Quarterback Connor Cook
Picking a number to wear on your jersey can sometimes be a difficult decision, maybe you're unsure of what you want, or maybe a specific number holds a personal significance. Growing up, rookie quarterback Connor Cook changed numbers a few times, before ultimately deciding to wea No. 8 for the Oakland Raiders.
Over the course of his life, Cook has paid homage to a variety of sports icons he's looked up to. When he reached high school, Cook decided to wear the No. 3 in honor of one of his favorite basketball players.
"I felt like three was the coolest number to wear, and because of Allen Iverson," said Cook. "I was a big Allen Iverson fan, so I wore that in high school."
Iverson served as the first of many players Cook would share a number with. Upon joining the Michigan State Spartans, Cook was assigned number 18, and it stuck with him for the duration of his career there.
"When I got to Michigan State they just gave me 18, I didn't ask, no one asked me," said Cook. "I just showed up to the first day of practice, the first day of work outs, and there was Cook, number 18."
Cook was fine with the number, even though it didn't hold any weight to him on a personal level. The number became a piece of who he was at Michigan State, where he threw for 9,194 yards, with 71 touchdowns, and 22 interceptions, during his college career.
The Spartan had a successful college career, and was able to limit his interceptions to 11 less than fellow No. 18, and future Hall of Famer, Peyton Manning. Cook didn't say Manning was the inspiration behind the number, but recognized the greatness of the quarterback.
"I just stuck with it, thought it was a cool number," said Cook. "Obviously Peyton Manning is a great quarterback. That's like the most popular 18 to play the game, so I just stuck it out."
After concluding his college career, Cook was selected in the fourth round (100th pick) of the 2016 NFL draft by the Oakland Raiders. For the first time since high school, Cook was able to freely choose the number of his liking.
Unfortunately, Cook's preferred number, 18, was occupied and unavailable, so instead he opted go with No. 8. Ironically, his predecessor at Michigan State was Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins who also wears No. 8. Aside from Cousins, there was another player that Cook was a fan of growing up.
"Kirk Cousins wears eight, I was also a big Troy Aikman fan growing up," Connor said with a smile. "I always wore a Troy Aikman jersey growing up."
Cook has gone the majority of his life admiring the work of athletes before him, none of which have held any true importance to him. Now as a proud member of the Silver and Black, the rookie quarterback has found a number he can call his own.
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