The Falcons have issued jersey No. 7 to a player for the first time since Michael Vick left the team in the wake of federal dogfighting charges in 2007.
Wide receiver Jeremy Ebert was wearing No. 7 when the Falcons took the field for their first training camp practice today. Ebert, 25, played in five games with the Jaguars in 2013.
Vick wore No. 7 for the Falcons from 2001 to 2006 and no player had worn the number since then even during training camp.
“Yeah, that’s what I heard,” Ebert said after practice. “So I guess I’ve got some big shoes to fill. I don’t know even know why I got seven. It’s not even a legal wide receiver number, but I’ll take it.”
The allowable range of numbers for NFL wide receivers to wear in games is 10-19, 40-49 and 80-89 (with exceptions allowed through appeal) but the number rule doesn’t apply during the preseason.
In July 2007 federal authorities charged Vick with felonies related to the operation of and participation in a dogfighting ring on his property in Virginia. Vick served a prison term of about 18 months.
The NFL suspended Vick indefinitely in 2007 and the Falcons released him in June 2009. Vick played for the Eagles from 2009 through 2013 and now is with the Jets.