ESPN Wisconsin

So'oto 'back' to No. 97

Sep 06, 2011 -- 5:14pm

GREEN BAY – Vic So’oto will still be wearing No. 97, but the Green Bay Packers rookie outside linebacker won’t be wearing it in Thursday night’s regular-season opener against the New Orleans Saints.

So’oto, who injured his back lifting weights earlier in the week and was held out of practice Tuesday, was ruled out of the game by coach Mike McCarthy.

“I was trying to be a superhero on the squat rack, and it was just a little minor thing,” So’oto explained after practice. “They’re just making sure I’m healthy, so they kept me out of practice.”

So’oto said he’s never had back problems before and he “could’ve practiced today, just decided not to make it worse.”

Meanwhile, once So’oto does make his NFL regular-season debut, he will be wearing the No. 97 jersey he wore in preseason, not the No. 56 jersey he switched to after the final cuts were made on Saturday and he made the 53-man roster.

Why? It turns out that his wife Ashley, who also picked the Packers as his undrafted free-agent destination, had a say in his jersey number as well.

“My family, they said they already bought 97 stuff so I couldn’t wear 56,” So’oto said somewhat sheepishly.

So’oto, who wore No. 37 in college at BYU, said it was his idea to switch to No. 56 – previously worn by inside linebacker Nick Barnett – because it’s more of a linebacker number. When he told Ashley of the number change, she cringed.

“My wife (bought) just some T-shirts and stuff for the family. She was like, ‘I already bought it, how much does it cost to change back (to No. 97)?’” So’oto said. “I was like, ‘It’s free.’ And she said, ‘OK, so you’re going to be 97.’”

So’oto then went to director of football operations Reggie McKenzie and asked if it’d be OK if he went back to No. 97.

“He was like, ‘OK, it’s up to you,’” So’oto said.

So’oto laughed when it was suggested that it’s now very obvious who wears the pants in his family.

“She’s kind of the shot-caller,” So’oto said. “I’m just the foot soldier, I guess.”

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