NFL to decide if Bush jerseys will carry No. 5

Updated: May 2, 2006, 1:30 PM ET
By Darren Rovell | ESPN.com

Reggie Bush came in second in Saturday's NFL Draft, but he's apparently first in jersey orders.

The Associated Press reported Monday that Reebok has received a record 15,000 orders for New Orleans Saints jerseys with Bush's name on the back. That's more than double the number of jerseys the company had taken for last year's No. 1 pick, Alex Smith.

Fans ordered these Bush jerseys without knowing what number they will carry. That will likely be determined Tuesday, when the NFL competition committee meets and decides whether to allow the former USC running back and 2005 Heisman Trophy winner to wear No. 5, as he desires.

Bush's marketing agent, Mike Ornstein, told ESPN.com he believes there's great value in Bush being able to keep the number. National Subway commercials already refer to Bush as No. 5.

"Based on the conversations I've had with members of the competition committee today, I do believe that they will allow Reggie to wear that number," Ornstein said.

Although Bush has worn No. 5 since high school, NFL rules do not permit running backs to take that number. In 1973, the league crafted a numbering system so officials could better recognize players by their positions. Quarterbacks are allotted Nos. 1 through 19. Running backs wear Nos. 20 through 49, and wide receivers and tight ends wear Nos. 80 through 89.

The league has recently loosened its rules on wide receivers, reportedly due to the volume of retired numbers at the position combined with the number of players at that position.

In 2004, running back Edgerrin James, then playing with the Indianapolis Colts, unsuccessfully petitioned for No. 5.

Backup quarterback Adrian McPherson wore No. 5 for the Saints last year.

Darren Rovell, who covers sports business for ESPN.com, can be reached at Darren.rovell@espn3.com.

Darren Rovell | email

ESPN.com Sports Business reporter

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