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NFL Jersey Buying Guide

Buying NFL jerseys is the simply one of the best way that fans can show team pride. No matter if you’re watching a game in the stadium, posted up on your couch, or sitting down at your local bar, you can show your team allegiance with NFL jerseys in your favorite player’s name.

If you’re searching for an NFL jersey online or in-store, however, it may be difficult to decide which type to choose and how to tell the difference between authentic and fake products. You will want to make sure you know what kind you’re looking for before you buy, whether you want a replica or a standard game day shirt.

If you want to learn how to purchase the best style and fit for you or someone else, refer to this NFL jersey buying guide – we’ll cover all you need to know about buying NFL jerseys, from determining quality to picking out the right size.

History of NFL Jerseys

Like all sports, football has nothing short of a great background story about how it came to be. From the original uniforms and helmets to modern fabrics and cleats, today’s football jerseys, in particular, have come a long way.

Several decades ago, football players hardly looked ready for an intense game of consistent contact. There was no such thing as helmets, mouth guards, shoulder pads or cleats on the field. When helmets finally became a part of the uniform, they did little to protect people from head injuries, but they did slightly help cushion the blow from opponents.

Player uniforms used to consist of high socks and comfortable long sleeve shirts. Jerseys were often made from wool and other heavy materials for durability, since football has been a major contact sport since the beginning. But long sleeve, wool shirts? Yes, a far cry from the ventilated and form-fitting jerseys in today’s league.

Most football teams color coordinated their jerseys for games, but not one player looked like another regarding the color and style of shirt they wore. Many players sported brown, black, navy or other variations of dark-colored uniforms in an attempt to remain unified.

NFL Jerseys in History

But as the sport advanced through the years, so did football jerseys. The 1960s were actually when colorful and more integrated jerseys made an appearance. With the names and numbers of players fashioned onto the shirts, this change made a significant difference in how referees, coaches, commentators and spectators referenced the game. Now, NFL teams redesign their jerseys and tweak various aspects on a somewhat regular basis in order to create new looks and keep things fresh.

With an incredible difference between jerseys worn today and those from the earliest games, football fans have even transformed the way they support teams and wear jerseys. When the sport was in its early stages, spectators and fans wore everyday clothing as they cheered from the bleachers. Throughout the years, it transformed into people dressing like their favorite players in order to show their support, by sporting the same jerseys.

There is no said rhyme or reason about why the trend of looking like football players took off — it’s something that simply evolved and became increasingly popular. Detailed jerseys with names and numbers of football stars now line stadiums from top to bottom and fill living rooms across the nation.

While dressing like a football player when you weren’t the one running the ball seemed a little absurd back in the day, now it’s normal behavior across all sports. Dressing like players is mainstream compared to decades ago — even to the point that if you don’t wear a jersey, you stand out from the crowd!

Types of NFL Jerseys

Nike NFL Jersey Manufacturer

NFL jersey comparison can be tricky when you’re not sure what to look for. Since Nike became the official manufacturer of NFL jerseys in 2012, they have designed several different lines of football jerseys. The contract reportedly called for $220 million each year, and Nike will continue its contract through 2019.

While the NFL carries Nike brand apparel, other favorite brands include Mitchel and Ness as well as Reebok — the former official manufacturer for the NFL. Both Reebok and Mitchell and Ness cater to previous NFL players more than Nike. They're also neither official nor authentic, but they still carry the NFL league logo.

Nike Elite NFL Jerseys

Elite NFL Jerseys

Elite jerseys are for both fans and professional players alike but are also the most expensive. You can wear them during games or as you cheer on the sidelines. As the premium NFL jerseys on the market, the fit of Elites are great at allowing natural movement, and are ideal for enhanced performance.

Made of nylon and spandex, these jerseys are also water-repellent, which is perfect for intense training sessions and watching a game in the rain. A difference between the body and mesh also allows the jersey to stretch in specific areas to provide a comforting fit without sacrificing shape. Flywire around the collar prevents stretching, too – all meaning that if you’re looking for a jersey that holds its original shape throughout all conditions, this may be the best option for you.

They’re also more breathable: fashioned after the Elite 51 NFL uniforms worn by most teams, the Elite uniforms have strategic ventilation throughout the jersey to keep you cool.

