Behind the Jersey Number: Devin Hester

One of the many great sights on game days is watching countless Falcons fans fill the Georgia Dome and away stadiums, wearing the jersey of their favorite player, which got us to wondering if the players have a specific reason why they're wearing the number that is on the front and back of their jersey. Falcons WR Devin Hester's wears No. 17, thanks to a tight family bond and some math.

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The Atlanta Falcons signed Devin Hester as a free agent on March 20, 2014 and once the season began, it didn't take long before his number was called on offense; he scored in the team's second preseason game, a 12-yard TD reception in the second quarter against the Houston Texans. The TD was just a brief sign of things to come in the regular season.

So far in 2014, Hester has covered a lot of ground, via 14 catches for 212 yards and a touchdown, two carries for 23 yards and another TD and the NFL record-setting highlight, his 20th-career non-offensive score, a 62-yard punt return in Week 3 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Don't forget, Hester also recorded a tackle, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery in that historic Week 3 game against the Bucs. Truly, he has been all over the field, proudly wearing No. 17, a jersey number with significance. "I added my birthday and subtracted from my wife's birthday and my youngest one's birthday" Hester said about choosing his jersey number. 

WR Devin Hester's football career was impressive even before the NFL. Take a look back at photos from Hester's days playing for the University of Miami Hurricanes.

He wore jersey No. 23 with the Chicago Bears (2006-13), as well as in high school, where he starred for Suncoast High (Riviera Beach, Fla.), rushing for 1,014 yards and 12 TDs on 94 carries, while gaining 1,028 yards on 38 catches with nine TDs in addition to throwing for five TDs and 225 yards in his senior season.

Because Hester joined the Bears as a cornerback, he was allowed to wear the No. 23 even after switching to the wide receiver position. Once he joined the Falcons, however, he wasn't allowed to make an offer to cornerback Robert Alford for the number per NFL rules pertaining to which positions can wear which numbers.

Following high school, Hester moved on to thrive with the Hurricanes at the University of Miami, wearing jersey No. 4, playing offense, defense and special teams from 2003-05, starting games at cornerback, nickelback, running back and fullback, while seeing time at wide receiver and returning punts (four touchdowns) and kickoffs (two touchdowns).

Of all the jersey numbers Hester has worn, the one he likes best is whichever one his many fans are wearing.

"It's a big compliment," Hester said. "I grew up wearing NFL jerseys. You wear whoever your favorite player is; you want to wear their jersey. It means a lot to know I have fans our there, supporting me by wearing my jersey."

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