No, I’m not talking about a New Jersey guy. I mean the sort of guy whose jersey you want to rush out and buy. These are the jerseys you proudly display at school, at sporting events, going out, or watching the game with your friends. Here’s my top five; it’s a subjective list, but I think many fans will agree with these entries.
1. Tom Brady
It’s no secret that Brady jerseys are among the most popular in the National Football League, and it’s for a good reason that I feel deserves a bit of an explanation. Fans like a proven commodity, something reliable that they know they can depend on. A jersey is, for most, a pretty large investment for a piece of attire, so the average consumer wants to be sure he or she can wear a jersey with pride for many years. Nothing typifies this notion better than Brady’s jersey. He’s been around for a long time, he’s a perennial elite quarterback, he’s been the face of the franchise since 2001, and he’s going to be around for a long time. This is the safest bet if you want to purchase a jersey.
2. Wes Welker
This example is actually the flip side of my above argument. Don’t get me wrong: Wes Welker is a beloved member of the New England Patriots by the organization and fans alike. However, fans must accept the fact that his departure coming sooner rather than later is a very real possibility. Despite the fact that he may be gone next year, I’d still recommend purchasing his jersey if you’re looking for new Patriots gear. Welker’s been an extremely prolific receiver and he’s had his best years in New England. Redskins fans still wear Clinton Portis jerseys, and if you wear a Welker jersey, you’ll get a lot of respect from fellow Bostonians. You might even strike up a conversation about how great Welker was to the team (if, in fact, he does leave in the near future).
3. Rob Gronkowski
You’ve got to love Gronk. Not only is he a fun loving, hard partying animal, he’s a terror on the field and he’s the best tight end in the league in every facet of the game. When you say his name, everyone knows you’re not talking about Chris or Dan. They know you mean Rob. Seeing Rob getting involved in the community (shaving his head for cancer research, working at Dunkin’ Donuts for a day) is all the more reason to nab one of these jerseys.
4. Vince Wilfork
Gone are the days when a Patriots fan could proudly don any jersey of the defense. With the departure of Tedy Bruschi, Willie McGinest, Richard Seymour, Ty Law and Rodney Harrison, the defense lacks many big names. There is no name bigger now, however, than Wilfork. Big Vince isn’t just the largest member of the team, he’s also the de facto leader of the defense. It’s great to talk to New England fans who recognize that his contribution to the team isn’t getting a ton of sacks; rather, it’s tying up offensive linemen, leaving the linebackers free to operate. Wilfork is another one who might be on his way out, so shop with caution.
5. Chandler Jones/Dont’a Hightower
Do not purchase these jerseys this year. I highly advise against ever purchasing the jersey of a rookie, partially because they’re unproven. Jones might be a bust (although I have high expectations from him). Hightower, though less likely to bust, might be more of a solid contributor than a big time playmaker, and that’s not the jersey you want. There’s another reason you don’t purchase rookie jerseys though: what if his number changes? Aaron Hernandez changed from 85 to 81 last season because of Chad Ochocinco’s arrival. I feel Hightower’s number is likely to change as not many linebackers don a jersey number in the 40′s. After the 53-man roster deadline, Hightower might have his jersey number changed (before the Week 1 matchup against the Tennessee Titans, of course). Hold off on purchasing either of these jerseys until next year. However, definitely keep an eye out on both of these players. If Jones records double digit sacks, his jersey could become a hot seller.
These are just a few of the jerseys a prospective buyer ought to inquire about. I’d also recommend Hernandez, Jerod Mayo and Brandon Spikes. If the jerseys are too pricey, you can also consider a grey Bill Belichick hoodie. Just make sure to cut off the sleeves.
You can follow Christopher Field on Twitter @ChrisDField.