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The Loneliest Number: How five men made a jersey a tradition

By Tim Rohan, Daily Sports Editor
Published September 2, 2011

Stan did it, and he brought Braylon with him.

But the mood shifts when the father talks about how the Michigan community has treated his son. Many were up in arms when Braylon made a big deal about how Rich Rodriguez handed the No. 1 jersey to a freshman defensive back, in 2008.

“A lot of people want to know: why does Braylon have a say?” Stan says.

Stan sets the story straight real quick. When Braylon established the $500,000 scholarship fund for receivers to carry on the No. 1 tradition, it was the school that brought it to him in writing: you will be consulted on who gets to wear the jersey.

According to the Detroit Free Press, Carr and Braylon had set up requirements for the jersey: no freshmen, a suitable GPA and appropriate off-the-field conduct.

That day, Braylon had been touring ESPN when he was notified of the No. 1 jersey mistake and he was caught revealing his true emotion during an online chat: “I am already mad that Rich Rod gave the No. 1 jersey to someone other than (a) wide receiver, which is breaking tradition,” Braylon wrote.

John Falk, the man who has handled the No. 1 jersey since Bo was coaching, said that “it wasn’t Rich’s fault.” It was no one’s fault, really, he says.

Falk said that because of the limited amount of jerseys available to the team, it was available and so it was assigned. He later apologized to Braylon, explaining that neither he nor Rodriguez knew all of the particulars.

Fans went bezerk. The media had a field day. The No. 1 jersey does that to people. It had that affect on Braylon. Why else would he put up with his father’s torture to get to Michigan to have a shot at his dream?

So when Stan is asked, which of the three current Michigan wide receivers — Roy Roundtree, Junior Hemingway or Darryl Stonum — deserves to wear the number his boy worked so hard to earn, he doesn’t mince his words.

“When you talk about the guys who wore the No. 1 jersey, they had superior skill level — superior,” Stan says. “And they had tremendous work ethic. They were game changers. So I don’t think that question’s for me. I don’t think it’s for Braylon. I don’t think it’s for coach Hoke.

“What David Terrell, Braylon Edwards, Anthony Carter, Derrick Alexander, did — none of those guys — nobody had to wonder: ‘Have you done enough to wear that jersey?’

“It spoke for itself.”