No one has worn No. 88 for the Lions since Charlie Sanders entered the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2007. First-round pick T.J. Hockenson requested the number of the greatest tight end in team history.
Sanders died in 2015 at the age of 68, but his family signed off on Hockenson wearing 88.
“It’s an incredible honor,” Hockenson said, via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. “Charlie Sanders was a great player here and just looking back and him being a Hall of Famer and doing a lot for this community, a lot for this team, for this organization, it’s a special number.”
Scotty Anderson, Reggie Swinton and Mike Williams wore the jersey number after Sanders’ retirement, which followed the 1977 season. But that was before Sanders earned enshrinement in Canton.
Hockenson wore No. 38 in high school and in college. As a tight end, he can’t wear that number in the NFL, which has rules for jersey numbers by position.
“It’s a big honor for me to be able to wear that number and just to be able to carry on his legacy,” Hockenson said of No. 88. “It really means a ton.”