Predicting the NFL's Best-Selling Jerseys of 2012
In the world of fashion, who you wear can be more important than what you wear.
Fans of the NFL may be subscribing to this line of thought, as they look to purchase new jerseys to coincide with the official switch of the league's clothing supplier from Reebok to Nike.
With only days before the new duds go on sale, one question remains: Who will be among the top sellers in the new jersey landscape?
Will it be the long-standing fan favorites? New franchise faces? Nobodies with hilarious names?
Here are some predictions for the best-selling jerseys of the 2012 season.
(As a reference, here are the top-selling jerseys of 2011.)
The updated New York Giants jersey may not be all that different, but with a new Super Bowl win comes new fans who want to commemorate the moment—and celebrate quarterback Eli Manning—with a new jersey purchase.
Eli should get another boost in the next few weeks, as he prepares to host Saturday Night Live.
If he's close to as good as his brother Peyton was during his hosting appearance (the United Way skit was terrific), we should be in for a heck of a show.
Fans will be looking to go "Beast Mode" as they purchase the jersey of Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch.
Lynch is without a doubt the biggest star on the team that is making the most dramatic change in their uniform.
Seahawks fans will definitely want a piece of the action.
With big suspensions and league-wide ire resulting from a bounty program run through their defense, now is a time for fans of the New Orleans Saints to circle the wagons.
In that effort, it's not going to be a surprise to see fans pony up for the jersey of their franchise star and most visible public defender, quarterback Drew Brees.
However, this should only happen if Brees agrees to a long-term deal with the team; if he doesn't, there are a lot bigger problems in the Big Easy.
If this Associated Press story is any indication (per the Brownsville Herald), things could be a little hectic for Jets fans:
I'm not sure there's ever been a situation where a backup quarterback's jersey is not only sold, but is a better seller than the starter's jersey.
This should be the first.
One of the fiercest tacklers in the league, San Francisco 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis has emerged as the likely successor to Baltimore Ravens bruiser Ray Lewis.
As the 49ers' success increases, so will the jersey sales.
(On a personal note, when the Niners were awful back in 2008, I found a Patrick Willis away jersey on sale at a T.J. Maxx for $15. Still the best sports discount I've ever gotten.)
Likely the first overall pick of the NFL draft and future star of the Indianapolis Colts, quarterback Andrew Luck should win over fans who are hoping the team hasn't made a huge mistake in allowing franchise hero Peyton Manning to walk away in free agency.
I hear that the "cha-ching" of a register is a good sound to block out those kinds of thoughts.
A Hall of Fame talent on a new team with a new jersey (the team is bringing out the orange jerseys in 2012)?
Sales numbers for Peyton Manning's Denver Broncos jersey will likely be "Mile High."
Fans love winners, and fans love quarterbacks. Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers happens to fit both of those descriptions perfectly.
Coming into his fifth year as a starter, Packers fans should be thrilled that they're going to have one of the game's best weapons on their side for a long time.
Get your No. 84 jerseys out, everybody; Randy Moss is back in the league after joining the San Francisco 49ers.
He may not be the biggest part of the team's offense or the most important signing this offseason, but Moss is still a marquee name whose recognizability will turn into jersey sales.
Forget the credit cards, though—the only way you should pay for this jersey is with straight cash, homie.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are one of the biggest merchandise sellers every year, and with that in mind, it's no surprise that Troy Polamalu's jersey could be a big draw.
He's still playing the game at a high level and is known as one of the fiercest tacklers in the game.
Now, all the team needs to do is sell wigs to try to match his long, flowing hair style.
The Dallas Cowboys may have a huge star on their hands with running back DeMarco Murray.
Murray, who exploded the franchise's single-game rushing record earlier in 2011, has all the tools to succeed, including blistering speed and surprising strength.
The one challenge for Murray in 2012: staying healthy. He missed several games last season due to a variety of injuries.
With the Green Bay Packers looking likely to be better than ever (and Aaron Rodgers' jersey sales maxed out), wide receiver Jordy Nelson could be in a position to jump way up the jersey sale charts (similar to Miles Austin this past season).
He's become one of Rodgers' favorite targets, and there's no denying that his stats have room to grow in 2012.
He may be in the latter half of his career, but New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is still the unmatched star of the team.
With drastic free-agent moves happening throughout the roster (particularly in the wide receiver corps), he may also be the only star that fans know will still be in town two to three seasons down the road.
Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has promised improvement "through the roof" to the AP (per NBC Sports). As a result, he may see his jersey sales rise similarly.
A Pro Bowler in his rookie season, Newton has all the tools to make the Panthers into a contender.
Now, he just needs a little defensive help.
The league's reigning bruiser, Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis is still the undisputed leader of the team and its defense.
The Ravens look to build on their excellent run in 2011, where they fell just short of a Super Bowl appearance.
The only thing that may turn people away from buying his jersey is the worry that he may not have many years left on the field.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are big sellers when it comes to jerseys, and with new threads comes a chance for fans to show support for their quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger.
Big Ben may not have had the best season in 2011, but with some time to recover from injuries, he should be on track for a big comeback in 2012.
Philadelphia Eagles fans love their team, and quarterback Michael Vick is their biggest star.
While the team missed the playoffs in 2011, the Eagles should be on track to be a legitimate contender to win both a stacked NFC East division and a Super Bowl.
If that were the case, Vick would have to play a big role in that success.
If there's one Detroit Lions jersey that people will scoop up, it has to be Calvin Johnson's.
Johnson enters the 2012 year with an eight-year, $132 million deal—the largest salary ever for a non-quarterback.
Robert Griffin III
He may have long odds for finding immediate success in the nation's capital, but quarterback Robert Griffin III should be an immediate jersey seller for the Washington Redskins (should they take him with the second overall pick in the upcoming draft).
The Redskins haven't had a marketable star for several seasons in a row—who wants a Santana Moss jersey? Rex Grossman? John Beck? C'mon, people!
The only star in the desert, Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald has become the face of a franchise that seems on the verge of huge success. The jerseys should sell in kind.
The first challenge for the Cards? Figuring out their quarterback situation.
Current starter Kevin Kolb is facing major question marks after a lengthy recovery from concussion injuries sustained last season (per the Arizona Republic's Kent Somers).
The Cincinnati Bengals look to be a team on the rise after a solid season and playoff appearance. A lot of that has to do with how quickly quarterback Andy Dalton has proven himself on the pro level.
Paired with fellow rookie A.J. Green (who might also see some nice jersey sales), the Bengals should have a very efficient offense for the next few seasons.
As the Baltimore Ravens defense begins to age, fans may be looking for new players to buy jerseys for.
They may have their answer in running back Ray Rice.
Rice has quickly become one of the league's most successful backs, using his unique blend of speed and agility to pick up some huge numbers.
As the Ravens look to make another deep playoff run, know that Rice's name will be called a lot to give the team an offensive boost.
You don't talk about Houston Texans star power without talking about wide receiver Andre Johnson.
One of the most physical players in the game, Johnson also gets a jersey sales boost from a lack of a brand-name quarterback locked in at the starter position (no offense, Matt Schaub).
The new star of the team with the biggest jersey change, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Matt Flynn should be a big seller in the team shop.
Those sales will be huge, especially if he does even marginally better than his predecessor, Tarvaris Jackson.
That shouldn't be too hard.