Originally posted on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 6/13/12

University of Michigan Athletic Director David Brandon announced on Tuesday that the football team will honor 3 of their legendary players this year.  Bennie Oosterbaan’s #47, Gerald Ford’s #48 and Ron Kramer’s #87 jersey will all be put back into circulation for the 2012 season.

Bennie Oosterbaan

The 3 Michigan Football Legends will be honored with their names forever affixed to their famed jersey numbers. A patch over the left upper chest will be affixed to the jersey of all future players to earn the honor of wearing those numbers. The football staff has not determined which current players will wear the 47, 48 and 87 jerseys in 2012.

Oosterbaan, Ford and Kramer represent 3 of the 5 retired numbers in Michigan Football’s long and storied history. The idea to designate them as Michigan Football Legends was kick-started when U-M made Desmond Howard the first player to receive the honor in 2011. His #21 jersey, which was worn by Junior Hemingway last year, will also forever be commemorated with the patch on the upper left chest.

A quick rewind here on the 5 retired numbers is probably in order.

11: The number that was worn by all 3 Wistert brothers, who were All-American football players at Michigan; Francis, Albert and Alvin.

47: Bennie Oosterbaan was a 3-time All-American wide receiver, one of only two Wolverines to have achieved that feat (Anthony Carter being the other).

48: Gerald Ford, played center at Michigan from 1932 to 1934 and was named team MVP as a senior. He would later become the 38th President of the United States of America.

Ron Kramer

87: Ron Kramer, was a two-time All-American offensive and defensive end.

98: Tom Harmon, Michigan’s first Heisman Trophy winner and one of the greatest college football players of all-time.

“The success and acceptance of the Desmond Howard Legend recognition led to conversations with the family members who had retired jerseys, several of whom were never recognized or celebrated in the appropriate manner,” said Dave Brandon. “The Ford, Kramer and Oosterbaan families want to see their family member honored in this way. We have yet to have any discussions with the Wistert or Harmon families. This program is about tradition and legacy and this is a unique way to recognize these great Wolverines.”

The commemorative patch is not the only way these conquering heroes will be honored. Ford, Kramer and Oosterbaan will be featured in a special area to be designed and constructed in the soon-to-be renovated Schembechler Hall.  And, the lockers to be used by No. 47, No. 48 and No. 87 in both the Schembechler Hall and Michigan Stadium locker rooms will be customized to reflect the fact that Bennie Oosterbaan, Gerald Ford and Ron Kramer will forever be Michigan Football Legends.

Gerald Ford

This is a great way to honor those legendary players and to weave Michigan’s illustrious history into the present and ensure that it will forever be part of the future. The retired numbers were a nice gesture at the time, but this new direction will honor the legacy of those players in a unique way.

There will be four Michigan Football Legends honored this coming season.

21 – Desmond Howard: The #21 jersey will be worn by senior receiver Roy Roundtree
47 – Bennie Oosterbaan: to be announced
48 – Gerald Ford: to be announced
87 – Ron Kramer: to be announced

Certainly the University will have discussions with the Harmon and Wistert families and perhaps those treasured numbers will return to the field in the not so distant future.

Bravo to David Brandon and Athletic Department for launching this innovative idea.

This article first appeared on isportsweb.com and was syndicated with permission.

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