When J.J. Watt officially suits up for the Cardinals, he most likely won’t be wearing No. 99.
But that’s not because one of Watt’s new teammates has squatted on the number and refuses to give it up, Michael Pittman Jr.-style. The Cardinals retired No. 99 in honor of former running back/fullback Marshall Goldberg.
After winning consecutive national championship at Pitt in 1937 and 1938 (his No. 42 for the Panthers also was retired), the Elkins, West Virginia native was a second-round draft pick of the then-Chicago Cardinals. He played for the Cardinals from 1939 through 1943, served in the U.S. Navy in World War II, and returned to the Cardinals in 1946, playing through 1948.
A seniors committee finalist for the Pro Football Hal of Fame in 2008, Goldberg ultimately was not elected. Goldberg died in 2006 at the age of 87.
In 2012, Peyton Manning managed to unretire No. 18 in Denver, when Frank Tripucka agreed to let it be worn again. But that cuts against the spirit of the retired jersey. If it’s retired, it’s retired. And it’s an awkward, no-win proposition for the player or the player’s family to be asked for permission to unretire the jersey.