FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – He is known as ‘The Third’ and it has nothing to do with anything on the football field and everything to do with an upbringing that he wants to honor. It is a tradition he hopes to uphold. It is more than just a name on the back of the jersey. 

There is a subtle change to the back of the New York Jets No. 25 jersey this year, something that perhaps went unnoticed by most fans. Gone is the rookie year ‘Pryor’ on the name plate on the back, making way now for ‘Pryor III.” Calvin Pryor III, the Jets first round pick last year and the starting strong safety has made the change to the last name on the back of his jersey to pay tribute to his grandfather and father. He says that it doesn’t change the way he plays but in each of his seven tackles made this past Sunday for the now 4-1 Jets, there is a young man playing for the two men who came before him.

In college at Louisville, he wore ‘Pryor III’ on his jersey, or as he simply shortens it to ‘The Third.’ Last year, everything happened so fast with Pryor being drafted and then getting into the swing of things  in the NFL that he didn’t have the chance to get his full name on the back of the jersey; it just wasn’t something he was able to think about and when he got his jersey it was too late to make a change. But this offseason with time to “chill,” Pryor III asked Director of Equipment Gus Granneman about his desire to go back to representing his family and making it read the way it did in college.

Of course the organization had no problems with his decision but it wasn’t as easy as all that.

Pryor III had to provide the team with a copy of his birth certificate and it was then forwarded to the NFL’s offices along with the necessary paperwork. Once the league examined everything, they then notified the Jets that they had a greenlight to put ‘Pryor III’ on the back of his jersey. The first time he wore the new look on his back was in the Jets first game of preseason (their practice jerseys only have numbers, no names).

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After year of just being ‘Pryor’ now he was putting on his back three generations.

“They noticed. My dad was the one actually asking me if I was going to put ‘The Third’ on the back like I did in college,” Pryor III told Metro.

“At the end of the day, it’s nice to have those jerseys lined up, from college to the NFL. They represent you, it feels good. You want to play for your name, for your family. That’s an important thing in life.

“Hopefully one day when I have a child, I hope to keep the trend going.”

Pryor III has a daughter right now but he admits that if he has a son, it might well continue on the tradition and become Calvin Pryor IV. He won’t pressure his possible progeny to follow in his footsteps, even if a possible Pryor IV sounds like another hard-hitter at safety and s sure-fire first round pick. The Jets safety said simply “Whatever he wants to be, a doctor, a lawyer, whatever makes him happy. That’s what I want, for him to be happy and taken care of.”

And in turn, the second-year safety has settled in quite nicely with the Jets this year. He’s overcome some of the growing pains of being a rookie and now looks every bit the part of the first round pick from a season ago.

While at Louisville, Pryor III wore the full name in college – “it was important for me to wear my dad’s name and my grandad’s name. I like being a part of that tradition.” It is a tradition he now carries into every tackle, every play he makes in the NFL.

“I just want to go out there and play the game, that’s what is fun,” Pryor III said. “That I get to do it with their names on my back just adds something to it.”

Through five games this year, he is third on the Jets this year with 30 tackles. Last year in 16 appearances Pryor III had 60 tackles in his rookie season.

Clearly, ‘The Third’ is growing up nicely.