Nike Limited NFL Jerseys

Limited jerseys appear similar to Elite jerseys but are made of polyester. Designed for fans, Limited NFL uniforms are both authentic and official. While Elite and Limited jerseys are perfect for practical use as much as they are for fashion, there are a few differences between them.

The Limited version has a tailored fit design, but it doesn’t stretch quite the same as an Elite type jersey. It also has a more traditional size chart you use, compared to numbered sizes on Elites. For example, Limited shirts read either small, medium, large or extra-large, found on front-bottom tags, while Elites read particular numbers.

Although Limited NFL jerseys lack stretch and flexibility, they do have Flywear strength and ventilation to keep your body cool as you cheer on your team. Their quality sits between that of an Elite and Game jersey, and has an embroidered Nike patch.

Nike Game NFL Jerseys

NFL Game Jerseys

The most common NFL jerseys found in stores are the Game jerseys, made of polyester. At first glance, they look like real Elite jerseys, but the difference lies in fabric quality and durability. Game uniforms also have a jock tag on the front side as well as different sizing compared to the numerals found on authentic jerseys.

The official — but not authentic — Game jerseys are the least expensive, with no irritating neck tag. Nike uses screen-print letters and numbers to give them a softer feel, which sets them apart from Limited jerseys that have embroidered lettering. The quality may be lower, but the jerseys still include the Nike and NFL logos.

When you have a day full of tailgating activities planned or want something for everyday wear, this jersey is the ideal option.

NFL Pro Line Jerseys

The NFL’s Pro Line jerseys are similar to Game jerseys but differ because Nike is not the manufacturer. The uniforms don’t have Nike logos or trademarks, yet they're fully licensed by the NFL. These polyester jerseys are for sale only on the NFL website. They're official but not authentic, with similar logos, numbers and letters.

Throwback Jerseys

If you idolize a retired legend or are a fan of one of the all-time greats, Throwback jerseys are the way to go. They replicate previous designs, and you can even find some with autographs! Throwback uniforms range between the cost of Premier and Authentic jerseys, and some have commemorative patches. Because jerseys change over the years, Reebok and Mitchell and Ness offer replica jerseys that come with names, numbers and logos of famous players.

How to Spot Authentic vs. Fake Jerseys

Determining whether you are buying an authentic or fake NFL jersey is difficult because they often look the same — until you begin to scrutinize the details. To make it easy, we've put together some tell-tale signs of both authentic and cheap uniforms.

Real and authentic jerseys often have the following features and characteristics:

  • Additional security stitching
  • An applique NFL shield
  • Low and stiff jock tags
  • High-quality materials
  • Matte instead of shiny finishes
  • More expensive prices
  • A Nike swoosh logo located at the right of the official league logo
  • Reflective numbers
  • A single seam on bottom inside
  • Smooth hemline tags
  • Square instead of circular holograms

Manufacturers use different materials and techniques than NFL licensed manufacturers. The easiest way to tell is via price and stitching as well as the following:

  • Cheaper materials
  • Copy Throwback and Pro Line jerseys instead of Authentic
  • Crooked stitching
  • Different lettering
  • High jock tag
  • Lack of security stitching
  • Less expensive prices
  • Loose threads
  • Lower levels of quality and detail
  • A pair of seams
  • Tags that bend

If a retailer offers you a deal too good to be true, it probably is unless a player got traded. You should expect to pay more for authentic jerseys because of premium quality materials and attention to detail. You can also tell the difference between uniforms by looking at where they were made.

If you shop online where shops offer detailed pictures, you'll likely find a good choice. However, if cropped photos appear on your feed and are taken far away with limited views of detail, stay away. You want to invest your money in a dealer who backs up their authentic jerseys and is willing to provide you with quality pictures.

When it comes to sizing, NFL jersey sizes run a little trickier than your everyday T-shirt. If you are searching for a jersey in-store, it’s easier to try of various sizes and find what works for you. But if you’re ordering online, it will take some time and research on your part to make the correct measurements – which is why we’ve laid out all of the sizing information you need below!

Buying Men's NFL Jerseys: How do NFL Jersey Sizes Work?

After learning about the several different types of NFL jerseys, you may now be asking yourself, “What size jersey should I buy from the NFL?” At first, you may think it’s a matter of choosing between a medium and large, but it all depends on the jersey class — Elite, Limited or Game.

