Red Zone

April 10, 2014

An 'elite' NFL jersey will set you back $295 as Nike increases prices

NFL jerseys manufactured by Nike, at least the top-end ones, are about to take a hefty hike in price. The reason? Partly the fact that NFL fans have shown they’ll pay a pretty penny for their favorite swag, and partly because Nike has a corner on the market.

Red Zone

The Chiefs and NFL by beat writer Terez Paylor

This morning’s Red Zone topic, with the NFL Draft still a month away and the 2014 season but a blip on the horizon?

Jersey sales!

That’s right, we’re talking about NFL fans’ favorite game-day apparel, the replica jersey.

For starters, did you know that Nike is about to start selling a fans jersey for $295?

You heard correctly: three bills for a football shirt.

This week, Cindy Boren of the Washington Post reported how the Oregon-based sportswear giant has decided to quietly up the price of its two highest-level jersey lines. An “Elite” version, which most closely replicates what an actual NFL player wears, is going to retail for $295 — an increase from the $250 you would’ve paid last year. And the Nike “Limited” jersey is jumping from $135 to $150.

Why the increase? Well, for starters, we NFL fans have shown time and again that we’re addicted to the league’s product in all of its glorius incarnations — see the NFL Draft, which now lasts a full three days (May 8-10 this year, in case you’re wondering) and draws some epic TV ratings.

As the Post’s Boren related from an interview with ESPN’s Darren Rovell, “When you have a monopoly,” said Matt Powell, analyst for the sports marketing firm SportsOneSource, “you can charge whatever you want.”

Nike, Boren notes, is allowed to set its own prices as part of five-year deal with the NFL. That agreement is in its third year.

To be fair to Nike, not to mention its customers, not all NFL jerseys are climbing in price this year. The company’s best-selling jersey, the “Game” model, will still retail for a relatively reasonable $100.

Here’s another jersey tidbit to chew on. Three of the top six-selling jerseys on replicate those worn by the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks (No. 1 Russell Wilson, No. 5 Marshawn Lynch, No. 6 Richard Sherman). And four of the top five are quarterbacks (Wilson, No. 2 Peyton Manning of Denver, No. 3 Colin Kaepernick of San Fran and No. 4 Tom Brady of New England).

The Chiefs? Alas, none of their players’ jersey sales rank among the Top 25, according to the NFL.

Here is the full top 25, based on data collected from April 1, 2013, to Feb. 28, 2014, at

1. Russell Wilson, Seahawks

2. Peyton Manning, Broncos

3. Colin Kaepernick, 49ers

4. Tom Brady, Patriots

5. Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks

6. Richard Sherman, Seahawks

7. Drew Brees, Saints

8. Adrian Peterson, Vikings

9. Aaron Rodgers, Packers

10. Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins

11. Robert Griffin III, Washington

12. Calvin Johnson, Lions

13. Dez Bryant, Cowboys

14. LeSean McCoy, Eagles

15. Cam Newton, Panthers

16. Andrew Luck, Colts

17. Jason Witten, Cowboys

18. J.J. Watt, Texans

19. Wes Welker, Broncos

20. Clay Matthews, Packers

21. Eli Manning, Giants

22. Victor Cruz, Giants

23. Tony Romo, Cowboys

24. Troy Polamalu, Steelers

25. Eric Decker, Jets (formerly Broncos)

And just for kicks, here are the top 10 teams in terms of total sales of retail merchandise:

1. Seattle Seahawks

2. Denver Broncos

3. San Francisco 49ers

4. Dallas Cowboys

5. New England Patriots

6. Green Bay Packers

7. Chicago Bears

8. Pittsburgh Steelers

9. New Orleans Saints

10. New York Giants

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