I own 66 NFL jerseys, many of which are just abominations of the sport -- Heath Shuler and Curtis Enis, I’m looking in your direction -- but many of which are also fantastic. So, along those lines, here are my 5 favorites, all of which are authentics (I have some good replicas too, but it’s like the theory that an NBA playoff moments are better than regular season moments by default).
Champ was probably my favorite player on the Redskins when he was with the team. How much did I love him? Well, I bought his Broncos jersey more than a year after he was traded away from the ‘Skins (and I STILL want to get a Champ Bailey Redskins jersey). This is also a really nice looking jersey, and it’s aged well -- as other teams come out with redesigns, this one doesn’t look nearly as bad as it did when it first came out.
No redesign needed here. This is a classic looking jersey (though they need to go back to the style where the shoulder stripes went all the way around the sleeves instead of stopping at the armpit). When I got this jersey, it was the choice between this and a Peyton Manning authentic. I went with the Harrison for two reasons: 1) I already had a Manning replica; 2) Harrison doesn’t get nearly the respect he deserves as a great player. The other thing I love about this jersey - it just looks so damn crisp.
I really have nothing to add here. This thing is just beautiful. I paid full price for this jersey at retail, and I’d do it again. Plus, let’s be honest, it’s one thing to have a nice looking jersey, but it’s another to have a nice looking jersey of one of the greatest players ever (and yes, I’m putting Tomlinson in that category; 31 TD in a season will do that). Last year at work, when we had “wear your jersey to work day”, this is the one I chose (which makes sense, because the next two jerseys on this list are ones I got in the last 2 weeks).
I got a replica version of this jersey on my family’s cross-country trip in the summer of ’95. I wore it so often that the numbers on the back are nearly completely faded. That’s why, when I had the chance to get the M&N authentic a couple weeks ago for less than half price, I had to jump at it. Deion was one of my favorite players ever, and this was the best looking jersey he ever played in (and yes, I like the white version of the 49ers 75th anniversary jersey better than the red version, even though they wore the reds in the Super Bowl).
About two weeks before Sean Taylor’s death, I bid on a knock-off authentic jersey on eBay, but lost the auction. I was a little disappointed, but I figured I’d have more chances at one. Then, he was tragically killed, and of course, people started asking way more for his jerseys, even the crappy knockoffs. So when I saw this one on eBay -- an actual Reebok authentic -- I jumped at it. Amazingly, it came two days later. I wore it for the first time on Monday, the day of Taylor’s funeral. Not many people I saw got the significance of the jersey, but one person did tap me on the shoulder and say, quietly, “hey, nice jersey”. That told me all I needed to know about Sean Taylor. Rest in Peace, Sean. We’ll miss you.