Panthers rookie Jaycee Horn is the first player in the franchise to take advantage of the modified jersey numbering rules
CHARLOTTE – First-round pick Jaycee Horn became the first member of the Carolina Panthers to take advantage of the loosening of NFL rules regarding jersey numbering.
After being selected eighth overall in the 2021 Draft, Horn selected No. 8, at least in part as a tribute to NBA legend Kobe Bryant.
Horn announced his selection Saturday night with a photograph of himself wearing a picture of himself in a black No. 8 jersey and a tweet that read, “New beginnings. # 8Ball #RIPKobe.”
– Jaycee Horn (@ jayceehorn_10) May 8, 2021
The NFL recently changed the numbering rule to give players greater freedom in selecting jerseys. Cornerbacks, for example, are no longer banned from picking single-digit numbers, and can pick from 1-49.
Horn, the son of former NFL Pro Bowl wide receiver Joe Horn, could have gone in several directions. He wore No. 7 in his freshman year at South Carolina in 2018, then switched to No. 1 for the 2019 and 2020 seasons.
The No. 1 might not have been an option, with only Cam Newton, the 2011 Draft’s No. 1 overall pick, having carried him in Panthers history.
Jaycee Horn was chosen eighth overall by the Panthers from South Carolina. Getty Images
Horn ultimately settled on No. 8 after considering other numbers. When asked if he had considered the No. 24, which Bryant carried in the last 10 years of his career, before wearing the No. 8 in the first 10, Horn said: “It’s a great number, it’s definitely on my mind. I’m seeing those in the single digits, too.
“My brother told me about it on the way here, and it changed my mind a bit. Let’s see how it turns out.”
Horn gave an indication of what Bryant meant to him on January 27, when he posted a year and a day after his hero, Bryant, lost his life in a helicopter crash with his daughter Gianna and seven other people.
The Panthers don’t have a great history of players wearing the No. 8. The most significant was punter Brad Nortman, who carried it from 2012 to ’15.