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LAST UPDATED ON JUL. 9, 2021 AT 12:22 PM | 13 MINUTE READ
As an average NFL fan, it’s important to be able to tell an authentic NFL jersey from a fake.
If you’re dealing with a verified site such as NFLShop.com, it’s not an issue.
But if you’re on a limited budget, chances are you’ll look elsewhere in order to save a few bucks.
Table of Contents
- First impressions
- What is an authentic NFL jersey?
- What if it feels like a real NFL jersey?
- The first things to look for in an authentic NFL jersey
- Collar tag
- Jock tag
- NFL shield
- Collar tag
- Jock tag
- Mitchell and Ness
With this in mind, let’s be clear – trying to save money on NFL jerseys doesn’t necessarily mean you’re cheap. Or that you’re intentionally looking for a fake (thereby supporting illegal counterfeiters).
In this case, it could be that:
- After spending thousands on tickets, tailgating, & tv subscriptions, you want to clamp down.
- You already own a $150 jersey, and don’t feel the need to spend that much on a second one.
- You’re jersey shopping for your kid(s). Why spend a hundred bucks on something that he or she will outgrow by next year?
So what’s the problem? Even on “trusted” sites like Ebay and Amazon, there are over a million counterfeit jerseys in circulation.
Ideally, you should examine any potential purchase up close, but you won’t always get the chance. In the event that you’re viewing from a distance, or checking out photos of an online listing, a brief eyeball test will have to suffice.
Here are 2 ways to spot knock off NFL jerseys in seconds:
- Manufacturing country – If you’re close enough to see the collar tag and it says, “Made in China”, don’t look any further. Neither Nike nor Reebok has ever manufactured jerseys in China.
- Chest numbers – If the numbers are stitched on, they should be flat, even, with a smooth, “settled-in” look (figure A), and not resemble wrinkled bed sheets (B). They should also be matte, and not glossy. Additionally, the numbers should be large enough to cover most of the front of the jersey, like figure C, and not figure D.
Not sure if it’s the real McCoy? Then show us your jerseys!
To be sure, these are but 2 keys when it comes to authenticating football jerseys on the fly. It gets more involved when you take into consideration the different Nike NFL jersey types and the various legacy brands.
What is an authentic NFL jersey?
In plain context, an authentic NFL jersey is what the pro football players wear on the field. The Nike Elite is about as close to that as you can get, and it’s what every fan wants.
(Note: in the context of this article, authentic refers to any NFL jersey that is produced by a company that is officially licensed by the NFL. So in addition to current manufactures Nike and Mitchell & Ness, this includes legacy companies like Russell, Reebok, & Wilson.)
So then, what’s the problem? Nada, if you have $325 to blow at NFL Shop. Given that 300 bucks is steep for the average NFL fan, it’s no wonder that many of us consider not only the cheaper versions, but the fake ones as well.
To clarify – while the prospect of saving hundreds of dollars by purchasing counterfeit replica jerseys is enticing, it could cost you more in the long run.
Worst case scenarios:
- You buy from an illegitimate website and never receive your order. Make sure the site is legit.
- You get a nice looking jersey, but it disintegrates after a few washings. Treating it as an anomaly, you order another one, and so on, until you’ve spent the cost of an NFL Nike Limited jersey before the end of football season.
What if it feels like a real NFL jersey?
For instance, let’s say you bought a jersey on Ebay (‘Jersey A’) at a really good price, and you’re comparing it to an authentic NFL jersey you already own (‘Jersey B’).
In this case, Jersey A has stitched-on numbers, while Jersey B doesn’t. In addition, Jersey A also feels heavier and sturdier.
But before you go thinking that your purchase was in fact not too good to be true, realize that counterfeiters usually try to replicate a certain model or level of jersey. In the above scenario, Jersey A is a knock-off of a Nike NFL Elite Jersey, while Jersey B is a genuine Nike Game Jersey.
As a result, Jersey A may seem more impressive than Jersey B, but it’s still a fake.
The first things to look for in an authentic NFL jersey
If you do get the opportunity to check out an NFL jersey up close, here’s what you should initially focus on:
- Stitching – Examine the stitching on all parts of the garment. If you see a single loose or frayed thread, it could be nothing. Multiple instances, however, means there’s a good chance it’s fake. Real NFL jerseys are impeccably stitched.
- Hemline tag – Aka jock tag. Although tags vary according to brand, model, & year, they should all appear clear & legible, with non-contrasting stitching. (More on jock tags to follow).
- NFL shield – The NFL shield logo at the base of the neckline should be properly aligned and bear a distinct shape and font. More on that below.