NFL Jersey Sizing

Each type of jersey has a different sizing chart that measures a variety of features on your body. The charts also have different sizing numbers. For example, Limited NFL jerseys have a traditional size chart indicating small, medium, large, extra-large and so forth, while Elite jerseys use numbers to show sizes — similar to how jeans work. Elite jersey sizing charts read between numeric sizes of 40–60.

Men’s football jerseys sizing charts often include measurements for the chest, waist and hips as well as the front and back length of the jersey and the neck and sleeves.

Measuring the areas of your body that the sizing chart indicates is a key factor in finding the exact size you want. Here’s what you need to know about measuring for the perfect fit. If you are wearing heavy or bulky material like a sweatshirt, remove the garment for accurate readings. You will receive the most precise numbers when you have someone else use a measuring tape. Be sure to measure the following areas:

  • Chest: Lift your arms up and have someone place the measuring tape flat across the widest part of your chest. Place your arms to the side with a slight lift, making sure the band is under them. 
  • Waist: Stand straight with your feet together and measure the narrowest part of your waist.
  • Hips: Stand straight and measure the largest part of your hips all the way around while your heels are together.
  • Front and back length: Front and back length indicate how long the jersey will be in each respective area.
  • Neck: If a chart indicates neck measurements, start the tape measurer at the center of a collared shirt at a button and bring it around the neck to the buttonhole.
  • Arm: Measuring from where your clavicle meets your shoulder down to your wrist bone will help you find your sleeve length. However, most jerseys are short sleeve, so adjust from the wrist to wherever you would want the sleeve to lay.

When searching for the right men’s NFL jersey size, it’s wise to be conscious of how you will be wearing it. If you plan on wearing your jersey around the house for the game day, you’ll likely want to choose a jersey that’s more fitted to your body. But if you plan on wearing it during a tailgate where you’ll be layering your outfit with shirts and sweatshirts, you may want to order a size or two up to ensure comfort.

While measurements are often precise to one size, you may get measurements between two sizes. If this is the case, simply choose the smaller one for a tighter fit or the larger one for a looser fit.

Nike NFL Jersey Stats

In 2012, when Nike first took over as the NFL’s official jersey manufacturer, they sold about $150 million worth of jerseys to the public. Throughout each year, sales continue to increase and often spike during the famous Super Bowl.

Buying Women's NFL Jerseys

The question, “What NFL jersey size am I,” is something every football fan asks when searching for the best team jersey. While men’s NFL uniforms have been around since the beginning, it used to be difficult to find women football jerseys. But nowadays, they are becoming more and more popular, and are even tailored to each body.

Compared to men’s jerseys, women’s NFL jerseys have a tapered cut to fit your shape. Instead of wearing a male uniform that can appear large and bulky on a woman, you can choose one with slender cuts — the opposite of a boxy jersey.

Women’s NFL jerseys also come in more feminine colors such as pink and other lighter colors. This allows you to still represent your team and favorite player, but with a feminine twist. Although your selection may be a bit more limited, the best players are typically available for you to support.

Like men’s jerseys, women’s need measurements of the chest or bust, waist and hips as well as the back length of the shirt. Take a look at the following measurement areas to help you figure out the best size:

  • Chest: Raise your arms away from your body and have someone measure the largest part of your bust all the way around. If you are wearing thicker material, remove the garment for better readings. If you plan on wearing a certain undergarment, make sure to wear it during measurements.
  • Waist: Stand straight with your feet together. Wrap the measuring tape around the smallest part of your waist and record your number.
  • Hips: Making sure you have proper posture, measure the widest portion of your hips.
  • Front and back length: Front and back length indicate how long the jersey will be in each respective area.
  • Neck: Some charts show neck measurements. You can place the tape measurer in the middle of a collared shirt at a button and bring it around the neck to the buttonhole.
  • Arm: From where your clavicle meets your shoulder down to your where you want your sleeve to lay will show your sleeve length.

Choosing NFL Jersey Size

Whether you plan on wearing your jersey around the house or putting it on for daily wear, make sure you buy one true to size. You will feel most comfortable in one that fits well, and it will give you a great shape. However, if you plan on tailgating or layering your jersey with warmer clothes, order one or two sizes larger so that you won’t feel constricted. If you like your jerseys to fit a bit looser, you can go a size up as well.

