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.
I own four Colts jerseys. The last one was given to me by a friend this past year. He asked which one I wanted, and I specifically said "Freeney". I was actually trying to decide between Freeney and Mathis, but given my other three jerseys, I went with #93.
See, my other three jerseys, in order of acquisition, are #32, #18, and #88. Adding #93 to that collection was just the right thing to do. I knew he wouldn't be w/the team for long; and he, along w/the other three, is a part of the foundation of greatness that built the Colts into what they are today.
Guarantee you I would have ZERO problem wearing any of those jerseys to a game, tailgate, etc., at all. In fact, I'd have an issue if someone were to question me on it. To me, it's equally as important to recognize the past as it is to celebrate the present/future. Traded, retired, on a speedboat in Miami, stocking up on tasty cakes – it does not matter. These guys ARE Colts. Not just WERE, they still are and always will be.
Dudes, I think a Jeff George jersey could be a hipsteresque type of thing. You know, wearing it *ironically*?
Either that, or you could call it a statement of pride: "Yeah, folks, I lived through *those* years! UberFan me!". :D
Here's a non-shortened link, for anyone who wants it. http://www.coltsauthority.com/2013-articles/march/guest-post-what-do-i-do-with-my-freeney-jersey.html
8. All the above rules do not apply if the player in question is the GOAT and it is your team that opted to go in a different direction when he still had several great years left in him.
I will continue to root for the Colts while proudly wearing my #18 jersey.
@matt_has you can wear your edge jersey or you Harrison jersey but wait to wear manning and freeney till they retire, clearly you can do whatever you'd like, but common sense dictates someone will say something about it! I own two 93 jerseys as well as two 18 (blue and white duh ,,. Gotta we're blue at home and white at away games) but they are in the hook so to speak till its time for a ride down memory lane ... Embrace the present, respect the past!
@AJ_ How is Jeff George a "bust"? Whitlock says he could come back and play TODAY, bc he can still throw a ball "over those mountains over there", a la Uncle Rico.
@AJ_ Where would you even find a Jeff George Colts jersey? Do they even still exist?
@DougEngland What happens when the Broncos play the Colts? or Freeney is pass-rushing Andrew Luck?
@Colts If it were "common sense" then we wouldn't have suggested etiquette lists, would we? "Common sense" doesn't dictate grown men dressing like kids and spending $100 on a football jersey either, but we do it anyway. Because of passion and love for our team and players – past and present.
I agree "embrace the present, respect the past", but these two things are not mutually exclusive. One can actually embrace the present *by* respecting the past.
When the CBS cameras pan the crowd during the Broncos game this season, there will be no shortage of Manning Colts jerseys in the stands. And that's 100% ok.
@jelewin I fully realize that some Colts fans may disagree with me. And I'm not commenting to question other people's loyality or fandom. Or to bring up old wounds or disagreements. (As Wormtongue Kravitz's recent interview with Irsay did.)
But I will continue to root for the COLTS wearing my COLTS #18 jersey. And I do this to show my loyality to both the team and the player. My biggest sports fear is that there is a bigger riff between Peyton and the Colts organization (i.e. Irsay) than we will ever know. But just as I don't believe Peyton will ever forget us Colts fans, I will never forget or forego him.
And i really believe that this coming season when the Colts play the Broncos, will be the worst day of my sports fandom.
And if the Colts play Freeney's new team, not to take any chances, we just double team him all day with Castanzo and Allen.
@DougEngland That would be absolutely classic. And probably the loudest the Luke has ever been. ;)
@matt_has I wonder if when the Broncos have the ball if Peyton out of habit will wave his arms to get the Indy faithful to quiet down.
@DougEngland It's true no one truly knows what went down, but in the end, I think it did not end in such acrimony like with so many other players I mentioned above (Clemens, Lebron). Peyton will be cheered when he comes back "home" and will certainly be in the ring of honor. Yet, fans (like me) are really happy with Luck and the direction of the franchise, so it's fine, but that game will be certainly tough.
That being said, I still rooted like crazy and lost my mind during that Ravens/Broncos game. I'm dying to see Peyton get another ring and shut up the "Brady has three rings, and is better" people.
@DougEngland You do realize that the Broncos are playing @ Indy, so it's going to be a media spectacle. Bet your bottom $$ it will be on Sunday Night Football, with scores of interviews and "documentary style" teasers in anticipation. It's going to be nuts, and even for me, it's going to be hard. The fact that Colts didn't end up in Denver in the divisional playoff round makes this all the more tense. The first "matchup" is on our turf, not his "new" turf.
@DougEngland Liked for the "Wormtongue" appellation. I've had worse for that guy, but it fits in this case.