Until recently, I used to love collecting professional sports jerseys.
Growing up as a Philadelphia sports fan, I had a Charles Barkley old school Sixers jersey and the Randall Cunningham Kelly green Eagles jersey. Even my first brush with being a Nuggets fan came with me as a kid designing my own 1980s rainbow styled jersey using a white tank top and entire box of Crayola markers (still my favorite uniforms to this day).
But collecting jerseys of your favorite players on your favorite teams just isn’t as fun as it used to be because your favorite players don’t seem to stay on your favorite teams as long as they used to.
Case in point: as a Christmas present in 2004, my parents got me a Terrell Owens Eagles jersey to wear for the Birds’ impending Super Bowl run (that, as we all know now, ended disastrously). Since T.O. was hurt for the first two playoff games, I didn’t wear the jersey until the Super Bowl, but it was going to be my go-to article of clothing for many seasons to come. Fast forward a few months to the fall out between Owens and the team (that, as we all know now, ended even more disastrously) and I NEVER wore the jersey again.
That’s right, I wore that stupid T.O. Eagles jersey a grand total of one time.
Another case in point: after Denver Broncos wide receiver Brandon Marshall single-handedly led my fantasy football team to a championship a few years ago, he became my new favorite player in the NFL. When I decided to move to Denver a year and a half ago, my then-Girlfriend (now Wife) bought me a Marshall jersey as a “Welcome to Denver” gift. But since I didn’t arrive to the Mile High City until after the 2008 season was over, I only got to wear my Marshall jersey around town this past year while the mercurial receiver and head coach Josh McDaniels were at odds (and then, once again, we all know how that ended).
In this modern era of sports where players change teams so frequently, a fan's jersey can become outdated faster than technology.
And it’s not even the players changing teams that are killing fans in regards to team apparel anymore.
It’s the players changing numbers.
I feel sick every time I go to the Pepsi Center and see the thousands of poor, innocent fans that are stuck walking around with a Kenyon Martin #6 jersey or a Chauncey Billups #7 or a J.R. Smith #1. That’s three players on one team that have changed their uniform number over the past couple of years (Chauncey and J.R. made their switches just this season).
I feel even worse for Cleveland Cavalier fans monitoring the LeBron James situation. He is either going to leave for a new team or even if he stays, he’s decided to switch from wearing #23 to #6. So you’re basically screwed either way if you currently own a Cavs #23 jersey.
Thanks, King James.
This current trend of players switching teams and switching numbers so often has cooled me a bit on throwing down hard earned cash to wear their current incarnation for a limited time. But I still love wearing my team’s colors, so I have been looking for some solutions to this increasing problem.
1. Wear a throwback jersey. There was a time where I would have resisted this because, while I respect the past, I like to live in the present as a fan. But when the present starts changing faster than the prices at your corner gas station, honoring the past quickly becomes an attractive option. My buddy Kevin was the first of our group to do it. He is a fellow Eagles fan and a couple of years ago, he bought a Jerome Brown (R.I.P.) Kelly green Eagles jersey and I remember thinking to myself, “Hmm… that will never become obsolete.” I followed suit last season when my father in-law graciously gave me an adult sized Randall Cunningham throwback. I wore it during every Eagles game this past year and he is still my favorite Eagle.
2. Order a personalized jersey. While I love the Cunningham jersey, I still want to sport the Eagles new colors from time to time and I’ve been leaning heavily towards ordering a custom-made “Mahler” Eagles jersey. I would still have the throwback but I could represent the present with one guy I know will never get traded or leave.
3. Redeem an old jersey. Denver fans are in a very unique situation right now. There are literally thousands of local Broncos fans that got left stranded with an outdated #15 jersey after Marshall got traded (like me). But when the newly drafted Tim Tebow announced that he is going to wear the vacated number as a pro, that provided a very intriguing option to redeem those Marshall jerseys by just changing the name on the back. Now I have no idea what Tebow is going to do as a pro but I just don't want to throw away another obsolete jersey. I’ve done some searching online and of course the NFL doesn’t sell replacement nameplates (and they apparently take legal action on any one that does), but there has to be a way. Even if I have to write Tebow’s name over Marshall’s name with a sharpie, I’m not going to drop another 80 bucks on a jersey with a number that I already own.
Any other suggestions to this issue would be greatly appreciated.