As the trade neared its completion, Jay Feely and
Feely wore jersey number 3, Palmer’s number in college at USC and at his most recent NFL stop in Oakland. Zastudil wore 9, Palmer’s number for so many years in Cincinnati. But Feely got a heads up from an equipment man Palmer was looking for 3. So Feely got proactive.
He told Palmer he didn’t mind giving up the No. 3 as long as Palmer made a donation to his Feely Family Foundation, and when Palmer said yes, it was the second time Feely had traded his number to an incoming high-profile quarterback in Arizona – and the second time he really didn’t care.
Feely has more important issues on his mind.
“It really didn’t matter to me,” Feely said. “(The number) is an irrelevant thing to me in the grand scheme of things. If I can use that to build a couple of homes, great.”
Those homes are down in Haiti, where Feely now has visited three times helping those in need. Feely’s foundation helps needy kids in Michigan fund college opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have, but it’s also helped Feely’s newest campaign which is to help in Haiti.
Working with Mission of Hope, Feely has helped build homes for families who were previously living in tents with dirt floors, and rebuild churches. He has been part of groups that have provided desperately needed dental work. With former President Bill Clinton now involved, the group has made big inroads in helping the earthquake-ravaged country.
Feely’s most recent trip was just last month.
“I don’t think in our country we know what real poverty is,” Feely said.
“There is a lot of need in our country and we do a lot of work here, but when you see people like that ... I get people that say, ‘Why don’t you do this in the United States?’ My response is, ‘If not us, who?’ ”
His first trip to a third-world country – and the third-world problems -- were eye-opening. His uniform number never was a big deal to him. It’s even less so now.
Feely wore No. 4 when he first got to the Cardinals. That lasted a season, and when the team traded for Kevin Kolb, Feely gave up 4 for 3 when Kolb made a donation to his Foundation. Now Feely switches back with Kolb gone.
Sometimes, the swapping of uniform numbers can be a little more complicated. One-time Cardinals punter Jeff Feagles made it work for him once with the Giants when he gave up No. 10 to Eli Manning, and thought he had it work for him when he gave up No. 17 to Plaxico Burress. In Cardinals past, I remember cornerback Duane Starks not being too thrilled to have to give up No. 22 to Emmitt Smith, although that was going to happen regardless. The Cardinals once had a safety, Ifeanyi Ohalete, who while he was playing in Arizona was suing Redskins running back Clinton Portis. Portis never paid Ohalete for taking No. 26 after Ohalete was cut by Washington, which is how the Cards ended up with him. Former Card Adrian Wilson is trying to get his familiar No. 24 in New England by offering up a year’s supply of diapers to new father Kyle Arrington.
Feely just can’t get that tied to a jersey.
“I’ve seen mothers who don’t have food so they make mud pies for their kids just so they have something in their belly,” Feely said. “When you see that, it makes you not able to complain about the things we complain about.”
Or worry about what number you wear, for that matter.
“I’m in the NFL,” Feely said. “What’s a number? My kids are the only ones. They’re like, ‘Dad, we just got this (No. 3) jersey. But we’ll take care of that.”