What's the Cost of Buying an NFL Jersey Number?

Zach KruseSenior Analyst IJune 20, 2013

What's the Cost of Buying an NFL Jersey Number?

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    Most NFL players hold a special affinity for a certain jersey number, and there have been a select few willing to dole out ridiculous sums of money to ensure their number of choice is secured.

    The latest number-buying story comes from new Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Darrelle Revis, who, according to Paul Lukas of ESPN's Uniwatch, paid Mark Barron $50,000 for the right to wear the No. 24 jersey. 

    Revis wore No. 24 during each of his first six seasons with the New York Jets. Barron will now wear No. 23. 

    The money here is worth putting into context.

    While $50,000 is a considerable chunk of change for most of us, Revis won't be hurting for money any time soon. 

    The game's highest-paid cornerback is scheduled to make $14.5 million over the entire 2013 season, and he'll earn roughly $765,000 per week in base salary. ESPN's Darren Rovell also reports that Revis will be able to claim the $50,000 as a "business expense" tax write-off. 

    If Revis really does consider the No. 24 a part of his identity, he re-obtained it without a huge financial committment. 

    However, Revis isn't the only player in recent history to spend some cash to get a jersey number. In fact, it happens much more often than most realize. 

    In the following slides, we'll present the NFL players who have received their number of choice through cash payment. 

Near Misses

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    Not all cash offerings result in a jersey change. In other cases, the number is given away for free. Here are some examples of near misses:

    Jimmy Smith and Lardarius Webb

    According to the Baltimore Sun, Smith was willing to pay Webb $50,000 to give him the No. 21 jersey before the 2011 season. The then rookie cornerback scaled back the offer to $10,000, but Webb kept his number and Smith was forced to wear No. 22. 

    Chad Johnson and Aaron Hernandez

    When Ochocinco arrived in New England in 2011, Hernandez was still the owner of the No. 85 jersey. Instead of forcing Johnson to pay up to get the number, Hernandez gave it away for free, per Mike Rodak of ESPN Boston.

    Johnson later jokingly said he was willing to offer Hernandez his Toyota Prius on the weekends and some McDonald's coupons if he insisted on payment. 

Jeff Feagles and Eli Manning, Plaxico Burress

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    There was a stretch when former New York Giants punter Jeff Feagles couldn't catch a number break. 

    In 2004, quarterback Eli Manning arrived in New York as the No. 1-overall pick and wanted the No. 10—Feagles' number previously. According to Matt Dollinger of Sports Illustrated, Manning got his desired number, but only after he sent Feagles and his family on an all-expenses paid vacation to sunny Florida. 

    With a fresh new tan, Feagles switched from No. 10 to 17. 

    His number peace was short-lived. 

    A year later, the Giants acquired receiver Plaxico Burress, who wanted to wear the No. 17. 

    This time around, according to Dollinger, Feagles didn't want a vacation to switch numbers. He instead required a new outdoor kitchen. According to Feagles, Burress could have the No. 17 if he paid for the renovation.

    Burress got his number, just as Manning did a year earlier, but Feagles said he didn't receive a dime from Burress in compensation.

    Betrayed, Feagles went with the No. 18 for the rest of the season. He eventually switched back to No. 17 after Burress left New York.

Chris Kluwe and Donovan McNabb

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    When Donovan McNabb arrived in Minnesota before the 2011 season, his No. 5 was being occupied by veteran punter Chris Kluwe. 

    Instead of wearing a different number for the first time in his NFL career, McNabb engaged Kluwe in negotiations for the No. 5. Kluwe responded with some interesting requests. 

    According to Marc Sessler of NFL.com, McNabb had to donate $5,000 to Kluwe's charity, Kick for a Cure, mention Kluwe's amateur band in a news conference and buy the punter an ice cream cone to get the No. 5. 

    McNabb agreed on the terms and was given the No. 5. He eventually made good on the donation, and also name-dropped the band on a few occasions. 

    The fulfillment of the ice cream portion of the payment is currently unknown. 

Clinton Portis and Ifeanyi Ohalete

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    Money-for-number swaps can sometimes turn ugly. 

    According to Lee Jenkins of the New York Times, former Washington Redskins running back Clinton Portis agreed to pay defensive back Ifeanyi Ohalete $40,000 for the No. 26. Ohalete agreed, and Portis donned his favorite number during his stint in Washington.

    However, the deal turned sour once Ohalete was released from the Redskins the next August. According to Ohalete, Portis stopped payment of the deal at $20,000.

    Ohalete eventually sued, and Portis was forced to pay $18,000 of the remaining $20,000 balance, per Len Pasquarelli of ESPN.  

Lee Evans and Mark Campbell

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    When the Buffalo Bills drafted Lee Evans in the first round of the 2004 draft, he was willing to pay the price to get his No. 83. 

    The rookie eventually dealt out $20,000 to Mark Coffman for the digits, per Jenkins. 

    An eight-year NFL veteran, Evans wore the No. 83 in each of his professional seasons. 

Kellen Winslow and Aaron Shea

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    Kellen Winslow, Jr. (the son of Hall of Fame tight end Kellen Winslow, Sr.) wanted to wear his father's number when he entered the NFL in 2004. 

    There was one problem: Cleveland Browns teammate Aaron Shea was already donning the No. 80.

    Instead of wearing the No. 11, which Winslow was forced into that summer, he paid Shea to take over the number he wanted, per CBS Sports.

    According to Jenkins, Winslow ended up paying Shea with over $30,000 worth of suits, meals and vacations.

    Shea got a nice haul, while Winslow would end up wearing the No. 80 in each of his four seasons in Cleveland. 

Deion Sanders and Alundis Brice

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    As you'd expect, the best number-swapping story likely comes from former NFL cornerback Deion Sanders. 

    According to Jeff Pearlman's book, Boys Will Be Boys: The Glory Days and Party Nights of the Dallas Cowboys Dynasty, Sanders surprised Alundis Brice with a new BMW as an offering for the No. 21

    An excerpt of the exchange:

    The next morning, Brice reported to Valley Ranch and was dismayed to spot his dream car -- a brand new metallic blue 325i with all the trimmings -- parked in the players' lot. "I can't believe this," he thought. "Somebody bought my car."

    When he approached his locker, Brice noticed the keys on his stool alongside a note from Sanders. It read: NOW GIVE ME MY DAMN JERSEY!

    Brice happily gave up the number. Sanders, while donning his usual No. 21, would go on to help Dallas win a Super Bowl in his first season with the Cowboys.

Matt Hasselbeck and Chandler Harnish

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    Credit Indianapolis Colts quarterbacks Matt Hasselbeck and Chandler Harnish for settling a number dispute in an unconventional way.

    According to Chris Littmann of Sporting News, Hasselbeck was willing to take the No. 11 and let Harnish keep No. 8, Hasselbeck's typical number. 

    However, if Harnish hit a half-court shot, Hasselbeck would pay $8,000 and he'd get back the No. 8. And of course, Harnish nailed the attempt. 

    The money eventually went to a charity. Hasselbeck will wear No. 8, while Harnish gets No. 5.