I saw a photo of Kansas City Chiefs’ Tight End Travis Kelce holding up his brother Josh Kelce’s Philadelphia Eagles jersey after their game and it made me wonder, when did swapping jerseys become a thing in the NFL? I understand that swapping jerseys is a sign of respect usually happening between guys that went to college together or guys that look up to one another. And after an extensive Google search that really gave me no answers to my original question, I did finally realize that swapping jerseys in the NFL is really just a glorified popularity contest.
Think about it, guys have to ask other NFL guys if they want to swap jerseys and really the only guys ever being asked are guys like Adrian Peterson or Von Miller. Miller, as I’ve come to understand has so many jerseys from guys in the NFL that he has to rotate them out like artwork in a gallery as per this LA Times article. So the better the guy is the more offers he’s going to have to swap jerseys, so it’s important for guys to get in their request as early as possible to ensure that they will actually get the coveted jerseys.
Another reason to support my popularity contest angle is that NFL jerseys are expensive because they are tailored to fit the players just right. So if someone like Adrian Peterson wants to swap jerseys, some teams actually tell their players to order extras at the beginning of the season so that they have enough jerseys to last the season. The equipment guys also get a little frustrated, understandably so, with the guys who swap jerseys without letting them know because of the fact that most guys usually only have one extra jersey as a just-in-case situation.
Because the jerseys are so expensive, running upwards of 300 bucks a jersey, most guys probably don’t want to shell out that much money just to swap jerseys. The third and fourth string guys surely aren’t going to want to part with money just for jerseys that nobody is going ask for.
So while I’m still not 100% sure when jersey swapping became a thing that happens after every NFL game, I am 100% positive that swapping jerseys is just a glorified popularity contest that actually costs players money to do. But if you think about it, getting Todd Gurley’s or Kareem Hunt jersey jersey in his rookie season might actually be worth the cost of giving him your jersey later on.