NFL Rules Regarding Player Numbers


The National Football League has rules pertaining to the numbers individual players can wear, depending on position. The rules are very strict and a team can be penalized if a player lines up in a position with the wrong number on his jersey.

Quarterbacks and Running Backs

  • The offensive backfield consists of quarterbacks and running backs. Quarterbacks can have any number between zero and 19. Running backs can have any number between 20 and 49.


  • Wide receivers and tight ends catch the ball. Wide receivers can wear any number between 10 and 19 and 80 to 89. Tight ends must wear a number between 80 and 89.

Offensive Linemen

  • The center, guards and tackles populate the offensive line. The offensive linemen wear numbers between 50 and 79.

Defensive Linemen

  • Defensive ends and defensive tackles (also known as nose tackles) comprise the defensive line. Technically, they can wear any number between 50 and 99, although very few wear numbers in the 80s.


  • The defensive linebackers can be relegated to the inside (middle) or outside. Linebackers wear numbers between 50 and 59 or 90 to 99.

Defensive Secondary

  • Cornerbacks and safeties (strong and free) make up the defensive secondary, also known as the defensive backfield. They can wear any number between 20 and 49.

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