Originally posted on Fox Sports Detroit  |  Last updated 6/12/12
Talk about the Presidential treatment. For one member of the 2012 University of Michigan football team, that's exactly what they'll be getting this fall, honoring former U.S. President Gerald Ford by donning his No. 48 jersey for the season. When Michigan made a decision to hang up the last of its five retired uniforms in 1994, Ford's No. 48 was among the immortalized numbers. Ford is one of just five former U.S. Presidents to play college football --- the others were Ronald Reagan, John F. Kennedy, Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon -- and was named team MVP as a linebacker in 1934. For 18 years, the honored Wolverines numbers stayed retired, hanging in Schembechler Hall and trapped in a numerical quarantine. That quarantine will be lifted for the 2012 season, when the university starts putting retired numbers into circulation as a designated "Michigan Football Legend." "That is something we're doing a lot of thinking about, and we're doing that," Michigan coach Brady Hoke said on 94.5 WJOX-FM, in Birmingham, Ala. "We're honoring Desmond Howard now every year with one of our players who really deserves it. (This year) that's Roy Roundtree wearing No. 21. "We're going to do the same with Gerald Ford's jersey here this year." Howard's No. 21, worn by Junior Hemingway last season, has not been officially retired by Michigan. Tom Harmon (98), Bennie Oosterbaan (47), the Wistert Brothers (11), Ron Kramer (87) and Ford have been retired. The commemorative No. 48 uniform, like the No. 21 Howard jersey, will feature a football legends patch on the upper left chest to honor the former Michigan greats. "I think it's a much better way to memorialize and honor those folks," Brandon told The Detroit News. "In making the decision in how to do this going forward, I have consulted with people who follow the program and consider themselves experts. I would simply say, 'Name the numbers and the players that have been retired.' They may name one or two, but they can't name all five. "The jerseys are displayed in a dusty cabinet in Schembechler Hall, and it just makes no sense to retire numbers. The rosters are large, and we need the numbers. The other thing we can't show people yet is we're going to create in the soon-to-be renovated Schembechler Hall is this new 'Legends Area'. It will be spectacular. It won't be a walk-in whenever you want, but from time to time it will be open for public view. "But make no mistake, this is not something we're going to do every year. We want it to remain as special as a retired jersey." The university hasn't announced which player will wear Ford's number.
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