Joshua Henschke: Harmon’s name and legacy speaks for itself, no need to reissue jersey

Who gets it?

If you don’t know who Tom Harmon is and are unaware of his legacy at the University of Michigan, turn in your fan card to the Michigan ticket booth immediately. Harmon, Michigan’s first Heisman winner and one of the finest to ever play football for UM, will have his jersey reissued next season for Under the Lights 2.0 against Notre Dame.

An honest gesture and wonderful tribute to his legacy, I am sure. But some numbers should be permanently shelved. Harmon is one of them.

I support the decision to honor Harmon, but I feel it should be done in a different way. The fact that UM will hand out his number 98 to represent his legacy and hold high standards that Harmon once did is unfair to the player who receives the honor. For the rest of the season, the player — presumably a running back — will be always be known as the player who is “representing Harmon” and will be examined under a microscope. Thus adding more pressure to the player, just let the kids play football.

There’s no denying that wearing the 98 is considered one of the highest honors in the Michigan program — much like numbers 1, 2, 11, 21, etc. — but when is enough truly enough? What is considered sacred anymore?

Harmon is already a Michigan legend. His Heisman trophy in his trophy case is enough to solidify that fact. I understand the attraction a ceremony and jersey revealing would add excitement to the stadium — and bottom line, looking at you Dave Brandon — but reissuing a jersey that has been stored in the vault for years doesn’t make sense, especially one of those that holds great value to the program. Just store it away in a glass case in Schembechler Hall.

Harmon was a player who received a standing ovation from the Ohio State crowd in 1940. That says something. Having a rival school — who absolutely hate your guts — give you a standing ovation is legendary in itself. Something that hasn’t happened since and will probably never happen again.

The same argument can be made for all of the recent jersey reissues. It’s a neat idea for the players and a huge honor for them, but it disrupts history. We all know how important history and tradition is to the Michigan football program.

With all things considered, if the Harmon jersey issue turns out to be a one-and-done type of event, then that is acceptable. My fears is that the coaching staff will be forced to hand out the jersey number every season — possibly to kids who may not to be ready to grasp the honor — which will anger the alumni and would ruin the sanctity of the number and what is left behind.

Tom Harmon is a Michigan legend and deserves to be honored. Dave Brandon will create a grand event for the unveiling. Some things are better left untouched, his sacred jersey number is one of them.

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