Team replica jerseys are painful to both your psyche and your wallet because players can be released and re-sign with another team at a moment’s notice, leaving you with the jersey of a player who isn’t even on your team anymore. In the event the player was Terrell Owens, chances are that you don’t feel too good about wearing that jersey, even in the privacy of your own home.
It’s not just those “I really really hope this guy is amazing” players who end up getting hurt and never fully realizing their potential and end up being released, then re-signed, then released again, then re-signed again… like Colt McCoy. (But those are tears for another column.) Players who will be going into the Hall of Fame under your team’s colors — like Peyton Manning as a Colt, Julius Peppers as a Panther, and Adam Vinatieri as a Patriot — are all on different teams. You can wear their jerseys to show your pride for the past, but it can be annoying shelling out $100 for a jersey only to have a player for another team on the back of it. Especially when that player’s new team is playing their old team (i.e. Manning jerseys during Colts – Broncos games.)
Luckily, there are some cheaper alternatives. They may not be the greatest former players from your team, but they were at least respectable. And not Terrell Owens.
When you play football, injuries will happen. You can’t fault the player for it, and you can’t fault a football organization for giving up on the player when he spends more time in a leg brace than on the sideline. So goes the story of Beanie Wells, a running back drafted by the Arizona Cardinals the year after they lost Super Bowl XLII. Unfortunately, Wells just couldn’t stay healthy enough to help the Cardinals make another run at the big game. This is a running back who was helped off the field with an ankle injury the same day that he signed a multi-year contract.
Wearing a Beanie Wells jersey is a cheap way to show that your fandom will endure through any pain and suffering that comes your way.
The human body can only take so much football before it is considered “old.” It’s like that in any sport, really. Roger Federer is considered an old man in tennis at the over-ripe age of 32. With football, each position is different, but the position that ages the most quickly is running back. One year you’re breaking franchise records, the next you’re being cut because you lost a step. This is what happened to Michael Turner, running back of the Atlanta Falcons.
Okay, so that franchise record was two running touchdowns in one game, something that Adrian Peterson could do while having a kidney transplant. Michael Turner was one of those workhorse players who you love to have on your team, even when he does badly. Then Turner hit 32, the Falcons hit a salary bonus point, and the two said their goodbyes. The Falcons picked up another aging running back in Steven Jackson. It was a semi-respectable separation, so you would be respectable wearing Michael Turner’s jersey.
Unfortunately, the only fans who can pick up a Panthers jersey on the cheap are preschoolers, toddlers, and infants.
While the Panthers did let go of Steve Smith, who promptly signed with the Baltimore Ravens and would make him a prime target for cheap jerseys, most stores are sold out of them. This is probably due to Smith being the premier wide receiver for the Panthers for over half of the team’s existence. The Panthers came into the NFL in 1995. Steve Smith came to the Panthers in 2001. Do the math.
When it comes to players, the Chicago Bears don’t seem to have major turnover. Sure, they may grab up as much talent as they can, like Brandon Marshall, Julius Peppers and Jay Cutler, but they rarely let anyone leave unless they are going into retirement.
Devin Hester is one of those rarities, just like he was such a rare talent as a kickoff and punt returner. He may very well go into the Hall of Fame because of how other teams would rather take an illegal kick penalty than kick the ball to him, which is why his “cheap” jersey is so expensive.
The Dallas Cowboys, with arguably the worst defense in the NFL, released their best defensive player in DeMarcus Ware. So it stands to reason that Ware jerseys would fit right into the “cheap but respectable category.”
However, these are the Dallas Cowboys, where out-of-state fans sell their children for tickets to see their team live. Even their cheap jerseys are on the expensive side.
If you’re a Detroit Lions fan, chances are that you already have your Barry Sanders or Calvin Johnson jersey ready and waiting in your closet for game day. But for those of you looking to just wear the blue and silver, maybe a Louis Delmas jersey is more your style.
It’s true that the Lions secondary hasn’t been very good for as long as I’ve watched football on Thanksgiving, but with a Delmas jersey, at least you can show that it couldn’t get any worse than it recently was.
Green Bay Packers
At the moment, the story of Jermichael Finley is a sad one, both for Packers fans and the player himself. After sustaining a spinal cord injury in Week 7 of 2013, it was unknown if Finley would ever take the field again. That unknown has continued into this season. All we know is that one of Finley’s kids doesn’t want him to play again, which would be enough for me to hang it up.
