Indianapolis Colts hand out Unitas’ #19 to rookie wide receiver
Have you ever heard of Kole Heckendorf? Don’t worry, neither have most people. Heckendorf is a wide receiver on the Colts roster who has bounced around in his two years in the NFL. He signed as an undrafted free agent with the Packers, but has worn jerseys for the Lions, Seahawks and Chargers before landing with the 0-5 Colts this season.
What does any of this have to do with Baltimore sports? Heckendorf has been handed the illustrious number 19 jersey worn by Baltimore Colt great Johnny Unitas.
It’s been no secret that the Irsays have not cared about the tradition of football in Baltimore. When the team moved out, the colors, logos and history went with them to Indianapolis.
However, for nearly every professional sports franchise, numbers of Hall of Fame players (especially those that help put the entire league on the map) are retired out of respect. Unfortunately, it seems that the late Unitas has not been given that luxury.
Maybe it’s because Unitas asked for his Hall of Fame display to be removed unless it could belong to the Baltimore Colts or maybe the franchise doesn’t think it’s a big deal to have Unitas’ jersey worn if he never played in that city. Either way both Baltimore and whatever city calls themselves the Colts should have the decency to give Unitas the respect he deserves and keep the number retired.