Eddie George's No. 27 is already retired by Ohio State, and now it will be retired by his NFL team, too.
The Tennessee Titans announced Wednesday that they are retiring George's number, making them the first team in the NFL to retire the number 27.
George ranks among the Titans' all-time greats, rushing for 10,009 yards and 60 touchdowns in eight seasons with the franchise, and was a four-time Pro Bowler. Now, he joins former Titans quarterback Steve McNair (No. 9) in becoming the seventh and eighth players to have their number retired by the Titans/Oilers organization, joining Jim Norton (No. 43), Elvin Bethea (No. 65), Earl Campbell (No. 34), Mike Munchak (No. 63), Bruce Matthews (No. 74) and Warren Moon (No. 1).
“Steve and Eddie will be forever linked as two of the driving forces for our team in the late 90’s and early 2000’s,” Tennessee Titans owner Amy Adams Strunk said in a team release. “They were the heart and soul of the team and each made the other a better player and ultimately led to a great deal of team success. Their statistics will forever live in our record books, but their play and sacrifice is what our fans will always remember. For that and all that they have done for our team, the number 9 and 27 will be retired with the all-time franchise greats.”
George described the recognition from the Titans as a "huge honor" and said in a press conference on Wednesday that he was proud to be sharing the honor with his former teammate McNair, who was killed in 2009.
"We were always linked at the hip during our playing careers, we've been through a lot of wars together both on and off the field, and to go down this day in history, to have our jerseys retired on the same day is huge for us," George said.
George was already one of only seven players to have their numbers retired by Ohio State, in recognition of his 1995 Heisman Trophy, along with Les Horvath (No. 22), Vic Janowicz (No. 31), Howard "Hopalong" Cassady (No. 40), Archie Griffin (No. 45), Chic Harley (No. 47) and Bill Willis (No. 99). Ohio State has since stopped the practice of retiring numbers, although Troy Smith's No. 10 is also enshrined in Ohio Stadium in recognition of his Heisman Trophy win.
Other former Ohio State players who have had their numbers retired by NFL teams include Lou Groza (No. 76, Cleveland Browns), Jim Parker (No. 77, Indianapolis Colts), Jim Marshall (No. 70, Minnesota Vikings), Korey Stringer (No. 77, Minnesota Vikings) and Cris Carter (No. 80, Minnesota Vikings), but George is the first – and will likely be the only unless Ohio State begins retiring numbers again – player to have his number retired by both Ohio State and an NFL team.
The No. 27 has held a special place in George's heart since his career at Ohio State, where he received the number in lieu of the No. 6 he had hoped for, and now, it will forever stand as a symbol of his greatness with both the Buckeyes and the Titans.
"I'm going to make something out of this number," George said of receiving No. 27 after Ohio State initially assigned him No. 38. "And I kept it, and it just went from there. Never thought about changing when I got to be a professional or anything of that nature, it was just something that stuck with me, just looks good. And to have the only 27 that's retired in the history of the NFL, man, that speaks volumes."
Titans head coach Mike Vrabel, who played with George at Ohio State, said he felt lucky to have George as a teammate and offered his congratulations to George on Wednesday.
"When I came into Ohio State ... I knew that this guy knew how to work, and I knew that if I wanted to get to play this game for a living, that I would have to learn how to work like Eddie George and train like Eddie George," Vrabel said.