The Legend Of #22 – Syracuse Lacrosse

More Powell magic.

Editor’s note: I got to spend the weekend with Chazz Woodson and some of the Thai National Team. Chazz and I talked a lot of lax, and if there is one thing that I am certain of, it’s that Chazz Woodson is a passionate believer in lax.  Today, he has some advice for the Syracuse Lacrosse Nation. It’s 100% unsolicited, but we have to say, he does make a pretty good point!  The “legend” of #22 can only be a legend for so long, especially if it starts to dip back into reality. Did MP break the mold for the number? And what is Cuse to do? More importantly, is Chazz going to be the next superstar lax player/blogger?

Dear Syracuse Orange,

The #22.  Let it go.  It’s time to move on.

This has nothing to do with the quarterfinal game.  In fact, I’m rather disappointed as well.  Despite the fact that I became anti-Cuse (and pretty much anti any other team I competed against!) when I got to college, I grew up a Syracuse fan, and felt that there was nobody else around that played the Game like they did… the way it’s supposed to be played.

Additionally, for some reason, I love to see Maryland float in that “we’re good, but not really” realm… where they knock off a few teams each year and look great doing it, but then get knocked out of the tourney early.  I really don’t have any reason to
not like Maryland… But I don’t.

I think it’s just because I don’t like the color red very much. In fact, outside of Da Bulls (rally caps, let’s go!!!), I’m not really a fan of anything, or anyone, that is, or predominantly wears, red. But I digress…  Now back to the point!

‘Cuse, let’s move on from this need to bestow the #22 on anyone else. Besides putting unnecessary pressure on a kid (whether he feels it or not) to live up to that hype of that number, the reality is that he probably won’t. Plain and simple.  Do you realize what MP did in that number? Do you realize the havoc he wreaked on defenses? Do you remember the damage he did to ankles and egos wearing #22? Have you forgotten the looks on defenders faces, after missed slides resulted in goals?

Mikey Powell Nicky Polanco Syracuse Hofstra lacrosse

Powell v. Polanco in college.

Maybe that was just so commonplace at the time that it was just expected.  I don’t know.  I wasn’t there.  I only got to witness it
once a year, for 3 years.

Now keep in mind, I’m focusing on Mikey for a reason. And there were obviously GREAT 22s at ‘Cuse prior to Mikey.  That’s why he’s part of the legend. So I mean no disrespect to those that came before him.  Quite frankly, I mean no disrespect to the 22s that have come after him either.  They were all VERY good players.

But, for 4 years, MP was college lacrosse. He furthered the legend of #22 at the end of his career, just as he did it from day 1. There hasn’t been a player since Mike Powell that has put together the body of work that he has, nor is there a player that has commanded the attention of the lacrosse world the same way.


More Powell magic.

I’m not a part of the SU lacrosse family.  Maybe there’s a checklist that I don’t know about which qualifies a player to wear #22.

Maybe they notice a certain flare about a kid, and ask him if he wants it… I really don’t know.

But if the number is truly legendary, as I often hear people refer to it, then it should be worn only those that will be legends. Think about #23.  I don’t need to say names, or even name the sport.  It’s simply THAT iconic.  And NOBODY would wear it, regardless of what team they were on. I had coaches that wouldn’t even order the number, and friends that would clown you if you dared to put it on.  You were a “wannabe.”

It was a long time before it was considered OK to wear that number if it wasn’t on a Bulls jersey, and even now it’s still a little touchy. So if #22 is truly legendary, let’s wait until another legend steps foot on that campus.

And IF we are lucky enough find a high school player that is LeBronesue…  the LaxBron, if you will excuse the awful joke, AND YOU, Syracuse, are lucky enough to have him wear the Orange and White, then you will never have to question whether or not he’s deserving of the opportunity to further the legend.

You’ll just know. And then the only question to be asked will be whether or not he wants to wear his own number and start a new legend.

