Behind the Jersey Number: Robert Alford

Selected in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Atlanta Falcons, CB Robert Alford quickly become a key member of the Falcons defense playing in all 16 games in his rookie season, starting in four.

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, which got us to wondering if the players have a specific reason why they're wearing their current jersey numbers.

Falcons head coach Mike Smith announced Monday that cornerback Robert Alford will likely miss between two-to-four weeks of action following a wrist injury suffered in Sunday's Week 11 win. Clearly disappointed, Alford isn't defeated. The second-year cornerback will continue with his rehab, fueled by a work ethic that began at a very early age. 

Growing up in Louisiana, Alford lived with his mother, stepfather and older brother, also crediting his biological father for "always being in my life, too." Alford's first love was baseball, admitting that his mother worried about him getting hit in football and wouldn't let him play until the age of 13.

"When I started playing football, I fell in love with it," Alford said. "It became a dream of mine to make it to the National Football League." 

Alford's stepfather would help him develop the work ethic required to accomplish such a goal. The duo would run the stadium steps at nearby Southeastern Louisiana University, where Alford would later play, after grabbing 10 touchdowns as a senior at Hammond High School (La.). Staying close to home, and instead of running in the stands, Alford began starring on the field, starting 31-of-32 games for the Lions, logging impressive numbers, including 137 tackles, 20 passes defensed and 10 interceptions.

Alford's work ethic and success earned him a spot with the Falcons, selected in the second round (60th overall) of the 2013 NFL Draft. When it came time to choose his official NFL jersey number, his decision had already been made, years ago.

"I always wanted to be like my older brother (Fred Booker)," Alford said. "He played at LSU and made it to the National Football League. God blessed him to play in the league (New Orleans Saints) and he wore No. 23. Knowing that, I just wanted to keep the number going to represent my family."

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