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Why Does Alabama Have 28 on Their Helmets

Why Does Alabama Have 28 on Their Helmets?

When it comes to college football, few teams have achieved the level of success and dominance as the University of Alabama. The Crimson Tide, as they are commonly known, have a rich history filled with championships and accolades. One distinctive feature of Alabama football is the number 28 displayed on their helmets. This article delves into the significance of this number and why it holds a special place in the hearts of Alabama fans.

The story behind the number 28 dates back to the early 1960s when Alabama was under the leadership of legendary coach Paul “Bear” Bryant. In 1963, Bryant recruited a young African-American athlete named Wilbur Jackson from Ozark, Alabama. At the time, Alabama was still struggling with racial integration, and Jackson became the first African-American player to sign a football scholarship with the Crimson Tide.

Despite facing racial tensions and discrimination, Jackson persevered and became a trailblazer for future black athletes at Alabama. He wore the number 28 throughout his college career, leaving a lasting impact on the program. The number became a symbol of breaking barriers and overcoming adversity, representing the progress Alabama had made in racial integration.

Since Jackson’s time, the number 28 has continued to hold a special significance in Alabama football. It has become a tradition for the Crimson Tide to honor the legacy of Jackson and other African-American players who followed in his footsteps by wearing the number on their helmets. The number serves as a reminder of the team’s commitment to inclusivity and the role it played in shaping the history of college football.

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The number 28 is not only a symbol of racial integration but also represents excellence on the field. Over the years, Alabama has produced numerous standout players who have proudly worn the number. Notable players like Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson, and Damien Harris have all donned the number 28 during their time at Alabama. These players have not only achieved personal success but have also contributed to the team’s championship legacy.

The decision to display the number 28 on the helmets is a testament to the pride and respect Alabama has for its history. It serves as a constant reminder to current players of the sacrifices made by those who came before them and the responsibility they have to uphold the program’s values. The number 28 is a symbol of unity, perseverance, and the pursuit of excellence.


Q: What other symbols or traditions are associated with Alabama football?
A: Alabama football is known for several iconic symbols and traditions. The team’s mascot is an elephant, which originated from a comment made by a sportswriter in the 1930s, describing Alabama’s powerful and relentless play as “like a herd of elephants.” The “Roll Tide” chant is also synonymous with Alabama football, and fans can often be heard shouting it during games. Additionally, the tradition of “The Walk of Champions” involves the team walking through the crowd of fans before each home game.

Q: Are there any other numbers honored on Alabama’s helmets?
A: While the number 28 holds a special significance, Alabama has also honored other numbers on their helmets throughout the years. Number 18, for example, is awarded to a player who displays exceptional leadership qualities both on and off the field. This tradition started in the 2009 season when quarterback Greg McElroy wore the number. The number 92 is also recognized as a tribute to the late Derrick Thomas, a legendary linebacker who played for Alabama and later had a successful career in the NFL.

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Q: How successful has Alabama football been over the years?
A: Alabama football is widely regarded as one of the most successful programs in college football history. The team has won numerous national championships, with the most recent one being in 2020. As of 2021, Alabama has won the national title a record 18 times. The Crimson Tide has also produced numerous Heisman Trophy winners and has made regular appearances in prestigious bowl games. Alabama’s success can be attributed to the dedication and talent of its players, as well as the leadership of its renowned coaches.

In conclusion, the number 28 on Alabama’s helmets represents a powerful symbol of racial integration, excellence, and the program’s storied history. It pays homage to Wilbur Jackson, the first African-American player to sign a football scholarship with the Crimson Tide, and serves as a reminder of the progress made in college football. This tradition is a testament to Alabama’s commitment to inclusivity and the values it holds dear. As the Crimson Tide continues to dominate the gridiron, the number 28 will forever be a cherished symbol of their legacy.

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