- Fabric quality – Pick up the jersey. Does it give the impression of being heavy & durable enough to be authentic, or does it feel flimsy? Additionally, you can hold it up against some light. If the mesh holes are large enough to give it a see-through appearance, you’ve got a problem.
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To repeat, if it says, “Made in China”, it’s as fake as a $50 Louis Vuitton handbag. Nike manufactures their jerseys in Guatemala and Honduras.
The garment tag should resemble the image on the right, with a hologram that has a shiny silver bottom half.
Since a genuine hologram is neither easy nor cheap to produce, counterfeit jersey makers will often omit it.
Start by examining the collar tag.Specifically, all genuine Nike jerseys have neckline labels that are sewn on all sides, so they do not flip up. Knockoff jersey makers have gotten better with their tags in recent years. Here’s a side-by-side comparison of real & fake neckline tags:
What’s wrong with the one on the right?
- First, note the shape of the football, stars, & lettering on the NFL shield logo.
- Then, there’s the erratic stitching, particularly on the left side of the tag.
Poll: Which type of Nike NFL jersey do you own?
Next, checkthe hemline tag. Is the material canvas or papery? Is it wrinkled?? The jock tag on an authentic NFL jersey has raised panels with embossed logos.
Examine the images below. Can you tell which ones are fake? (Navigate by using the arrows [desktop] or by dragging [mobile]).
- The first one appeared on the earliest counterfeit jerseys, and the poor quality is obvious.
- While the second one is much improved, it’s still obviously bogus. In addition to not appearing embossed, there’s no space between ‘NFL’ and ‘PLAYERS’, and the stitching is a contrasting color.
- Note the clear stitching on the third pic, as well as the embossed look of the panels & logos.
Is the NFL shield at the base of the neckline black & white, or red, white, & blue? Does it have a rubbery look?
Check out the images below. Note the raised lettering in the left picture, with the stars & football having a carved in appearance. In contrast, the one on the right is flat, to say nothing of the sloppy and frayed stitching.
Pro tip: Sometimes, counterfeiters will inadvertently mix features that are distinct to individual jersey models. These mashups are easily detected. For instance, if you spot a Nike jersey that combines stitched on letters & numbers with lightweight fabric, it’s a fake.
This is why it’s important to familiarize yourself with the NFL Nike jersey types.
How to tell if it’s a fake NFL Nike Elite jersey:
SAVE UP TO 54% ON NIKE NFL JERSEYS
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To begin with, Reebok NFL jerseys were manufactured in El Salvador, Korea, Vietnam, Guatemala, & Honduras. The exception to this rule are the custom and game-issued jerseys made in Berlin, Wisconsin by Ripon Athletic.
A genuine Reebok jersey (2008 and later) has a square hologram on the tag, similar to the one on the right.
Examine the 2-digit number that follows ‘Style #‘ on the collar tag, which represents the year.
What’s the significance? Well, for example, if you spot a Brett Favre Jets or Vikings jersey with ’06’, you know it’s a fake. (Favre joined those teams after the 2007 season). Furthermore, the year should be congruent with the hemline, or jock tag (see below).
Finally, examine the jock tag. But this can get tricky, because Reebok changed the tag design at least 4 times during its run. Specifically, there were variations with its own logo, and the inclusion of the ‘PLAYERS INC’ logo & subsequent change to ‘NFL PLAYERS’:
|2001||Vertical tag consisting of the Reebok logo, the NFL team helmet logo, & the NFL shield, accompanied by some text.|
|2002||Horizontally oriented, with the vector logo followed by ‘reebok’.|
|2005||Added the multi-colored ‘Players Inc’ logo, while its own became ‘Reebok’ followed by its vector logo.|
|2007||Changed ‘Players Inc’ to ‘NFL Players’. ‘Reebok’ became ‘Rbk’.|
|2008||Basically the same, but removed the vector logo and went with ‘Reebok’.|
REEBOK NFL JERSEYS VS NIKE: WHICH IS BEST FOR YOU?
Granted, this can get confusing, so just remember this – the devil is in the details.
To demonstrate, take the following image, which is a decent facsimile of the hemline tag circa 2008, except that:
- The NFL shield should have 1 star at its apex, followed by 3 rows of 8 stars each. In 2009, this was changed to 2 rows of 4 stars each.
- The base of the ‘F’ in ‘NFL’ is off-kilter; stars are not crisp.
How to tell a real Reebok NFL jersey from a fake:
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Mitchell and Ness
Another major producer of “real” NFL jerseys is Mitchell & Ness.
