Allen Park — When Mike Ford takes the field this season, Lions fans will notice the fourth-year cornerback sporting a different jersey number — No. 2.
For Ford, the switch is significant. It’s the same number his childhood friend Demonte Wigfall wore in high school, before he was killed in a car crash in February 2016.
“It was kind of a thing back home where like everybody, pretty much, after he passed away put on the No. 2,” said Ford, who grew up playing basketball and football with Wigfall.
“I wore No. 4 (at Southeast Missouri State) because that was my high school number. But finally being able to transition, put on that number for him, yeah, it means something to me. It’s very meaningful.”
With the NFL relaxing its restrictions and expanding eligible jersey numbers for certain positions this offseason, Ford was able to make the change, with defensive backs allowed to choose from 1-49.
Ford had worn No. 38 since joining the Lions as an undrafted free agent in 2018. But this season, he’ll don No. 2 for the first time in his career.
“It’s been a while, so it didn’t hit me as it hit me when it first happened,” Ford said Monday. “But just being able to (have) it and let everybody back home know that I have this number on for him and it’s still a living-on thing. His mom reposted it and everybody, a lot of people showed a lot of support, and that’s why I have a lot of people back home that are buying this jersey.”
Coach Dan Campbell said cornerback Quinton Dunbar remains out with a personal issue and has stayed in touch with the team during his absence.
“We know where he’s at,” Campbell said. “We know what’s going on and we’re thinking about him.”