In a recent Inside Carolina article written by Matt Morgan, it was reported that UNC would no longer sell jerseys that have the numbers of current star/popular players. That means you won’t be able to buy an Elijah Hood, Mitch Trubisky, or Ryan Switzer football jersey this year. Instead, as seen in the tweet below from Johnny T-Shirt, one of the jerseys that will be sold is with the number 16. Sorry Manny Miles.
New @TarHeelFootball Jerseys now in stock! Get Ready for the new season today! https://t.co/7q6CMN1vBP pic.twitter.com/podDCIG9Dp— Johnny T-shirt (@JohnnyTshirt) July 18, 2016
UNC is certainly not the first school to do away with selling jerseys of athletes who are the perceived stars of their respective teams. Last year, Ohio State football (along with other colleges and universities) chose to no longer sell jersey numbers of their star players. Instead, they chose to sell the numbers 1 (just because) and 15 (for the current year).
UNC has chosen to follow a similar path for football in that 16 is the number for the current year, and 89 (the other jersey number that they are selling) is for the year the school was founded. It will be interesting to see what numbers the UNC basketball team chooses to sell in the upcoming season.
Obviously, this decision is being made in response to the Ed O’Bannon court case, and I can understand why more colleges and universities are choosing to follow suit. However, as someone with two kids, I am disappointed in this decision. I would certainly be more inclined to purchase a jersey, of a particular star athlete from that year’s team.
For example, this year I would have purchased a #34 jersey for each of them. Elijah Hood appears to be a very hard-working student-athlete, and (if he stays healthy) will probably have another successful season on the football field. But with UNC selling a #16 jersey, I am less likely to buy a jersey for my kids. It would be hard for them to get excited about wearing a jersey of someone who hardly plays (again, sorry Manny Miles).
According to a NY Times article written back in 2015, NCAA jersey sales made up only 5% of college apparel sold (compared to 25%-30% in professional leagues). So, if the number of NCAA jerseys sold nosedives in the coming years due to these changes, it will probably not have a huge effect. Whereas, if you started taking Lebron James jerseys off the shelves and replaced them with Dahntay Jones jerseys, that would have a much larger effect.
As a UNC fan, if you can’t get excited about purchasing a numbered jersey based on that particular year, I am here to help you out. Here is a list of some obscure jersey numbers or throwbacks that you can purchase in the upcoming years:
You can purchase a John Swofford throwback UNC football uniform. This will certainly excite your NC State friends, if you have any.
You can purchase an honorary Kobe Bryant UNC basketball jersey. He would have looked good in Carolina blue.
You could honor one of the best dunkers in UNC history and buy an Orlando Melendez jersey. I mean the guy was a Harlem Globetrotter too. (A few years ago I actually saw someone at a UNC football game wearing a Melendez throwback jersey).
You could purchase a Chase Rice throwback football uniform. Who knows, he may end up being the greatest country music star of all time.
You could honor one of the most intimidating UNC basketball players of all time and buy a Julius Peppers jersey. I think we have all seen the Youtube video of Peppers destroying a rim on an alley-oop from Ronald Curry against Wake.
You could honor the only UNC basketball player to wear the number 51, Timo Makkonen.
“Go the distance” (Field of Dreams) and get a Moonlight Graham UNC baseball jersey. You don’t even need a number on the uniform because I don’t think they had numbers when Graham played at UNC.
Honor UNC’s tallest basketball player and greatest Game of Thrones actor, Neil Fingleton.
(Leave some of your obscure UNC throwback jerseys you currently or would like to own in the comments section below.)