While they don’t make contemporary jerseys, they continue to churn out vintage models that are immensely popular.
So while you’re not as likely to encounter a counterfeit Mitchell & Ness throwback jersey, you should still be able to tell if it’s a fake.
Here are the 3 tell-tale signs from the above photo:
Firstly, the numbers: Although not overly shiny, it’s still a noteworthy example of what we discussed above.
Secondly, the NFL shield: The shield at the base of the neckline – which didn’t appear on M & N jerseys until 1991 – should look like…
(By the way, this also applies to Reebok jerseys)
Lastly, the jock tag: The tag at the garment hemline should resemble…
- Nike, and before that Reebok, do not & did not make their jerseys in China.
- One of the quickest ways to spot a fake NFL jersey is to examine the chest numbers. This will work even with a photograph.
- Tags, stitching, logos, & the fabric itself are other things to check when verifying authenticity.
- Not all counterfeit jerseys are created equal. While some are virtually indistinguishable from the real thing, others are blatantly bogus.
In the end, if you’re still having trouble telling a real jersey from a fake, here’s what to do:
- Post a photo of your suspect jersey, and we’ll try to determine its authenticity.
- Download our free ebook (a more comprehensive & detailed version of this page).
Did you like this page? Well, you can help make it even better by providing some feedback in the comments section below.
Next: Reebok NFL Jerseys vs Nike: Which Is Best for You?
Pay special attention to the numbers on the jersey, if they appear shiny, don't lay evenly flat and contain bubbling, you're looking at a fake jersey. Most fans know what their team's font looks like and this will help them spot fakes as most counterfeit jerseys use the wrong font for the team which is very noticeable.Is NFL Cheap jerseys legit? ›
Plenty of sites out there promote "authentic" jerseys for cheap, but in reality, they're far from authentic or official. Counterfeit NFL jerseys are undoubtedly tempting to fans who crave the lower price point and best deal, but don't get burned.Are authentic NFL jerseys stitched? ›
Authentic jerseys are the highest quality available to fans. These sports apparel options can feature breathable, top-of-the-line fabrics for fit and comfort. Numbers and lettering are stitched rather than screen printed.Is my jersey authentic? ›
The easiest way to distinguish between Authentic, Swingman and Replica jerseys is by looking at the tag on the bottom right side of the jersey. The Replica jerseys have a tag that looks different from that found on Swingman and Authentic jerseys, but Authentic and Swingman tags look almost identical.What is the most authentic NFL jersey? ›
Nike Elite – These are the authentic NFL jerseys, and the closest you can get as a fan to wearing what the players wear on the field. The fit will be slimmer than other jerseys, mimicking the athletic fit of the players' jerseys.What's the difference between authentic and original football shirts? ›
You'll notice that on authentic jerseys, the logos and emblems are heat transferred, rather than embroidered like you'll find on the replica jerseys. This is to ensure the athlete's design is as lightweight as possible.Is it better to buy authentic or replica jersey? ›
Authentic jerseys are designed with the best possible technology and fabrics for the highest level of play. They are an exact match to the jerseys you see players wearing on the field. Replica jerseys are made for a fan in the stands - with excellent materials for highest levels of comfort and wear.Is it illegal to buy counterfeit jerseys? ›
It is illegal to purchase counterfeit goods. Bringing them into the United States may result in civil or criminal penalties and purchasing counterfeit goods often supports criminal activities, such as forced labor or human trafficking.Are cheap jersey websites legit? ›
CheapJerseys.us has a consumer rating of 1.66 stars from 90 reviews indicating that most customers are generally dissatisfied with their purchases. Consumers complaining about CheapJerseys.us most frequently mention tracking number, credit card and several times problems.CheapJerseys.us ranks 90th among Jersey sites.How many brands of NFL jerseys are there authentic? ›
The two types of stitched NFL jerseys are the Nike Elite jerseys and the Nike Limited jerseys. The Nike Elite jerseys are the authentic jerseys, which means they are the closest you can get as a fan to wearing what the players wear on the field.
The main difference between a replica jersey and a fake jersey is that a replica jersey is an officially licensed product, while a fake jersey is not. So if you're looking for an authentic soccer experience, it's best to stick with replica jerseys rather than buying fakes.How do you tell if it's authentic? ›
- Unreal discounts. ...
- Flimsy packaging. ...
- Grammatical & spelling mistakes. ...
- Fake websites. ...
- Poor quality of products. ...
- Omissions & mismatch. ...
- Flawed fonts, logos. ...
