This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of DICK’S Sporting Goods . All opinions are 100% mine.
There’s a fine line between lame and game when it comes to rocking a replica NFL jersey on Sundays. Obviously, you want to support your team and your favorite players. But who wants to be just another fan in the same matching jersey as the other 12 fans in your row? After all, even the stadium ushers have matching shirts. Your choice of jersey can earn you a slightly bigger nod on the stadium concourse or a high-five at the tailgate party, but a truly inspired choice of jersey might even inspire the guy in line with you at the concession stand to buy you a beer. That is when your fandom has reached legendary status.
Thanks to the Jersey Report from DICK’S Sporting Goods, you can check out the biggest sellers when it comes to jerseys in the NFL. The stats are based on overall in DICK’S Sporting Goods retail stores and online each season, which, for statistical purposes, starts on draft day. As well as showing the best sellers overall, the stats can be sorted by offense, defense, rookies and by team for the past week, month or season. The list serves as popularity contest, which is why it is no surprise that this season, New England quarterback Tom Brady is the best overall seller for a player and that the Patriots are the top selling team in the NFL.
Purchasing an official jersey can be a pretty hefty investment. You don’t want to regret your purchase before the season even reaches the bye week. Just ask any fan who shelled out for a Johnny Manziel jersey. So here are some handy tips when it comes to picking out a jersey that truly expresses your fandom and won’t be relegated to the back of the closet before the last players have even cleaned out their lockers. If your jersey game is exceptionally strong, you can even wear yours year-round and avoid yellow flags of ridicule.
Sack the quarterbacks: As a general rule, quarterbacks are the most recognizable players on the team. This also means they tend to be the most popular when it comes to jerseys. Along with Brady, Philadelphia’s Carson Went, Seattle’s Russell Wilson and Carolina’s Cam Newton were all in the Top 10 sellers for the season, according to DICK’S Jersey Report. Even then, quarterbacks aren’t always a safe bet year-over-year. Just ask a New York Jets fans. If you want to stand out as a fan, don’t go with a jersey that a few thousand others around you are also sporting.
Run from the backs: The average shelf life of an NFL running back is less than three years. The nature of today’s NFL makes most running backs interchangeable so what may be one of the most productive backs in the league at Week 10 may become an afterthought by next year’s training camp. Unless you plan on buying a new jersey every year, you should probably avoid the running backs until they get a multi-year deal.
Go large, go wide: Besides the quarterback, the positions with the least turnover from season to season are on the offensive line and wide receiver. When a receiver has a rapport with his quarterback, he tends to stick around for a while. It’s why Odell Beckham of the Giants, Antonio Brown of the Steelers and A.J. Green of the Bengals are all among the Top 10 sellers and why jerseys of players like Julio Jones, Mike Evans and Dez Bryant will be relevant for several seasons to come. If you really want to earn some fan credibility, go with an o-lineman. Chances are they are going to be with your team for up to a decade and only a true fan would represent for a left tackle.
Give it a year: You will be tempted to run out and grab the jersey of the newest member of your team before he is even off the stage with the commissioner but there is no guarantee when it comes to draft picks —even first-rounders. When rookie’s bust, they tend to bust in grand fashion. Do you really want to advertise your team’s failures on your back for everyone to see? Give them a year to prove they are ready to play at the next level before you spent your hard-earned money on a rookie’s jersey.
Rep it on multiple levels: You should have multiple reasons for selecting a player’s jersey. Maybe you share a last name with the player. Maybe you went to the same alma mater or were born in the same town. For example, a fan of the Jacksonville Jaguars who graduated from the University of Central Florida can represent both of these things with a Blake Bortles jersey. Anything that gives you a personal connection to the jersey and the player it represents, will make you feel better about spending money on it.
Go retro: If you want to stick out from the crowd, you should pick a jersey that will help you stick out. Most teams offer a throwback color scheme for their jerseys that can give you a more unique way of expressing your fandom while giving a nod to the team’s past. The same pratfalls from above apply, however. Don’t be cliche. Nobody is impressed with your fandom just because you are wearing a jersey from a quarterback that played for the team 20 years ago. If you really want to impress me, rock the 80’s era creamsicle jersey from the team’s place kicker who had a second career as a cartel mule.