Darrelle Revis gave fellow safety Mark Barron $50,000 so that he could don Barron's former #24. Barron will now wear #23 for the Buccaneers. $50,000 is a mere fraction of Revis' $96 million contract, but it's the thought that counts here. A player's number goes beyond what you see on the depth chart: it's a source of their pride and honor both on the field and off.
Let us not forget the infamous Chad Johnson, who has worn #85 his entire career. He was so attached to his number that he went as far as to change his last name to Ochocinco in a move that surprised the entire NFL world. Although I never stopped referring to him as Chad Johnson, he made a statement with that name change, and a strong one at that. Last summer he changed his name back to Johnson, probably because he finally realized the absurdity of the name 'Chad Ochocinco'.
Both Johnson and Revis have shown us that as an athlete you are your number. It is what thousands of fans wear when they put on a jersey, and it is a way for someone in the nosebleeds to make out a player on the field. When a legend retires from the league, their number retires with them, and is honored by a banner, plaque, or statue of some sort. Just look at Michael Jordan's #23, perhaps one of the most recognizable numbers in all of sports. Or, for lacrosse fans, the #22 at Syracuse, which each Powell brother and Gary Gait wore during their playing days there. I will always associate #52 with Ray Lewis, and #20 with Ed Reed.
Revis didn't even wear #24 at the University of Pittsburgh, but it has come to define his NFL persona today. His recent number purchase from Mark Barron is not only an act of dominance and power over a subordinate teammate (especially considering he has yet to play a game for Tamba Bay), it is also a stark reminder that a large part of the legacy of an NFL star is their number.