Buyer Beware: Brandon Jacobs and the Rest of the NFL's Jersey Dilemma

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Buyer Beware: Brandon Jacobs and the Rest of the NFL's Jersey Dilemma
Larry French/Getty Images

This past weekend, Brandon Jacobs, who was once the featured running back of the New York Giants now finds himself as an afterthought in the Giants offense and reportedly wants to be traded.

While many probably saw this coming, thanks to Jacobs' fiery nature and declining skills, it probably means that his time in New York is coming to a close.  What this means for the Giants offense is pretty clear, as Ahmad Bradshaw and Danny Ware will see more carries, but what does this mean for those fans who own Jacobs' jersey?

I consider myself a pretty big fan of the NFL and more specifically a fan of the New York Giants. 

And like most fans I religiously watch every game, enjoy talking about football, and occasionally buy some team apparel. 

I currently own four NFL jerseys:

  • A Barry Sanders Logo Athletic jersey (yeah, remember Logo Athletic, it actually existed once upon a time) from my youth that has more wear on it than the driver’s seat of Tony Siragusa’s Range Rover 
  • A Plaxico Burress jersey which I bought in a euphoric frenzy after the Giants won Super Bowl XLII
  • A Lawrence Taylor throwback which was a gift, and 
  • A Brandon Jacobs jersey

Take a look at the jerseys I currently own and the first thing that jumps out is of the four, really, only one of them is currently wearable.

 

What does this mean? 

Well, the Sanders jersey is simply too old, small, and worn-down to even put on. 

While Burress is currently in jail serving a two-year prison term for shooting himself in the leg and Lawrence Taylor stands accused of statutory rape and is awaiting trial.

While Plaxico’s offense (carrying an illegal handgun) isn’t a morally reprehensible act (at least in my eyes), it was simply one of the most embarrassing displays of stupidity we’ve seen in a long time.  And if you’re wearing his jersey you might as well put “Cheddar Bob” on your back and walk around.   

Furthermore, his subsequent suspension and absence from a very good Giants team in the 2009 playoffs may have cost them a shot at repeating, and to me, this jersey is a reminder of that. 

As for the LT situation, the man is absolutely innocent until proven guilty and he’s one of the best defensive players to ever play the game, but there’s something very irksome about wearing the jersey of a 51-year-old man who is accused of having sex with a 16-year-old girl, and I’ll leave it at that.

Then there’s Jacobs: He was one of the hardest hitting freaks in the NFL and a very entertaining player to watch because he leaves it all out on the field, which is why I bought his jersey about four years ago in the first place.

 

But with his declining skills, coupled with the fact that he has become increasingly upset with his diminishing role on the Giants, it would be difficult to see him playing for much longer, at least in New York. 

My situation with jerseys is a microcosm for what I’m sure many other jersey-buying NFL fans have experienced over the years. 

You shell out over $70 of your hard-earned money to buy your favorite players jersey only to have them; leave your favorite team, have their career shortened by injury, or have them commit some kind of heinous act of stupidity off the field.

Because of this, buying an NFL jersey is one of the more risky team-related investments you can make, and I’m sure anyone who owned a JaMarcus Russell jersey or a Michael Vick jersey when he played for the Falcons can tell you that even when a player seems like he will be around for awhile, there are no guarantees.

At this point, if you’re a Radiers fan wearing a JaMarcus Russell jersey, you’re essentially a walking monument to your organizations ineptitude and that’s really not a good look for any serious Raiders fan.

Some people might be comfortable wearing the jersey of players who have had their names in the news for off-the-field issues such as Michael Vick, Ben Roethlisberger, or Lawrence Taylor. 

 

But for me, I’m wearing a jersey because it’s a fun way to support my team while they’re playing, I don’t want strangers coming up to me and engaging me in moral conversations about the guy whose name is on the back of my shirt.  I just want to watch football.

Of course, if you want to avoid this jersey Russian roulette altogether, you can always get a personalized jersey of your favorite team and put your own name on the back of it. 

But we’ve all seen these guys around the stadium or at the bar, and at first you’re racking your brain to try and remember if there’s actually a Kowalski on the team that you’ve never heard of, until you realize this guy is trying to be the 54th man on a 53-man roster and it’s really not working for him.

It would seem that there are so many potential pit falls for most NFL players that the odds of that good looking defensive lineman your team just snagged at the end of the first round which had all the experts buzzing, is about as likely to play eight solid years of football on your team as he is to be out of the league for one reason or another after four. 

Like most people who don’t have an unlimited supply of money, I want to know that when I’m plopping down $80 of my own cash on a jersey that I’ll be getting my moneys worth. 

And while I realize that NFL players have one of the shortest career spans of any major professional sport, I don’t think it’s too much to ask that a newly purchased jersey remain relevant for at least a few seasons.        

 

After all, most level headed sports fans would like to believe that their front office knows what they’re doing, and if they’re going to draft a guy in the first round and give him $25 million guaranteed, we would like to think that it’s a safe investment for us to go out and buy his jersey and be able to wear it with pride for the next seven to eight seasons.

But this is where the dilemma comes in, when you combine the violent nature of the sport with the potential bust factor that almost any NFL player enters the league with and throw in the fact that some NFL players engage in questionable off the field actions, it would seem that your odds of purchasing a jersey that will be obsolete after just a few seasons is very likely. 

Whether we realize it or not, as NFL fans we spend a lot of our money supporting our favorite football team. 

Regardless of what kind of fan you are or what your financial situation is, the chances are very good that over the past year you’ve spent some of your hard earned money on; team apparel, television packages, or going to a few home games.

And while all of these goods and services may be overpriced to the average person, it is something most fans are willing to spend their money on because they love their team and they know what their money will be getting them. 

However, when it comes to buying jerseys, you simply can’t be sure of what you will be getting out of it, maybe that player will turn into the cornerstone of your franchise for the next decade or maybe he will be the next Matt Leinart.

 

While the average cost of a ticket to an NFL game now stands at $76, at least you know that you will be able to watch your favorite team play in person and that you will be able to enjoy the stadium atmosphere for the full four quarters of action. 

And while buying a jersey may be about the same price, you have no idea how that player will perform or if he will even be on your favorite team in a couple of years. 

That would be like going to a game and instead of the two teams coming out to play the second half, the organization showed a recording of Cher’s “Love Hurts” tour on the jumbotron.

There’s really no quick fix for the current NFL’s jersey dilemma, but it’s fairly obvious that not only is your next jersey purchase a potential waste of money but it may become a physical reminder of just how painful it is when your team whiffs on a high draft pick or when your teams best player decides to engage in off the field actions that would make Charles Manson cringe.

With Jacobs time in New York possibly coming to an end, this devoted NFL fan will be abstaining from purchasing another $80 jersey that may only yield two or three years of wear, hopefully, for whatever team acquires the 28-year-old running back, he will be more valuable for them than his old Giants jersey, which will be pretty much useless when he's gone.  

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