- No contact details.
A certificate of authenticity is assigned to each piece of sports memorabilia and includes a matching hologram to the one affixed to the autographed item. Every piece of signed memorabilia is packaged with a registration card. The owner has the opportunity to register the item with Upper Deck Authenticated.What is the rarest football shirt? ›
- Barcelona 91-92 away kit. It's the rarest of a kind – the kit was orange, worn by the greats of the club like Michael Laudrup. ...
- Holland 1988 home kit. ...
- Napoli 1990-91 home kit. ...
- Man United 1986-88. ...
- Romania 1994-95 away kit. ...
- Liverpool 1989-91. ...
- Inter 1997-98. ...
- Arsenal 1991-93.
1. Tom Brady. At the end of a month, Tom Brady often has the top-selling jersey and it should never really be a surprise. He's widely considered to be not just the best quarterback of all time, but one of the best football players of all time and is a name that people who don't even watch the NFL know.Does replica jersey mean fake? ›
Replica jerseys are a real thing – they are built by official manufacturers and approved by clubs for fan and supporter wear, rather than real-life, match-playing wear.What is the difference between a replica and authentic? ›
Summary of Authentic vs. Replica. While authentic refers to something that is not a copy, hence is of undisputed origin, replica refers to an exact copy or replication of original items, such as paintings as well as other products, and resemble the original in terms of appearance and shape.What is the difference between replica and fake? ›
Counterfeit goods are produced with the malicious intent to deceive and mislead people into believing that the items are genuine when they are not. However, replica goods are not passed off as the original products. Instead, they are acknowledged to be merely identical to the branded goods.What's the difference between a replica jersey and an authentic jersey? ›
Replica jerseys make use of conventional, affordable fabric technology designed to keep you cool and comfortable. This material is typical fabric weight. Authentic jerseys make use of high-performance, sweat-wicking fabric.Are the jerseys on fanatics real? ›
Authentic Jerseys are available at Fanatics.com. These are the official jerseys worn by your favorite teams and players, so don't miss out on getting the ultimate authentic style. With an authentic jersey, you'll show you're serious about your fan loyalty.
The material's crappy; it doesn't look as good. You get what you pay for. The chief marketing officer, Frederick Felman, estimates 800,000 counterfeit jerseys are sold online each year.Is it illegal to buy fake NFL jerseys? ›
It is only a crime to sell counterfeit gear, not to buy it. Counterfeiters have also done more business as the price of jerseys has risen.What is the most counterfeited item? ›
- Footwear, e.g. Nike.
- Luxury designers, e.g. Gucci.
- Watches, e.g. Rolex.
The sale of counterfeit goods (as described below) is illegal, as you're probably aware.Which is the best jersey to buy? ›
- AS Roma home kit. ...
- FC Bayern München third kit. ...
- Paris Saint-Germain third kit. ...
- Chelsea FC third kit. ...
- Real Madrid C.F. ...
- Paris Saint-Germain away kit. ...
- Arsenal FC home kit. ...
- Inter Milan away kit.
In general, Poshmark is a safe and legitimate marketplace for sports jerseys. However, there are a significant number of sellers that are selling fake or replica jerseys. Buyers should do their due diligence on the seller to avoid being scammed.Is Official NFL Shop legit? ›
Overview. NFL Shop has a consumer rating of 1.52 stars from 730 reviews indicating that most customers are generally dissatisfied with their purchases. Consumers complaining about NFL Shop most frequently mention customer service, business days and day shipping problems. NFL Shop ranks 58th among Football sites.What is the most popular brand in the NFL? ›
The Dallas Cowboys is world's most valuable sporting brand valued at US$1.8 billion. The Dallas Cowboys have achieved a brand value of US$1.8 billion to be the most valuable brand in the NFL, according to the world's leading brand valuation consultancy, Brand Finance.Where are NFL replica jerseys made? ›
The NFL licenses the rights to replica jerseys worn by fans to many different companies. The majority of these replicas are manufactured in countries such as Honduras and Guatemala. But the jerseys worn by NFL players are manufactured in America and are tailored to the specifications of each player.Why are authentic football shirts so expensive? ›
The reason for the high prices of authentic kits is simple - fans are willing to pay much more for "the shirts worn by the players". In the USA and the big US sports, jerseys are even more expensive than soccer jerseys.
