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Marcus Mariota chose No. 0 as 'reminder' to prove doubters wrong


Marcus Mariota didn't know he was making history when he chose to wear the No. 0 jersey with the Washington Commanders. His brother and mother broke the news to him with a news clip from Hawaii News Now reacting to the news.

It turns out that Mariota will be the first quarterback in the NFL to ever wear the jersey number.

The NFL tweaked its jersey number policy in 2023 to include the No. 0 as an option for skill players for the first time since 1973. About two dozen players chose to wear a zero on their uniform last year, including D'Andre Swift, Calvin Ridley and Roquan Smith, with reasons ranging from the bragging rights of being the first to wear the number to symbolizing a rebirth for their careers.

So, what about Mariota? There are a few reasons, one of the biggest being that it serves as a motivation to prove his doubters wrong.

"Zero is something for me that's just a reminder," Mariota said. "I'm in year 10. People don't think I can do it anymore. It's just kind of a reminder everyday of 'nobody really gives you a chance.' And it's cool to be able to remind yourself."

Mariota, the No. 2 overall pick by the Tennessee Titans in 2015, comes to Washington with 15,820 yards, 93 touchdowns and a completion rate of 62.7%. He's appeared in 90 games, 74 of which featured him as a starter. Prior to that, he was one of the most successful quarterbacks in program history at Oregon, where he named a Heisman Trophy winner and claimed records in career touchdowns in the Pac-12 (135), career total offensive yards for Oregon (13,089) and career passing touchdowns (105).

All of that was done while wearing No. 8, which has a special meaning to Mariota. He started wearing the number when he was playing soccer as a kid. His coach threw him a jersey with the No. 8 on it, which he ended up growing to love because it paid homage to the eight major islands of Hawaii, where Mariota was born.

That number was unavailable when he signed with Washington since Brian Robinson Jr. has worn it since his rookie season. It isn't the first time Mariota has played with a number other than eight. He had a similar situation with the Falcons in 2022, when he wore No. 1 so Kyle Pitts could keep wearing No. 8.

Commanders receiver currently wears No. 1, meaning that option was out, too. So, Mariota chose zero, partially out of respect for Robinson.

"I talked to Brian about it," Mariota said. "Brian deserves that number."

And Mariota can still rock the No. 8 to honor his home state in his own way at practice.

"I wanted to just tape something across it so it'd look like in an eight."

As Marcus Mariota gets ready for the 2024 season, take a look back at some of the previous stops in his career. (Photos via The Associated Press)

The Commanders own the No. 2 overall pick in this year's draft, and there's a high probability that they will use it to take a quarterback. Whether he ends up beating out that rookie or being the backup, Mariota intends to fill whatever role is assigned to him and do it to the best of his ability.

And he wants to show that zero still has value.

"We're all building this thing together, and the best version of myself can hopefully help whoever on this team," Mariota said. "And then we'll just try to build this up the right way."

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