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Behind the Jersey Number: Ra'Shede Hageman

One of the many great sights on game days is watching countless Falcons fans fill the Georgia Dome and away venues wearing the jersey of their favorite player. We thought it was worth asking Falcons players if there is a specific purpose for selecting the jersey number that they are currently wearing, including defensive end Ra'Shede Hageman.

Among the season-high five sacks recorded by Atlanta's defense on Sunday against Saints quarterback Drew Brees, one belonged to Hageman. The rookie defensive end showcased pure strength and power to blow by Saints veteran right guard Jahri Evans before bringing Brees to the ground.

Hageman's first-career NFL sack gave fans just another look at him in No. 77, a jersey number the rookie may or may not decide to keep.

"The team asked me what jersey number I wanted," Hageman said. "(Falcons defensive end) Tyson Jackson has No. 99, and I'm trying to get that back for next year. We're still in discussions about how I'm going to get that back, but 77 was pretty much what I decided to pick. I wore No. 88 in high school and No. 99 in college, so 88, 99 and now 77. It's debatable if I want to stay with No. 77 and build my legacy with it or go back to 99."

Sticking with the apparent numbers theme, Hageman admitted that wearing No. 99 at the University of Minnesota made him feel special.

He recorded 10 sacks and 24 tackles for loss in 46 games in the double-nine jersey. By comparison, he's currently played 15 NFL games in No. 77, logging stats that include 12 tackles, four assists, three blocked kicks and one sack. While the rookie hasn't completely decided against his current jersey number, he did offer proper perspective on why he might stick with it.

"It's a brand new start, having a brand new number," Hageman said. "You obviously want to put a good resume together while wearing it. By the end of the year, when people speak of 77, I want them to say great things."

We'll be sure to keep you posted on the latest discussions between Hageman and Jackson.

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