Matthieu Pasquier – May 9, 2019 at 1:00 pm
What can or can’t be written on an NFL jersey?
Sure, the ball is a symbol, the helmet an archetype, but mostly for the American football fan, the supporter’s tool is the jersey. Ultra recent or vintage, tight or baggy, dog pajamas or exposed under glasses, the jersey allows you to celebrate your favorite player or franchise, and—under certain conditions—can be a fashion accessory.
But this is a long and complicated story, although its operations are very simple. For a few days, the island of Jersey takes you on a discovery tour.
Already Posted: Part 1: Swimwear, How Does It Work? –
It is written in it
Beginning in 1960, following the example of Major League Baseball teams, theAmerican Football League (AFL) introduces players’ names on the back of the shirt. Riders even take their first and last name. In the 1960s, when NFL jerseys were blank, we even saw some AFL players display their nicknames on their nameplates. Not new until the 1970 AFL-NFL merger National Football League Definitely displays the names on the back of the jersey. But that was the end of the miracles.
To overcome the problem of namesake players, if an initial is not enough, the rule usually stipulates the full first and last name on two lines if necessary. It happened to Rams teammates Jim and Jake Youngblood in the 70s and 80s. However, we find exceptions. In 1975, having several pairs of players with the same last name, the Chargers took the initiative to add the initial of the first name after the name more than before. The Ravens chose to display two letters of the first name to distinguish Jamaal Lewis from the team champion in 2000, receiver Jermaine Lewis and linebacker Ray Lewis. The rule was further expanded starting in March 2007 when the Patriots signed tight end Kyle Brady to avoid changing quarterback Tom Brady’s jersey. Henceforth, only the owners manage the divisions of homonymous players as per their convenience.
Currently no maximum number of letters is fixed. For players with long surnames (Chris Fumatu-Ma’Afala, DJ Houshmandzadeh, Ben Roethlisberger, Marquez Valdez-Scandling), one can use a reduced font and extend the name card to the shoulders or use two lines.
Not everything is allowed
The league authorizes the use of special characters to honor the spelling of players’ names on an exceptional basis. Guard Tom Nütten was able to play from 1995 to 2005 umlaut in the U of his surname. Drafted by the Colts in 2008, Pierre Carson (WR), of Haitian descent, was authorized to add Cedilla to his plaque. In May 2016, a German receiver drafted by the Vikings was allowed to wear his real name for the regular season: Boehringer and not Boehringer as in the preseason.
The NFL has allowed names with first-generation suffixes since 2012. The first to use the new rule was Robert Griffin (QB, Redskins) who added Roman numerals to his surname to represent his parentage.
His partner Roy Helu (RB) adds “Junior” to his plate. This practice is quickly spreading and becoming common across the league.
However, the NFL is strict about naming and not everything is allowed.
In 2006, Chad Johnson (WR, Bengals) created controversy with the league. He was fined $5,000 for putting Ocho Cinco’s name on Velcro before a match. He can avail this section only after legally changing his name.
Recently, in June 2018, the NFL ruled that offensive lineman Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (Chiefs) was unable to complete his name with his medical degree.
(Sources: NFL.com, NFL Shop.com, Reebok.com, Nike.com, Mitchell & Ness, ESPN.com, Uni-Watch, Thumper300zx, kirbyfortyfour, sportscollectorsdigest.com, 20yardline.com, profootballresearchers.org Uniform Database, (NFL Jersey Fan Paradise, SBNation.com, Ebay, Wikipedia)