Monday, June 30, 2014

Honoring Lutzenkirchen

Tough week to be a member of the Auburn Family. First, Jonathon Mincy, a Senior DB, was arrested Friday, June 27, on 2nd-degree marijuana possesion after being the passenger in a car going 94 MPH in a 65 MPH zone. Then, a much more difficult report was released: Beloved Auburn tightend Philip Lutzenkirchen was declared dead on the scene of his 3 AM car wreck Sunday morning. Lutz was the passenger in a car with four others, none of which were wearing their seat belts. Three people in the vehicle were ejected from the car, with the driver and Lutz dying from the incident. The driver was Georgia baseball player Joseph Ian Davis. The Auburn Family mourned the loss of the fan favorite Tiger with many memorial tweets, Facebook posts, and even an impromptu rolling of the trees surrounding the famed Toomer's Corner.


(IMPORTANT: I am in no way trying to minimalize the death of Philip Lutzenkirchen. This is simply to help get passed the events. People grieve in many different ways. This is how I and many other people have done so.)


Zachary Bland

You may be asking "What does this have to do with uniforms?" And you'd be right in asking that. I didn't want to write a full post in remembrance of Lutz on this site for many reasons. Too many to go in to. But, to answer your question, this tragic event could very well have an impact on Auburn's uniforms. 

Many people were claiming that Lutzenkirchen's #43 should join the retired numbers list. Lutz was a wonderful player on the field, but there are a lot of wonderful players that don't get their number retired. Not every number can be retired. A college football team has upwards of 125 or so players, and jersey numbers can only be up to 99. Even with duplicate numbers, a retired jersey number causes some issues when numbering players. Sadly, many players die. You just can't retire a number because of something like that. It doesn't make the number any less meaningful to people. 

Another suggestion was to award the #43 jersey to a player that personifies everything that Lutz stood and lived for. Now I think this is how it should work. Many teams do very similar awards in terms of numbers. Certain players get to wear a certain number for either the game, a season, or his career. Texas A&M awards a #12 jersey in honor of their 12th Man tradition. 

Michigan has gone a little different direction. Michigan used to have six retired numbers, but has since recirculated them transitioning them to "Legends" status. When Michigan deems a former player "Legend," a player is chosen to wear their then-retired number. The player also wears a Legends patch on the left chest of the jersey, indicating the player that made the number famous to begin with. Desmond Howard's #21 was the first to be included in the Legends program, when it was un-retired in 2011.

I think the best way to go about honoring Lutz and former #43-wearer Auburn legend James Owen is to reward the jersey to a player that has carried himself in a way that Lutz would have. A player that works hard, is passionate about his game, enjoys life to its fullest, gives to others, and every other characteristic of Philip Lutzenkirchen that we've heard about this past weekend in the stories remembering him. Allow the coaches, players, or the Lutzenkirchen family, or a combination of the three, to decide who ultimately gets to wear the special number. I would not be upset if the player awarded the number also dons a patch similar to the Michigan Legends patch. Maybe something like this: 




You don't retire a number for what the player did off the field. You honor the man for the way he lived his life on and off the field. And if anyone deserves to be honored for that, it would be Philip Lutzenkirchen. 





RIP Lutzy
+Auburn Athletics

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