ATLANTA — To honor the memory of Hank Aaron, Georgia Tech football announced early Saturday that they will retire the number 44 for the 2021 season. The temporary retirement was announced by Yellow Jackets head football coach Geoff Collins in a statement.
“For me personally and as a program that represents the great city of Atlanta, we are very saddened by the passing of Hank Aaron,” Collins said in the statement. “After reflecting on what he meant to our city, our nation and the world, we’re proud to join the Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United in retiring the No. 44 for the upcoming season. In addition to honoring ‘Hammerin’ Hank’s’ memory, we’ll use the coming days and months as an opportunity to educate our student-athletes on the immeasurable impact that he made in our society, not only on the field, but in the civil rights movement in America.”
Aaron passed away on Friday at the age of 86.
The Atlanta Braves, where Aaron spent the majority of his baseball career, and the Atlanta Hawks, have both previously retired the number 44. The Braves retirement was in honor of Aaron, while the Hawks' retirement of the number was in honor of the late Pete Maravich, who played for the Hawks in the 1970s.
According to Georgia Tech athletic officials, junior linebacker Quez Jackson wore number 44 for the Yellow Jackets during the 2020 season. They said he would be assigned a new number for the upcoming season.