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  • I don’t understand the need for ‘Cuse to feel like they have to have someone wear #22.  Cody Jamison and Jojo Marasco were/are good players, but legends like the Powell’s or the Gait’s?  If you have someone special, give them the honor of wearing #22, but realize that you don’t always have someone special.  

    I think #3 at Notre Dame is a good example.  Great players have worn it in the past, but no one is wearing it now.  

  • Its a very good point. As a die-hard Cuse Lax fan, the #22 is a legend. If you aren’t careful who gets the honor of wearing that number the legends of the Gait’s and Powell’s that have worn #22 will eventually fade…

  • I like the tradition of great players getting #22, but I think there are just some years where it should be left out. Not to knock last year’s Syracuse squad at all, they worked together well as a team, but that meant that there wasn’t really one particular game-stealingly good player. #22 should be held out until another player arrives who plays like those who created the tradition.

  • Now I agree with a lot of what you are saying. MP and others before him who donned the 22 jersey made a huge impact on the sport. They were dominant, feared and could almost put the team on their back on the way to victory. We really haven’t seen that dominance in a 22 since MP. But to have Syracuse simply give up the number would be to give up tradition as well. For such a storied program such as Cuse…I think that would be a huge mistake. Tradition runs deep with the Syracuse program as it does with a lot of other programs. 22 is a symbol of Cuse’s dominance in the sport, and the lax community instantly connects with it. Whether you are a Cuse fan or not, you know what 22 stands for and its importance to the program.

    And I also understand that the most elite player should be given the honor of wearing the number. I also remember a year in which the number wasn’t worn by an Orange player and they had one of their worst seasons in recent history. So not to sound to superstitious, but it seems like tradition should just carry on.

    I also think that retiring the number would be a bad idea as well. Again, for those new legends that come to Syracuse, some may have actually dreamed of the chance to wear that number for the program. For the future MP or Gary Gait out there, should they be denied this honor as well just because the talent levels of the more current 22’s haven’t lived up to the hype of what once was???

  •  I agree with Adam. Retire the number is you’re concerned with tarnishing its legacy. I don’t think it makes any sense to pick and choose years where the number will not be worn. That’s an admission to your team that no one is good enough to wear the number; after Lockwood, Hardy, Jamison, and Marasco have worn it. Not sure that’s a message that any coach wants to send his players. Also, if you hold the number out of the rotation, there’s that much more pressure on the next “can’t miss” kid who puts it on. Furthermore, the crystal ball isn’t always so clear. I can think of a few projected stars that have been outdone by players on their own team.

  • Regarding the implication that the number will lose meaning… The number didn’t make the players… the players made the number.

    It doesn’t matter what number players like Gary Gait, Charlie Lockwood, and the Powells wore. All that matters was what they did.  Their legend is secure no matter who comes along to where the number.  

    I think Chazz is only looking at this from a single narrow perspective.  Why not view the awarding of 22 each year is a unique tribute to those who’ve made it “legendary”.  Along the way, other legends will appear but certainly no one expects that a game changing player will come along every couple of seasons.

    Tradition is a strong part of every lacrosse culture, why should ‘Cuse lose one of it’s most important modern traditions?

