This is bad, I know. But when I heard that the New England Patriots let their leading pass receiver, Wes Welker, go to the Denver Broncos, my first thought was not about what you might call “football,” but rather about myself, and more specifically, my wallet.
Moments later, came confirmation that I was right to worry. “Mom,” one of my sons said, “you can give away my Welker jersey.”
I’d bought it at Marshalls, or maybe T.J. Maxx, but even so, those things are pricey. It was still a perfectly good shirt, no holes, no rips, not a thing wrong with it — except for the name and number on the back.
But, as I’ve learned the hard way, the value of a sports jersey is subject to the whims of people (they’re called team owners) who rule even more absolutely than Vogue editor Anna Wintour. And it turns out that there are subtle but crucial distinctions between jerseys that carry the name of a former player.
“Hostility toward a jersey has to do with the circumstances under which a player left,” explained Jonas Bromberg, a longtime Patriots’ season ticket holder from West Roxbury, and a clinical psychologist.
“Players like Welker, or Danny Woodhead” — who signed with the San Diego Chargers — “are so beloved by the fans that I can see people continuing to wear their jerseys almost in protest,” he said. “People are not mad at Welker. They are mad at the organization.”
Hear that, Bob Kraft?
At games, Bromberg said, fans who’ve been burned by departing players wear their emotions not on their sleeves, but on their backs. “People will tape over the name plate and they’ll write in something sarcastic,” like “ChokeOCinco” for Chad Ochocinco, who was released by the team after one season and 15 catches.
With Welker jerseys now filling the clearance racks, as the Globe reported, perhaps the safest jersey is one with your own name on it. And yet, as Bromberg noted, those carries risks, too.
“I’ve never heard anyone say anything to someone’s face,” he said, but a guy who used to sit in our section (the corner of the south end zone) wore one, and I remember hearing people behind me commenting on it.”
As I’ve learned the expensive way, even football has fashion cops. Anybody know where I can find an Amendola jersey — cheap?
Beth Teitell can be reached at