Editor's Note: Please welcome Colts' fan Jacob Lewin for his second guest post for Colts Authority, his last piece looking at the possible future for Austin Collie. This piece is of a much different vein, but is still a great read and discussion on iconic jersey's. Enjoy! -KJR
Ever since the Indianapolis Colts decided not to re-sign Dwight Freeney, I kept thinking about what I should do with my two my colts jerseys of yore: Dwight Freeney (#93) and Peyton Manning (#18). Both players are iconic and timeless Colts, and many of us fans own(ed) one, or both of their jerseys.
So, now that our favorite stars are/will-be playing for different teams, what are us fans, who clung to these jerseys – wearing them at games, at tailgate parties, while watching in our living rooms as friends and family think we’re crazy – supposed to do?
Can we wear them this coming season to a game, or at a viewing-party? Do you have to wait until they retire? Is it sacrilegious to sell them (at a reduced price)? These individuals are pillars of the Colts of the 2000s!! Not only us Colts fans face this dilemma – players like Ed Reed or Brian Urlacher, certainly iconic images, may likely be on different teams next season. What are all of us supposed to do?
No doubt this is something us fans have thought about, but lack the guidance to know what to do. Bill Simmons codified 20 rules for being a fan and while he provides some guidance with regards to attire, he never discussed the situation of wearing a jersey of a released/cut player. I recognized this void, and decided to lay out some need-to-knows to wearing jerseys ranging from retired to unheralded players:
1. You can always wear a jersey of an iconic player AFTER retirement – Duh! But it still needs to be said. After Montana and Favre retired, no doubt Packers and Niners fans are justified in wearing them wherever and whenever. Quarterbacks who brought superbowls, or win MVPs, are part of a team’s identity, in any era, whether or not they had garbage times on the chiefs (and what Niners QB hasn’t had a stint with the Chiefs!!!) So when Peyton retires, even if he racks up 2 superbowls in Denver, he will always be a Colt, and fans should be proud to wear it.
2. It is NEVER allowed to wear a jersey of Bad Free-Agent Signing – This is best explained by example: an Albert Haynesworth Redskins jersey; Brett Favre Jets jersey; Ron Artest/Metta World Peace Pacers jersey; Andre Rison Browns jersey, etc.
3. It is NEVER allowed to wear a jersey of draft-bust – Again, best by example: JeMarcus Russell (Raiders); Jeff George (Colts); Tim Couch (Browns); Ryan Leaf (Chargers), etc.
4. Tread carefully with jerseys of Kickers and Punters – I was at a Giants game last year (I live in New York) and saw someone wearing a Jeff Feagles jersey (#17). Jeff Feagles, Seriously?!?! I can only assume it was ACTUALLY Jeff Feagles.
5. It is NEVER allowed to wear a jersey of a player who forsakes your franchise – I hope all Cavs fans burned Lebron James’ jersey. It is entirely inexcusable to own one, much less wear one. Show some team pride. Lebron even had the audacity to entertain the possibility of having his jersey retired in Cleveland. Shame. (I have to also mention Roger Clemens in any of the following jerseys: Yankees, Astros, Blue Jays or Red Sox jerseys)
6. It is NOT permissible to wear the jersey of a cut/released player of his NEW team – Remember that putz who wore a Peyton Manning Denver Broncos jersey to last year’s Colts preseason game? Well, I hope by now fans have embraced the Andrew Luck era, and this won’t happen again. That being said, I also expect that no one will wear a Freeney jersey of his NEW team this coming season.
7. You CANNOT wear a jersey of a player who did not win a championship on his original team, and only won on a later team - For example, wearing a Shaq Orlando Magic jersey, or even worse, an A-Rod Mariners jersey – not okay. Lebron James Cavs jersey – another reason it's forbidden.
8. It is okay to wear a jersey of a retired player, who was highly successful on his first team, and then again on his new team - Best example: Kurt Warner Arizona Cardinals, and another reason it's allowed: he's arguably the best QB they have ever had. You should also be able to wear a Peyton Manning Broncos jersey, after he retires. Tony Gonzalez – you can wear both Chiefs and Falcons, and Ray Allen – both Celtics and Bucks…not Heat, though. That's just ring chasing…
7. Jersey of current player on a different team, wait until retirement – I get it, you want to show your team pride and wear your team’s colors. Also, you spent that $$, or you got the jersey as a gift, and this is how you connect to the game. Bud Light says, “it’s only weird if it doesn’t work.” But still, wearing the jersey of a player currently on another team should not be encouraged. Fanship is about supporting the team, whether or not you are “happy” with a certain administrative decision. Wearing a Colts’ Peyton or Freeney jersey is not supporting the CURRENT state of the Colts’ team, more represents nostalgia. Nevertheless, even though I do not encourage this practice, I cannot openly criticize someone who does – I totally get where that person is coming from and wearing it is certainly better than selling it! I mean, who knows who may end up wearing it???
In the end, fans should continue to support iconic players like Dwight Freeney or Ed Reed, no matter where they play. But for now, Dwight Freeney is on a different team and wearing a Colts jersey supports neither the old team nor the current team. My advice: be patient. When a player’s time to exit the game arrives, then it’s time to whip that jersey out. For now, people like myself will have to wait a few more years (thankfully I do own an Andrew Luck jersey for now) but it will be worth the wait. And, who knows, Freeney or Manning may end up retiring a Colt, like Jeff Saturday will.