  • OK OK OK… Allow me to put this whole thing in context.
    Back in January, we were giving out uniforms for our high school guys.  Here comes the question.  What’s the most iconic number in lacrosse.  Of course the 2 ‘Cuse “affiliated” people said 22.  Ironically, they couldn’t point out other than the Gaits before the Powells.  I, partially because I’m like to play the hater role, and partially because I really believe it, argued that 22 was not THE number in lacrosse.  It’s up there, but it doesn’t carry the weight across programs etc.  Hockey has a number.  Soccer has a number.  Basketball has a number.  Lacrosse … ehhhhhh I still think that’s very specific to the school, and not the sport.  So that brings me to this post.  A few executive edits to the original letter, may have changed the tone a bit.  Maybe not, but my (apparently too subtle) nod to Family Guy, Blue Harvest was changed for grammatical precision.  And as such, I’m going to say that a LOT was changed, and it screwed up the post.
    I agree with most everything that has been said in the comments.  But in some ways they prove the point, that I probably did a poor job of making.  See, it’s not just Syracuse Lacrosse itself that makes this difficult.  It’s the rest of the lacrosse world that likes to talk about the number, particularly every time somebody new wears it.  Now … I don’t particularly care what happens with the number, but I think there are four viable options, and one of them should be made clear.
    1) Retire it.
    2) Elevate it to legendary status
    3) Let a particular “chosen” one wear it each year, or whenever they feel is the right time.
    4) Just let it remain in the regular rotation of jersey numbers.
    Here’s what I see as necessary for each option to work out.
    1) Retire: … Done.  Let it be.  Never to be worn again.  The problem is that, now you have to include everyone that wore it, or individually retire it for specific players and not others, because there’s no way that every player that has worn it deserves # retirement, and on the flip side, there are too many good ones to just say it’s everyone.  I’m sure there are ways around it, but it looks tricky to me.
    2) Legendary:  If it’s going to be legendary, WAIT for the next legendary player.  Part of this is the lacrosse community in general, though, that makes this a problem.  For all I know, maybe the SU family has never really thought of it along these lines.  I probably should have asked Sean this weekend, but I really didn’t care that much until somebody brought it up to me in discussing the game.  So maybe “we” are to blame for this, and “we” are the ones that need to let it go, which brings me to the next option …
    3) Chosen one:  If ‘Cuse decides they will pick a player to wear it (or offer it to), based on whatever criteria or sentiments they choose, cool.  More power to them.  But then the rest of us need to stop bringing up the “legend of 22” and all that stuff.  Just let the chosen player do his thing and keep it moving.  Maybe he’s the most dangerous scorer in college lacrosse.  Maybe he’s a nasty shutdown defender.  Or maybe he’s a guy that rarely plays but works his tail off and sets the example for the rest of the team day in and day out.
    4) Let it be:  Again, if this is the case, then that probably starts with the rest of “us” letting go of our own hopes and dreams of having another legendary player come along to wear it.
    Feel free to chop this up some more!

    • As a ‘Cuse “affiliate” I have to add a couple things to your comparison of #22 with other great iconic sports numbers like 99 or 23.  When you talk about 23 or 99 you think of the single greatest player ever to play their respective sport.  But that is where it stops.  When you bring up 22 in the lacrosse world, you are talking about 3 of the top 5 players of all time JUST FROM SYRACUSE. 
      The reason people have so much trouble handling the number 22 is because never has so much talent ever played under the same number for the same team in any other sport.  Yes #9 is a striker’s dream, but not even Pele wore that.  I agree that maybe we need to hold the number until the next Gait Brother or Powell arrives (I hear the next Powell is actually a great Hockey Goalie), but that may never happen.I believe ‘Cuse coaches and alumni have recently pushed players to don the #22 it in the hope it may make them better, but the reality is that great players made #22 what it is, not the other way around. 
      Another huge difference not to be over looked is that 22 is a college number.  We don’t get all excited when a pro picks it, mostly because the Gaits and Powell’s own it on the field, but because it’s lore is attached to the collegiate ranks not professional.  Look around any try to identify any other college sport where a single number carries as much weight as 22.  

      Regardless of the conjecture above the most important number for a Syracuse lacrosse fan right now is #12.  Gaining that next championship (yes 12, not 11) is the more important than discussing the fate of #22.  If having #22 available for SU recruits to wear will bring in that next 2x or 3x ring winning class, then keep it available, if not retire it. Because at the end of the day Syracuse lacrosse’s strongest tradition is winning championships and that number outweighs everything else. 


  • i do like jojo but he was not even the best attackmen on that team, keogh no doudt clutch game winners, if he (the best offensive player) doesnt want it than noone should get it or even have the option to have it unless they are the clear best player

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