No. 5 Giants rookie Kayvon Thibodeaux means a lot. It was the number he rocked in Oregon, earning All-American honors in the process. Thibodeaux was drafted the number 5 in the 2022 NFL Draft, giving the number special meaning. He even got it inked – Thibodeaux has a five mark tattoo on his hand to remind him of five of his closest friends.
Now he will also wear the numbers with the pros. Thibodeaux will wear the number 5 for the Giants, the team announced Tuesday morning. Kicker Graham Gano wore the number in 2021. He will instead wear the number 9 next season, a number he has worn at various points in his NFL career.
Jersey numbers often hold special meaning for beginners, providing a sense of familiarity to newcomers entering professional dressing rooms for the first time in their career. It cannot be overstated how important it is to wear a number that a player feels comfortable in. As the old saying goes, if you look good, you feel good.
Veterans are often aware of the value young players place on shirt numbers. Just as often, older players can pass on this knowledge by offering a younger player a number as a gift. It’s what Jeff Feagles did when Eli Manning wanted to wear it after he was picked #1 overall in the 2004 NFL Draft. Manning paid for Feagles and his family to vacation in Florida. Given Manning’s success with the Blue-Reds, it seems like a worthwhile choice.
Gano was no exception. Thibodeaux had to come right to get his desired jersey number. So Thibodeaux hooked him up.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Thibodeaux offered Gano a simple but thoughtful gift. Instead of asking Thibodeaux to pay him directly for number 5, Gano asked Thibodeaux to donate $50,000 to Puppies Behind Bars, an organization that provides service dogs for wounded war veterans and first responders.
To get the No. 5 from veteran kicker Graham Gano, Giants first-round winner Kayvon Thibodeaux donated $50,000 to Puppies Behind Bars, which provides service dogs for wounded veterans and first responders, as well as explosives detection dogs for law enforcement. pic.twitter.com/mbmK7lPrLJ
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) May 10, 2022
Gano comes from a military family, so choosing it for charity makes a lot of sense. Teammate Julian Love ripped with the 35-year-old kicker on Twitter, telling Gano that Nobu was depending on him going forward. However, Gano also had a good sense of humor and, as much as he would love Nobu, replied that the money would go to a good cause.
The money goes to charity, son, son. But I’m in the mood for some Nobu😆. Excited to say something to everyone @kayvont helped support tomorrow! https://t.co/KL0EoTVzsq
— Graham Gano (@GrahamGano) May 9, 2022
Thibodeaux isn’t the first rookie to get his favorite kit in the big leagues. Pittsburgh Neighborhood Kenny Pickett wore the No. 8 with Pitt throughout his collegiate career.
Pickett again got his pick of the throw and received the No. 8 over Steeler’s safety Karl Joseph. Neither Joseph nor Pickett revealed what Pickett had to offer Joseph to win the number. Nonetheless, it’s a move designed to help rookies like Thibodeaux and Pickett adjust to the pro game.
Now Thibodeaux is hoping he can find some of the magic that catapulted him to stardom during his college career. If everything goes according to plan, maybe he can blame the dogs.
$50,000 shouldn’t hurt Thibodeaux too much. Although the rookie hasn’t signed yet, Pro Football Network estimates his rookie contract will be worth a total of $36.2 million, a very pretty penny if I’ve ever seen one.