Joel Reichenberger: Jersey purchases make for a dangerous game


Joel Reichenberger

Steamboat Pilot & Today sports reporter and photographer Joel Reichenberger can be reached at 871-4253 or

Find more columns by Joel here.

We were preparing to leave early Saturday morning for our first Rockies game of the season.

Correct that — it was my girlfriend’s birthday and she’s Philadelphia through and through. By some twist of fate, the Phillies were in town so we were going to the Phillies game, not the Rockies game.

She was lamenting the fact that none of her Phillies jerseys were appropriate for mid-June 2013. All the players she had represented had either been traded, moved on via free agency or were mired in extended slumps.

She had to settle for a regular ol’ Phillies T-shirt.

I came away from the episode with some rules, however.

(Yes, there are rules to buying a jersey from your favorite team.)

No. 1 — Don’t buy one. You’re not a player. You’re a proud individual, and it’s not Halloween. Why dress up like someone else? I’ve bought one player jersey my entire life. As a child, I begged and begged for a Mitch Richmond jersey when he first made the NBA after a great career at Kansas State. Eventually I got it, too, my parents finally caving in to my pleas. I donned it about twice, because it always seemed weird to wear. My parents understandably weren’t pleased.

No. 2 — Oh, you didn’t appreciate Rule No. 1? OK, fine. At least don’t buy a jersey of a rookie or a big-time new free agent.

Sure, if you’re an Angels fan, you’re still thrilled you bought that Mike Trout jersey. Are you as thrilled with your Albert Pujols jersey, or would you rather have your money back?

Maybe that Terrell Davis jersey worked out for you after his monster entry into the NFL. I hope you saved the receipt for your Tatum Bell version. 
And what are the odds a free agent will ever really become your team’s “guy?” Sure, it can happen. Drew Brees in New Orleans is a fine example. He’s a Saint. John Lynch, meanwhile, had a great couple of years in Denver, but he’ll always be a Tampa Bay Buccaneer.

No. 3 — In fact, just don’t buy a jersey for a current player because you never know what will happen. As soon as they get traded, your expensive threads go from cool to dated with a simple swipe of a pen. You think many Texas Rangers fans are happy they shelled out for a Josh Hamilton jersey? How many LeBron James Cleveland jerseys went up in smoke a few years ago? How many Heat jerseys will join them in a few more years?

No. 4 — Jerseys for college players are even weirder. Plus, they’re still essentially kids, so dang near anything can happen. Like all of us in college, they’re one night at a bar away from embarrassment.

Take note, Johnny Football fans.

No. 5 — The best way to buy a jersey is to buy that of a guy who’s at very least retired, or even better, dead. There’s little chance of their legacy decaying at that point, so little chance you’ll regret the purchase. For my Royals, that means George Brett, or even better, Bo Jackson. They’re Royals, through and through, and Bo Jackson lives on in American sporting lore. Perfect.

Waiting allows the dust to settle. A few years after retirement you’ll know how the player will be remembered, and if he’ll actually be remembered as a member of your team.

Todd Helton is a few months from being a fine choice for the Rockies, hilarious DUI mug shot and all.

John Elway is the obvious choice for the Broncos, though there are more creative options. Shannon Sharpe left for a final stop, but he will always be remembered as a Bronco, so he’d be a fine choice. A Karl Mecklenburg jersey says “I’m a fan” more than almost any other jersey could.

No. 6 — Did I mention, “Don’t?”


steve gadbois 3 years, 10 months ago

Rule 7: Don't buy a "Legends" jersey (or sweater in the case of hockey). How silly is it to walk around in a Boston Bruins #4 or Chicago Blackhawks #9. No one is going to mistake you for Orr or Hull!


rhys jones 3 years, 10 months ago

I disagree wholeheartedly. Vintage is COOL, obscure even better (assuming edges aren't frayed). Especially if you can wear one guy's old jersey to his new team's game, that's REALLY cool.

I want a Miller Nuggets jersey, the gold one, (hope nobody mistakes me for him) til then I'll have to settle for my Elway, rarely worn, as it does NOT enhance their luck, and people look at me like they feel sorry for me, probably for having shrunk to 5-10.


rhys jones 3 years, 10 months ago

Then there was the guy at the Cardinals (football) games -- bro' had season tickets, he sat nearby -- this guy wore the OPPONENT'S jersey to every game, stood up and did an animated "FIRST DOWN" every chance he got, which was plenty, bad as the Cards were... it might have riled some staunch fans in the area, except he was rather large, and of the darker persuasion, discouraging any negative comment; it was all in fun... he was the ANTI-fan, and how much did all these jerseys cost the guy? He was REALLY cool!!


David Moore 3 years, 10 months ago

Rule # 3 and 5 seem to fit me best when it comes to jerseys, guess I lucked out with my lineup of Colorado Avalanche jerseys, they were all stars of the team, except one, which was a star, but got homesick. Also, I guess it depends on how "vintage" you go, way back may be just a bit too far, Hull and Orr are a bit dusty, yet were true pioneers of the sport. I have several Colorado Avalanche jerseys.......a Patrick Roy third jersey, a Peter Forsberg, a Joe Sakic, an Adam Deadmarsh, a Rob Blake, which I never wear, and a Milan Hejduk, the only current player jersey I have. At well over $150 a pop, its one of my more favorite collections, I get quite a few compliments on all of them when I wear them out or to a game, especially the Roy third. Guess I am just saying vintage is not so bad, Its an honor to wear any one of them, except Blakes, can't seem to even give it away.


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