The late Vince Lombardi once famously said, “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.”
Clearly he wasn’t referring to fan popularity and merchandise sales when he made that statement.
If we’ve learned one thing from the National Football League’s most recent merchandise sales numbers on NFLShop.com, it’s that sometimes there isn’t much of a correlation between winning—or even playing—and what fans are buying.
Here’s a mind-smoker for you: Tim Tebow leads all players in jersey sales from April 1 to Oct. 31, according to NFLShop.com. Sure, the Florida graduate and Denver Broncos back-up QB is a nice story, but he’s hardly played and hasn’t thrown a single pass. He has scored two rushing touchdowns.
If Tebow holds on to his lead, he’ll be the first rookie to lead the league in jersey sales since the NFL began tracking such numbers.
But the surprises don’t stop with Tebow’s ascension. Dallas Cowboys merchandise is at the top in the team category. The Cowboys have lost seven of their first eight games.
The Indianapolis Colts, a perennial playoff team over the last decade, aren’t in the top 10, according to NFLShop.com figures. I guess the Cowboys really are America’s team. Maybe not so much for the Colts. I’m sure Colts products are selling hot in this mid-sized market, but nationally, they don’t appear to be so hot right now.
The Pittsburgh Steelers, New Orleans Saints, New York Giants and Broncos round out the top five.
Surely star Colts quarterback Peyton Manning is close to Tebow in jersey sales? Well, he ranks fourth. The Saints’ Drew Brees and Steelers’ Troy Polamalu fall in between Tebow and Manning.
Despite his team’s struggles and a dust-up over potential sexual harassment in the work place, Minnesota Vikings QB Brett Favre is No. 5 on the list. Rounding out the top 10 in jersey sales are Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers, New England’s Tom Brady, Dallas’ Miles Austin, Washington’s Donovan McNabb and Dallas’ Tony Romo. The way McNabb is getting along with his coach, his fans can probably get his Redskins jersey half off by January.
Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger is not in the top 25 in jersey sales for the first time since his rookie year in 2004. At the beginning of last season, before his latest indiscretion, Big Ben was fifth on the list.