More NFL Jersey Observations

Leo HayesCorrespondent IJanuary 27, 2009

Yesterday I published an article describing what type of fan corresponds (most often) to what type of jersey. Today I decided to publish a follow-up article on how that relates to the top 10 NFL jerseys sold.

This list was created in October. As such, sales figures have changed, though I doubt the overall message will.

If anyone has more recent sales statistics please post them in the comments section below so that I may update the article if need be.

  1. Brett Favre, New York Jets
  2. Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys
  3. Eli Manning, New York Giants
  4. Marion Barber, Dallas Cowboys
  5. Tom Brady, New England Patriots
  6. Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings
  7. Peyton Manning, Indianapolis Colts
  8. Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys
  9. LaDainian Tomlinson, San Diego Chargers
  10. Terrell Owens, Dallas Cowboys

Well now, readers, we can see a pretty obvious trend here. That is that all of the top 10 jerseys sold are star offensive players.

If my article published yesterday has any accuracy this will tell us a few things about the state of NFL fans today.

That message is that most fans are either bandwagon fans, or fans of a particular athlete. This appears to be especially true in the case of the Brett Favre jersey, as his Jets jersey is very popular.

It is, however possible that a hardcore fan may be purchasing the jersey of a star to add to their current collection.

This again may be particularly true in the case of Favre as he had switched teams this past season and the Jets fans may have been interested in his jersey.

If my theory is accurate it confirms a suspicion that many true fans (that I have conversed with) have had for a while now. The NFL appears to be catering to more casual fans, and as such the merchandise that corresponds to those people would sell more.

How is the NFL providing casual fans a more directed effort at entertainment you might ask? The NFL has decided that all teams should have mascots, all teams should (as of next year) work on a rip-off Terrible Towel.

The sports media (ESPN *cough*) seems to target the teams that provide the biggest headline, regardless of their particular performance. Case in point Dallas this year.

More than 30 percent* of all NFL stories on ESPN this year (playoffs excluded, ha ha) were about Dallas.

*This statistic is 100 percent made up and 450 percent true.

Even in the playoffs, Dallas is making nearly as many headlines as the two teams still in it. Frankly, I do not care if there is a reality show that has anything to do with any NFL team, even if it were the Steelers. It is a bad idea and gives a bad image to the league.

This is not an attempt to bad-mouth the Cowboys, only to show that if you can make a headline, that is all the NFL cares about. That is why there are so many casual fans, who are, in a way, bandwagon fans.

Casual fans do not know much about the game, they only watch it for the commercials, the big-name players, or the fireworks at the end of every game. These fans will watch a team that is either good, or talked about a lot.

This is why so many of these jerseys are sold in today's NFL.

As an interesting observation, only one of the teams listed above won a playoff game, that team being the Chargers. This serves to augment my overall argument above.

With that story covered, I will now use some of the ideas given to me by the readers of the last article.

I will also add a qualification, all descriptions in this and my previous article assume the time in which the jersey was acquired, as many unknown players have become stars and other things of that nature.


Custom Jersey

This, like the greats of the past, is a category with numerous sub-categories.

Want to be Part of the Team

This is the true diehard fan in the group, they love their team with great passion, and feel it cannot be expressed by buying a jersey of an actual athlete.

The solution? This fan will put their own name on their team's jersey.


No one is Good

This is a situation when, defying all odds and statistics, there is not one of the 80 some-odd players (active and practice squads) on one's favorite team with any talent. The individual wants to show team pride, but doesn't want to look like a fool doing it. This course of action, in many cases, backfires.

That is a personal opinion, of course, I am not a fan of personalized jerseys, they cost more, and aren't real in my opinion.


Want to Look Cool

Similar to the "greats of the past" fan who wants to look cool. They put their name on a jersey because it makes them look tough, just like popping their collar. I don't often talk to these kinds of people.


Female (Pink/White) Jersey

As another B/R writer commented to me the most common of these is the Tony Romo. There is a reason for this.

These jerseys exist because there are girls who, more often than not, know nothing about football, but find an athlete (more often than not a high-profile quarterback) attractive.

They buy this jersey instead of just telling people that.

They may also buy them because they have seen their husband/boyfriend/brother etc. wearing a team's jersey and don't want to be left out of the party.


Random Jersey(s)

Normally this fan will start by buying jerseys for a team or athlete that they like. This trend will continue and they will have an utterly random assortment of jerseys.

This fan is one of two things.

They either are a fan of the sport in general, with a favorite team and cannot simply lock themselves into one team's jerseys.

Or they are the heavy-weight bandwagon champion of the world (this also includes the case of "I like their jersey fans".)

Your School (High School or College) but Not Your NFL Team

This is also a conditional jersey.

This fan will either be such a diehard fan that the are a great fan of their non-professional team's player and will watch them out of their common ties, or they will be a star athlete on another team fan.

This depends entirely upon whether the fan in question was a fan of the player when they played on their school team or became a fan because they played on the school team.

Star Offensive/Defensive Player (Appendix A)

After talking with some fans, I have decided to make an addition to the star player section of the previous article.

Some true diehard fans also purchase only the star player jersey. This situation occurs when a fan can only buy one jersey and is unsure which one to get.

They will often default to a well-known star player so that they will be able to wear it for a long time with the player on the team. They also know that they will get their money's worth on the jersey as the player will not disappoint.


Pro-Bowl Jersey

This is an extension of the star-player jersey. Though that is somewhat obvious as a player must (usually) be a very good to star caliber player to make the pro-bowl.

This jersey tends to exclude true fans more than a traditional star jersey. There are a few reasons for this observation.

Firstly, they look ridiculous. I personally will not spend money on a jersey that for no good reason looks much worse than the traditional one.

Second, it makes people think you only like the player because they made the pro-bowl. True fans do not want to be called bandwagon fans, and will try to avoid it.


Alternate Jersey

These mostly attract the casual fans I discussed above. They typically look cool and different and to someone who isn't that into football.

Other fans may also purchase these jerseys, all of the other classifications still apply to the alternate jersey, it simply attracts more casual fans, and a much smaller percentage of hard-core fans will wear these jerseys.

This is also usually not the first jersey purchased by a hard-core fan as they will normally have purchased a traditional jersey before considering an alternate.


I welcome any more suggestions, it will make for a more complete article.


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