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League says Nike deal won’t lead to dramatic jersey design changes


Earlier today, we suggested that folks thinking about buying an NFL jersey should consider waiting until April of this year, when the switch flips from Reebok to Nike. But with a Nike exec saying in October 2010 that the company plans on “changing the NFL jersey dramatically,” the league is now saying otherwise.

“Logos are controlled by teams and the NFL,” league spokesman Brian McCarthy told PFT by email this morning. “That will not change. Teams have to apply to league to make changes to logos and colors.

“We anticipate new uniform technology (i.e., performance-driven, lighter materials). That’s what Nike’s [Charlie] Denson was referring to in his interview in 2010 regarding changes.”

So, apparently, the jerseys will look the same, barring any changes that would be made in the ordinary course of changing jerseys. Of course, the shift to Nike could cause some teams to decide to make the change.

Last year, for example, Seahawks president Peter McLoughlin said that the team will use the occasion to re-do their duds. “There will be no changes for ’11, for the upcoming season,” McLoughlin told Dave “Softy” Mahler of KJR. “2011 is the final year for the Reebok deal with the NFL, and starting in 2012 we’re going to be going with a Nike jersey and a Nike design. So we’ve actually met with Nike, and I think we were the first NFL team to meet with them, and we had a fascinating session with them. Pete Carroll was in the room, John Schneider, all kinds of people, and we’re looking at all kinds of new designs, and new kinds of jerseys, and we’re talking about a throwback for sure. So there’s a lot of creative stuff in the works right now.”

Thus, we won’t know for sure the team jerseys that will look different until the new jerseys are unveiled. The league says that’ll happen in late April, in connection with the 2012 draft.

As to players changing jersey numbers, McCarthy said that the policy won’t change. Players wanting to change their numbers will have to submit requests to the team, and the team will then pass the requests along to the league. Still, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello separately tells PFT that the requirement that a player who changes his number refund Reebok for the unsold inventory of jerseys bearing the prior number will go away in conjunction with the changeover.

So if, for example, Adrian Peterson wants to change his number (as he said he wants to do on his Twitter page), he won’t have to write a check to Reebok.

The bigger takeaway is that Nike won’t be unleashing haphazardly a new array of alternative looks and designs.

We think.