Buying Youth NFL Jerseys

If you are a parent, friend or family member looking to buy a youth NFL jersey, the process again comes back to measurements. If you’re thinking about buying NFL jerseys for a little one in your life, you'll have a smaller selection of players to choose from, but you'll also find that youth sizes are cheaper. They're less expensive because the jerseys don’t require as much fabric, detailing or labor compared to men’s shirts.

When your tiny football fan needs a new jersey for watching Sunday night games at home, or they want it so that they can support their favorite team at school, you can find them the right size when you adhere to the following guidelines.

Youth NFL Jersey Sizing

Youth Nike NFL jerseys measure the chest, waist and hips along with the length of the shirt. They range from youth small to extra-large and are available in boys and girls sizes. Depending on the chart you use, you can measure either their chest and waist or chest and hips. Here are the details that will help you complete accurate measurements:

  • Chest: Remove any bulky sweatshirts or other clothing before measuring the chest. Make sure the measuring tape is under their arms and wrapped all the way around the largest area of their chest.
  • Waist: Have the child stand straight with their feet together, and measure the smallest portion of their waist. Any extra fabric can make a difference in the number you get, so make sure to remove the garment or pull tight on the tape.
  • Hips: Measure their hips at the widest area as they stand with correct posture.
  • Front and back length: Front and back length indicate how long the jersey will be in each respective area.

Most kids don't like running around in baggy jerseys and clothing that barely fits any more than we do, so make sure you get the right sizes for each individual youth jersey. As long as you take the correct measurements, you'll be able to get the perfect jersey for everyone in the family. Your kids may be small, but their support for their ultimate NFL team doesn’t have to be. They can sport their jerseys no matter the occasion so that they feel a part of the action too.

Taking Care of Your NFL Jersey

You’ve spent a significant amount of time deciding which type of jersey to buy and invested a decent amount of money in an authentic uniform. You want it to last a lifetime and come out of each wash cycle as crisp as the day you bought it. But after the game last Sunday, you may have been sweating as much as the players, and perhaps even spilled beer or condiments on your favorite jersey.

Taking care of your NFL jersey is simple but does require special attention. Because most uniforms are made of polyester, the material itself is easy to clean; however, the when the player names, numbers, patches and symbols that come into the picture, it adds extra elements to consider.

The first step is to read the care label. It will state the temperature of the water you should use along with other details. You should also pre-treat stains before putting your shirt through the wash, and clean it as soon as possible.

Top tips for washing your NFL jersey include putting it through the gentle cycle, hand washing it, or simply taking it to a dry cleaner. If you choose to wash your jersey in the washing machine, don’t include jeans or any other additional clothes besides other jerseys. Wash dark colors with darks, lights with lights and whites alone.

Washing NFL Jersey

One of the most vital steps to remember is to turn your NFL jersey inside out to protect the letters and numbers from abrasion. Make sure to clean it with cold water because hot can cause letter damage as well as fading and shrinking.

If you choose to hand wash your uniform, use non-abrasive and color-fast detergent, and follow these steps:

  1. Fill a large sink or tub with cold water.
  2. Add the right amount of detergent.
  3. Turn the jersey inside out.
  4. Place the jersey in the sudsy water, and hand wash it right away.
  5. Empty the sink of soapy water.
  6. Rinse the jersey with cold water.
  7. Use the same steps to wash it a second time if stains remain.
  8. Turn it right side out so that the letters don’t stick.
  9. Line dry it in a non-humid area.

No matter which style of washing you choose, never set your jerseys in a dryer. Dryers can damage numbers, symbols and letters, so make sure to always hang dry your uniforms. Also avoid ironing, as the high temperatures can burn holes through the jersey’s material. If you are unable to wash your jersey, you can take it to the dry cleaner.

NFL Jerseys at SV Sports

SV Sports carries brands like Nike, Mitchell and Ness and Dallas Cowboys Merchandising that help when you’re searching for the perfect jersey. Although most of our products must be ordered over the phone, there are some great ones that you can order directly online.

Check out our NFL jerseys, and buy one today to support your favorite team. You can also use our store locator feature to find the nearest SV Sports to your location. Contact us with further questions or concerns about our NFL jersey collection so that you can start supporting your team in style!

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