If Finley does come back, and comes back to the Green Bay Packers, then his jersey could be a steal this off-season.
If you want to throw some money around for an ex-Vikings player, Jared Allen is the way to go. He was on the team for years and was usually the only defensive player anyone bothered to remember.
But if you want to get cheaper and semi-respectable, you only have to look as far as a Visanthe Shiancoe jersey. Who knows, Shiancoe may even give you a free jersey if you pronounce his name right on the air.
New Orleans Saints
While the Reggie Bush jerseys may be long gone, you never have to look too far to find another former running back of the New Orleans Saints leaving to find another team. The Saints do two things well: 1) Throw the ball to Jimmy Graham. 2) Put on a parade down Bourbon Street.
The latest running back to jump ship is Mark Ingram. Surprisingly, his jersey is on the high side even though he was not part of the Saints’ Super Bowl win.
New York Giants
Giants fan have a lot to be proud of these past seven years. Their team won two Super Bowls. In terms of jersey sales, this is usually tough on the wallet. Luckily, the Giants did not win a Super Bowl in the past two years, so jersey prices for players have taken a slight dip.
One of those players is Ahmad Bradshaw, a running back that Giants fans probably wish would come back home.
There are a lot of Eagles jerseys out there, many of respectable players who any team would love to have. Players like Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Unfortunately, those players used Philadelphia to boost their next contract rather than boost the team.
So that leaves us with Kevin Kolb. He wasn’t a bad quarterback. The guy horse-collared a defensive back after being intercepted by him, so you know he has heart. Kolb was just overshadowed by quarterbacks who were a little bit better than him, namely Donovan McNabb and Michael Vick. Maybe things would have been different if the Eagles had foreseen that Vick would be injured every single year.
San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers defense may not be what it was last year. NaVorro Bowman is still nursing the leg that was broken in half during the 2013 NFC Championship game. Aldon Smith may be facing a league suspension for a few games. Donte Whitner is hitting rival players for the Cleveland Browns.
Carlos Rogers is gone as well, but may have been forgettable enough not to cause mental anguish any time a Niners fan sees his name.
The only thing that is remotely bad about your team winning the Super Bowl is that all jerseys stay at full price, even players that left, retired or fought with management. That’s because each and every player is a Super Bowl champion. Third-string guard jersey, whatever his name is? Full price. Punter? Full price. The jersey that was made for the Seahawks social media intern as a joke? Full price. It’s a problem that any self-respecting football fan would love to have.
So if everything is full price, you can take your pick. I recommend the “Fan 12” jersey, which is the tenth highest selling jersey for this quarter in the NFL.
St. Louis Rams
Ever since Marshall Faulk hung up his cleats, the St. Louis Rams have been trying to replace him. First came Steven Jackson, who is now with the Atlanta Falcons. Then came Daryl Richardson, who is now with the New York Jets. Last year, Zac Stacy busted onto the scene. You’d think the Rams would be sticking with Stacy for the long-haul, but then they go and draft Tre Mason to make us suspicious.
Daryl Richardson probably evokes the least amount of heartache for fans.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs have a lot of jerseys on sale, most of them with “Freeman” on the back. But that’s not a player who evokes good memories about the franchise, although it may invoke memories of better uniforms. Seriously, the computer digits have to go next year. They’re almost as bad as the orange cream jerseys.
Luckily, there is a former player jersey available that sports the older colors of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and isn’t painful to wear: safety Mark Barron. And he’s still on the team! That’s one reason to be happy about uniform changes no matter how ugly the new jerseys are: the old school jerseys automatically get cheaper.
Last year, I went to a Redskins game. I wanted to get a Rex Grossman jersey because, hey, it’s Sexy Rexy. At the very least it would be good for a laugh. Unfortunately, the third-string quarterback’s jersey was full price, so I ended up getting a Rocky McIntosh jersey. Whatever, I like defense.
McIntosh jerseys aren’t available anymore, but there was another jersey that was available last year that you can still get this year: Ryan Torain. It beats a Donovan McNabb jersey.
Patrick Emmel is a sports humorist who once punted a soccer ball fifty yards to his teammate, who then scored the only goal for his college intramural soccer team’s season. Seriously, that kick was placed PERFECTLY. He is also still a believer that Colt McCoy is going to break out as an NFL quarterback. You can read more of his obnoxious commentary at This Jeer In Sports and heckle him on Twitter @Patrick_AE.