It is jersey week at SB Nation and as a fan of the team that wears the best jerseys in the NFL, it is easy for Bears fans to scoff at suspect redesigns from the likes of Atlanta and Cleveland (not the Chargers though, they nailed it). Not everyone has the perfect color combination of navy and orange, a look that’s both slimming and stylish all months of the year. But how does one choose from all the options out there? There are simply too many good choices!
Maybe you’re looking for your first jersey or maybe you’re interested in rounding out your collection. I’ve got you covered with this guide below.
Question 1 – How much money do you want to spend?
A jersey purchase can be downright expensive. If you aren’t really in a position to buy a new jersey from the team shop at retail price, think about investigating a few options before you shell out cash that could go towards other things. Check out your local Goodwill (you never know what you might find) or discount surplus clothing stores like TJ Maxx and Marshalls. I know my local Marshalls always seems to have many Vikings jerseys that are downright cheap (I assume all the Bears jerseys sold and they only have purple ones left over for the secondary market). You can also check online sites like Ebay but there are some obvious caveats when jersey shopping online, including some knockoff type jerseys that may not arrive as advertised (purchase at your own risk).
If you’d like to buy a new jersey, sign up for the team’s email list and wait for a sale. They run regularly up to 25-30% off and as of this writing, there are plenty of jerseys with that max 30% discount on the team’s Pro Shop site. That can come in handy since the entry level for an adult jersey is a cool $100.
If you are going with the Nike route, there are two levels to the jerseys. The “Nike Game” version is the entry level with screen-printed numbers and nameplate. The “Nike Limited” jerseys step it up with sewn-on numbers and letters for the nameplate plus some additional features including similar construction to the on-field product while retaining a sense of wear-ability with Dri-fit fabric and a comfortable cut.
I’ve always liked the “Limited” versions of these jerseys with the sewn-on numbers and letters best, but they retail for 50% more than the screen printed. There are, of course, ways to spend more money if you really wanted to, but those are the primary versions readily available.
Question 2 – Which jersey color/style option is best for me?
Really, only you can answer that question. If you are in love with the orange jerseys and want to make that you’re one and only, go for it. If you have five navy jerseys and you are looking to buy a sixth one in navy, I’ll quote Matt Nagy – “be you.” However, if you are stuck and not sure what you’d like to do, here is some basic advice.
First jersey: For your first jersey, go for the traditional navy home jersey. It’s classic, no one will confuse it with another team, and it looks good. It’s the best looking jersey in the league for a reason.
Building a jersey wardrobe: If you already have a couple of jerseys and like collecting them, I like the idea of grabbing some of the alternate and throwback versions. The white away jerseys are an underrated option as well, offering a cooler option for the warmer months.
Nike currently offers the 1936 throwbacks that the Bears wore in 2019. This could be a good addition to your collection as it has a white jersey base and could be used as an “away” jersey for you to wear during road games. Throwbacks in general are fun when they get an update and refresh and I believe they did a great job on the ‘36.
The alternate orange provides a splash of color to a navy-dominated closet. It would seem like one orange jersey would be enough for anyone but again, to each their own.
I am personally not a fan of the “fashion” jerseys that use colors and styles that are not part of the official jersey lineup of the team. I have seen camouflage, a grey base, black out, black and gold, pro bowl, etc. Again, if this is your thing, go for it, but it would not line up in the “canon” of jersey choices in my opinion.
Question 3 – Which player do I choose?
There are a few schools of thought here, each with their own advantages.
The Hall of Famer: The Bears have a lot of them to choose from and no one is ever going to turn up a brow at a Walter Payton jersey. It would be cool if you watched the player during the time he played but honestly, if you are a student of the game and simply appreciate the player, that qualifies for me. I would not have any issues with wearing a #3 or #42 jersey even though I certainly never saw Bronko Nagurski or Sid Luckman play. I would also include any player who would make a Bears Hall of Fame if one existed as quality choices (think Peanut Tillman or Matt Forte). There have been offerings of Payton, Brian Urlacher, Mike Singletary, Gale Sayers, Mike Ditka, and Dick Butkus in the stores over the last few years.
DANGER LEVEL: 0/5
The Current Star: If you want to buy a jersey of a current player, here is the safest option for you. In recent years, the online shops have even put in a guarantee on certain jerseys that the player will remain with the team so you won’t have an outdated jersey or you can exchange it for a new one. Right now, that player is Khalil Mack. He is the current player with the biggest contract and the highest jersey sales. Sometimes, there is safety in numbers.
DANGER LEVEL: 1/5
The Fan Favorite: This is the jersey of a player that isn’t necessarily a great player but someone who has earned a place in the heart of Bears fans. It carries with it more danger because if the player isn’t a pillar of the team, he could be released or traded, particularly in today’s climate. The advantage is that it might get a little extra credit for fellow Bears fans who see your Eddie Goldman jersey as a sign of a fan who “gets it.”
DANGER LEVEL: 3/5
The Cult Classic: As a Bears fan, these are players of yesteryear who left a positive mark on the franchise but aren’t making any type of Bears Hall of Fame. This guy might have been the 10th or 15th or 30th best player on the squad but Bears fans remember him fondly. Examples might include Tom Waddle, Patrick Mannelly, Raymont Harris, Alex Brown, Isreal Idonije, or Big Cat Williams.
DANGER LEVEL: 2/5
The Rookie: This option scares me. The “hit rate” for rookies in the NFL is low, regardless of who is drafting or what position the player plays. It can be tempting to go all-in early on a young player that you really like but there’s a chance the player doesn’t succeed or make it to his second contract with the team. While there may be some bragging rights with being the first person to order a custom Eddie Jackson jersey, there are plenty of people lining their closet floors with Kevin White’s #13…or #11… or whatever.
DANGER LEVEL 4/5
The Aging Vet Signing: I will never understand Bears fans that bought a Jared Allen jersey. There are great players in Bears history that signed on to play their last year or two in Chicago. It’s tough to see the return on investment for a player that made his name with another squad (particularly a rival), squeezing out an extra year or two from his career.
DANGER LEVEL 100/5
Grab whatever jersey you want, just know that there might be some downside to your selection. If you like having a current player but want to minimize your risk, wait until the player signs a second contract. Eddie Jackson’s new deal in the offseason moves him into safer territory than, say, Anthony Miller. Get the color option you like but preferably something that player would actually wear on the field.
I really struggled to decide my latest jersey purchase, waiting on Nike to release an Eddie Jackson Limited option. Ultimately, my love of the 1936 throwbacks pushed me to buy Mack’s 52 last week. It looks great and absolutely makes me want to convert my extremely limited speed to power on my next pass rush...
What’s your jersey buying philosophy? What was your most recent jersey purchase and what ultimately made you pull the trigger? Let me know in the comments below or hit me up on Twitter @gridironborn.