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Andy Isabella And The 89 Reasons For His Jersey Number

The story behind Andy Isabella originally wearing No. 89 isn't particularly noteworthy. But it's getting there.

The 5-foot-9 Isabella does like that 89 was worn by a smaller superstar receiver in former Panthers and Ravens stud Steve Smith. "When I picked it," Isabella said, "I thought, 'Maybe I can be like Steve Smith.' "

Flash forward to the recent NFLPA Rookie Premiere photo shoot, to which Isabella (along with teammates Kyler Murray and Hakeem Butler) was invited. Smith was on hand, and Isabella got a chance to meet him and take a picture together.

"He was someone I looked up to," Isabella said. "That was a pretty special moment."

But again, Smith wasn't initially the reason Isabella ended up with 89. Originally, the team gave him No. 19 (Draft picks usually get asked, in order of the draft, what they'd like with the numbers still available at the time.) "I was thinking Ted Ginn," said Isabella of the fellow wide receiver (and former Cardinal) who, like Isabella, is from the Cleveland area.

But sixth-round wide receiver KeeSean Johnson was the 19th wide receiver taken in the draft, and Johnson was hoping to get that number. "I didn't really care," Isabella said, and gave the number to his teammate. At that point, the only number left available (receivers have to have a number either between 10-19 or 80-89) was 89.

It's been a minute since a Cardinals wide receiver who was on the 53-man roster did not have a number in the teens. The last wideout to do it was Early Doucet, who wore No. 85 in the 2012 season. Of course, Isabella could decide to switch after final cuts depending on who makes the team. He could in theory switch to the teens now if he wanted -- Malachi Dupre, who was wearing No. 15, was released Wednesday. But Isabella shook his head.

"I'm going to keep 89," he said.

Isabella 89 for blog