As we discussed above, jerseys are expensive mainly because they are in high demand, considered premium fan apparel, have detailed finishes, and because each major sport only has one sole provider, which allows that provider to drive up costs without fear of competition.Are replica jerseys stitched? ›
Replica jerseys are a full-button jersey that feature the same design as authentic jerseys, but are made of less durable fabric. Unlike authentic jerseys, replicas do not have the MLB logo on the back and rather than being sewn on, letters and patches are of tackle twill that is ironed or silk-screened to the jersey.How do you tell if you got a fake product? ›
- Not being able to find the identical product on the manufacturer's official site.
- Differences in design.
- Different product descriptions. Look for what materials the product is made from and its dimensions.
- A significant difference in price.
- Look for a website, social media presence and contact information. ...
- Look up the company's age and what else it sells. ...
- Know when cheap is too cheap. ...
- Find the company's physical headquarters. ...
- If it has a U.S. location, look up the business name with that state.
The word 'authentic' means reliable or genuine which can be equivalent to original, but not original. While, the word 'original' means the first or the earliest of all, which exist from its birth, the real true form from which replicas can be made, but those won't be the original one.Is authentic same as original? ›
Authentic means "genuine" or "original".How do I authenticate a used jersey? ›
One solid way of knowing the jersey is authentic is a letter from the professional sports team itself or a memorabilia company that has a contract to sell game used jerseys from a particular team or teams. A signed jersey can also add value and add verification too, if the player has signed it “game used”.How do you authenticate a football shirt? ›
Look out for poor stitching, fabric quality, fit and sizing issues. Back Four Insider TIP: Look inside the shirt at the stitching quality, particularly around the neckline and the badge. If it looks poorly made – it probably is. The Kit manufacturer logos are printed onto the fabric with a fake, see above.Who is the best authenticator for sports memorabilia? ›
PSA is the largest and most trusted autograph authentication service in the world. With over 35 million collectibles certified, PSA authenticates a vast array of signatures, ranging from sports to history and entertainment.Is the NFL jersey shop legit? ›
NFL Shop has a consumer rating of 1.52 stars from 730 reviews indicating that most customers are generally dissatisfied with their purchases. Consumers complaining about NFL Shop most frequently mention customer service, business days and day shipping problems. NFL Shop ranks 58th among Football sites.
Since most autographed jerseys are meant to be framed & displayed not worn, it isn't worth the the additional cost of a branded jersey like a Nike or Adidas. What most companies do is manufacture a replica blank jersey with the appropriate team colors & stitch the athletes name and number on the jersey.Is Nflshop com a legitimate website? ›
NFL Shop is your source for the top selection of officially licensed NFL apparel and gear for all 32 teams. Browse a leading assortment of official NFL merchandise from trusted brands like Nike, New Era, Fanatics Branded and many more.Is Wholesalejersey com legit? ›
WholesaleJerseys has a consumer rating of 3.4 stars from 5 reviews indicating that most customers are generally satisfied with their purchases. WholesaleJerseys ranks 97th among Jersey sites.Are Nike NFL jerseys real? ›
Although the Nike Elite jerseys are the authentic jerseys in the NFL, the Nike Limited jerseys also share many of the authentic features, and are offered at a reduced price point. In this article let's take a closer look at the Nike Elite and Nike Limited jerseys so you can choose which one will be best for you.What is the best item to get autographed? ›
It's not something you see in cartoons depicting autograph hounds. You can actually buy an autograph book where you can get famous people to sign in. I dare say that it's the most appropriate item for the job since it's practically made for it. And it's great for autograph collecting.
#1 George Washington's Acts of Congress: $9.8 Million
The first place in this list of most expensive autographs belongs to George Washington's personal copy of the Constitution, Bill of Rights, and the First Congress. He signed the first page of this book which was put up for auction at Sotheby's in 2012.
- TIGER WOODS. Notorious for both martial issues and hole-in-ones, Tiger Woods has been known to refuse fan-pleaded autographs in public. ...
- JAKE ARRIETA. ...
- CHIPPER JONES. ...
- BARRY BONDS. ...
- PEYTON MANNING. ...
- AARON RODGERS. ...
- BRETT FAVRE. ...
- RUSTY TILLMAN.
|Rank||Website||Category Similarweb website categorization|
|1||nfl.com||Sports > American Football|
|2||afl.com.au||Sports > American Football|
|3||pro-football-reference.com||Sports > American Football|
|4||globle-game.com||Sports > American Football|
Official NFL Jerseys from NFL Shop: 2022 NFL Uniforms from Nike.Why are sports jerseys so expensive? ›
As we discussed above, jerseys are expensive mainly because they are in high demand, considered premium fan apparel, have detailed finishes, and because each major sport only has one sole provider, which allows that provider to drive up costs without fear of competition.