the career he's built for himself…you've got to kind of lean into that respect, you know?"
In the end, that's exactly what Godwin did. He later told Phillips that there was no transaction between him and Brady as part of the switch; he simply leaned into his respect for the future first-ballot Hall-of-Famer.
The Buccaneers did already have a player listed as 14 on the 2020 roster, but first-year man John Franklin only wore that number for the 2019 season finale because the team planned to use him on offense. As a cornerback on the practice squad for the previous six weeks, he had worn No. 43.
Even though he only had it for three seasons, Godwin is one of the most accomplished players in franchise history to wear No. 12. In those three years after being drafted in the third round in 2017, he caught 179 passes for 2,700 yards and 17 touchdowns, including a 1,333-yard campaign this past fall. The majority of those who came before Godwin as No. 12 were quarterbacks, including Trent Dilfer and both McCown brothers, Luke and Josh. The most famous No. 12 in Buccaneers history is currently quarterback Doug Williams, a member of the team's Ring of Honor at Raymond James Stadium, though Brady's arrival obviously changes that.
Now Godwin takes on a jersey number that, until Franklin's one-game cameo last year, had only been worn by quarterbacks in team annals. Vinny Testaverde is probably still the player most closely linked to that number in Bucs history, though Brad Johnson had the most success in it as the team's quarterback in the seasons surrounding its Super Bowl XXXVII victory. Most recently, other than Franklin, Ryan Fitzpatrick had some prolific games as number 14 for the Buccaneers.
It didn't take long for Tom Brady and Chris Godwin to figure out the jersey number situation in Tampa. Now they can start putting up big numbers together on the football field.