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Perhaps the most surprising thing to come from the first half of the AFC Championship was CBS play-by-play announcer Jim Nantz “breaking the news” that Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins plans to switch from No. 85 to No. 5 next season.
The funny part is that Higgins announced this decision in September of 2021. At the time, he had planned to switch numbers this past offseason. However, making that decision on lesser notice means he has to buy out all of the Tee Higgins No. 85 jerseys for sale.
That’s a hefty sum. However, by giving the league two seasons of notice, it should come at a cheaper price for Higgins.
Higgins wore No. 5 in college at Clemson.
People on Twitter quickly shared this “breaking news” from 16 months ago.
There were also a lot of jokes about wearing #5 but for a different team.
Tee Higgins gonna look good in a number 5 pats jersey— Cooper (@CB727272) January 30, 2023
Tee Higgins said he wants his “own” Bengals number
Of course, the most famous Bengals player to wear No. 85 is Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson. Higgins cited that he wanted to carve his own path and not be compared to that No. 85.
“I just feel like Chad has done so much for this organization,” Higgins said in 2021, to the Cincinnati Enquirer. “I just have a good feeling his number is going to get lifted one day.”
Higgins continued (in 2021, remember), “I just want to make a name for myself. I keep seeing on Twitter (people say I am) ‘Ochocinco 2.0.’ I don’t want to be a 2.0. No disrespect to Chad. He’s a great receiver. I don’t want to be a 2.0 for myself. I want to be Tee Higgins 1.0, No. 5 and go out there and make a name for myself and this organization.”
“I mean, it’s cool. I like it,” Chad Johnson told CBS Sports. “Obviously, wanting to have his own identity and create his own identity with the Bengals is a good thing.
“Obviously, wearing the (No.) 85 – some of the stuff I’ve done throughout the years – you will always be compared to or associated with, you know, with myself. But it’s pretty cool. He’s gonna look good in that (No.) 5. And it’s the number he wore when he went to college.”
Bengals have to make tough decision on Higgins
Obviously, in a perfect world, the Cincinnati Bengals would sign Tee Higgins to an extension and pair him with Ja’Marr Chase for years to come. But with Chase and quarterback Joe Burrow needing big contracts in the near future, Cincinnati has to see if they can make the money work for all three.
Obviously, fans of other teams have noticed Higgins immense talent and the difficult task the Bengals have in trying to keep him.
They’re already lobbying for their front offices to make a move for Higgins, who the Bengals could trade to get some value rather than potentially lose him to free agency.
There is a lot to be decided in the Tee Higgins saga. But his number change is not one of them.
He decided that 16 months ago.
Follow Dan Zaksheske on Twitter: @OutkickDanZ