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Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Replacing the T.O. Jersey

Or, perhaps the Eagles shouldn't sell me any more jerseys.

Last year, on the day before the NFC Championship game, I went out shopping for Eagles' jerseys for my young kids, figuring that a team this good might not come around for a long time. I went shopping in the snowstorm that preceded the big game, and I bought a Donovan McNabb jersey for my son and a Terrell Owens jersey for my daughter. I tried talking the latter out of her selection (and into a purchase of a Brian Dawkins jersey), if only because the personality of the brash Owens is in stark contrast to the personality of my daughter. Unconvinced, she said she wanted the T.O. jersey, and I obliged.

Fast forward less than a year later, and it became apparent that the T.O. jersey would not be worn again. The reason was pretty simple -- he was no longer an Eagle. And because of the opprobrium attached to the #81 in green, the jersey would not be received well in some circles if worn among Eagles fans. The divisions are too great, the hurt too much, and, well, as I've blogged before, we just must not speak his name.

That's fine, so for the holidays we decided to replace the jersey (for what it's worth, Sears has been running a sale on NFL jerseys for 30% off, at least near where I live, in a Philadelphia suburb -- I'm not so sure that the sales apply in areas of the country where the local NFL team will make the playoffs, such as in Seattle, Indianapolis, Chicago or New York. If I were the pricer of the merchandise, I wouldn't offer any discounts in those cities). In any event, we talked to our daughter generally about replacing her T.O. jersey.

Now, it's not that they sell just anyone's jersey in stores. Sure, you can spend big bucks and have one custom made, but this is a young kid who will grow out of the jersey soon enough. I touted the names that appear in the stores -- Dawkins, Kearse, Akers, Trotter, McNabb, Westbrook -- and she originally suggested tight end L.J. Smith. Not a bad choice, but I told her that it wasn't as though LJ. Smith was in demand. After thinking about it further and reading up on players a little bit, she decided on Brian Westbrook.

Good choice, we thought. He is a very good back, just signed a five-year deal, figures to stay in town for a while. A safe pick. So, on Saturday night, we went out to locate the jersey and purchased one in her size at Sears for about $31. It's really a "next year" type of present, when we all expect the Eagles to rebound from this year's dismal season, recover from the jinx that losing Super Bowl teams have suffered in recent years, get their squad healthy, make the playoffs and create hope for us again. Have the kids wear their green and white jerseys to school with pride. In any event, we made the purchase.

Which was all well and good, until Westbrook suffered a season-ending foot injury in Monday's night's debacle against the Seahawks. Ouch!

But then think about it. . .

McNabb -- sports hernia, out for the year.

Owens -- personality hernia, out for the year.

Westbrook -- Lisfranc sprain, out for the year.

We're not in the market for jerseys anymore, but if Jeffrey Lurie and Joe Banner are out there and read this blog, they can e-mail me privately and get mailing information on where to send my kids a whole compliment of jerseys represnting the numbers of the skill position players for the Cowboys and the Giants. Then again, if the Giants' or Cowboys' front office staffs read this post, perhaps they should send some bouquets my way as an inducement to stay out of the market for their jerseys. After all, you don't want Typhoid Mary SportsProf to purchase your jerseys.

At any price.

Which makes me wonder if I should really purchase any merchandise from any other hometown team this holiday season.

I also wonder why vendors are still selling T.O. jerseys at full price -- around $50 to $55 dollars at many stores. Do they actually think that they can sell them? Where do jerseys like that -- which have no market -- go to die? Do they get sold to some guy who purchases unwanted merchandise and then sells it overseas in some market where it's hip to purchase American merchandise. Will all of a sudden we discover some Japanese rappers or Chinese high school kids wearing #81 Eagles jerseys because they were available in abundant supply at a local flea market? I'm interested in knowing the answer to this question, because, quite frankly, the merchants should be offering these jerseys at a significant discount.

Which, perhaps, they would do -- if they could find any takers. I do feel badly for the merchants, who obviously laid out a lot of good money to stock T.O. jerseys, as well as I feel badly for the fans who bought them.

I just hope Brian Westbrook is healthy enough to play next year.

For a nice little girl's sake.


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