Grading each announced jersey number for new Buccaneers signings

Russell Gage, Atlanta Falcons (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)
Russell Gage, Atlanta Falcons (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images) /
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Keanu Neal, Atlanta Falcons (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

Keanu Neal – Wearing number 22 for the Buccaneers

In the case of Keanu Neal, he has a bit more of an uphill climb when it comes to making this number his own in the eyes of Bucs fans. Granted, the double-deuce doesn’t exactly have the most glamorous history as it pertains to the Buccaneers, except for one man, nay, one MUSCLE HAMPSTER Doug Martin. Apologies to Mr. Martin as he was never a fan of the glorious nickname.

Martin was one of the most beloved Bucs so with his being the case when Bucs fans think of the number 22, he will always be the first player that comes to mind. Given that Neal will see the field more than any other player that wore the number since Martin, it may look a little strange at first, especially on a defensive player.

There is a positive spin though.

Neal wore 42 during his one season with the Dallas Cowboys. However, he wore 22 during his five seasons with the Atlanta Falcons where and when he was at his best. He even made the Pro Bowl during the 2017 season.

Speaking of that season, it was in that year’s Wild Card round against the Philadelphia Eagles where Neal had an easy interception of a Nick Foles pass in the second, only to have the ball bounce off of his knee into the hand of Torrey Smith, which kept the Eagles in the game when it was starting to look like a runaway. Soon, the Falcons’ quest for back-to-back NFC crowns was over.

So in the spirit of being associated with Falcons’ misery, that alone bumps Neal’s 22 up a notch or two from where it normally would have been.