NFL

Jerseys are cool, but you'd better pick the right one

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Peter Schrager

Peter Schrager is the Senior NFL Writer for FOXSports.com and the national sports correspondent for FOX News Channel's "FOX Report Weekend." He's the co-author of Victor Cruz's New York Times' best-selling memoir "Out of the Blue" and lives in New York. Feel free to e-mail him at peterschrager@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter.

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Is it acceptable for a grown man to wear a football jersey in public? This was the topic of a heated debate my buddy Noah and I engaged in last week.

It started when we saw a gentleman — likely in his mid to late-thirties — on what appeared to be a date with an attractive young lady at an upscale Manhattan restaurant. He wasn’t wearing his best button-down shirt and a pair of slacks.

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No, he was wearing a Mark Sanchez jersey and mesh shorts. Fashion faux pas? A violation of some unwritten "Man Code?" Or is a Sanchez jersey and a pair of Umbro shorts now appropriate attire for a night out on the town?

After a few days of bickering back and forth (I said “Sure, why not?;” Noah said “Football jerseys are for teenage girls and music videos”), we came to an agreement that there’s a time and place for the everyday civilian and the football jersey.

Some rules:

· If you’re going to a game, a parking lot tailgate, a sports bar, or a fantasy draft, then yes, a football jersey is OK. (This wasn’t always a given. Go look at any baseball footage from the 1950s. Men wore three piece suits and hats on summer days to watch baseball.)

· If you’re going to work, a restaurant that doesn’t have potato skins on the menu, or a place of worship, then no, football jerseys aren’t permitted.

· You can never — ever — wear a customized football jersey with your own last name on the back.

· Don’t show up to a game wearing his and her jerseys of the same player. It’s weird.

Waraire Boswell, a fashion designer who’s outfitted everyone from Chris Bosh at the ESPYs to Blake Griffin at the 2009 NBA Draft, weighed in on the debate, advising, “It's acceptable for grown men to show support and wear the jersey of the player they most admire. When doing so, though, it would be best to wear a size most appealing to your body type, not the oversize nightgown.”

Boswell adds, “It's never cool to wear sports apparel to work. Never. The only time I would even consider sports apparel as acceptable attire in the workplace is if your boss is a fanatic, you are self employed and/or your team is having a championship parade.”

Picking the right player’s football jersey is important, too. Andy Hyman of the popular throwback fashion line Original Retro Brand notes that there are just four football jerseys that are forever timeless. Consider these the Mount Rushmore of NFL jerseys: “Namath’s No. 12 white 1969 Jets; Unitas’ No. 19 blue 1958 Colts; Butkus, any color, any year. And then there’s Jim Brown’s white No. 32, 1964.

You can wear those anywhere, anytime, in any setting, and you’re good in my book,” says Hyman.

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If you do (italics) opt to wear a current player’s jersey to a game, you’re going to want to put some thought into it. There’s nothing hip or unique about being just another schlub stuck in traffic trekking down the Jersey Turnpike in an Eli Manning jersey on Sunday afternoon.

And heaven forbid you’re caught wearing the jersey of a player no longer with the squad. Want to sport that McNabb jersey at the Linc? Go for it. See how that works out for you. Lawrence Phillips Rams jerseys, Joey Harrington Lions jerseys and Quincy Carter Cowboy tops will get beers spilled on you; not high fives and fist pumps.

So, which players should you go for in 2010? If the most popular and highest-selling jerseys aren’t going to set you apart from the crowd, you better get a young, up-and-coming player. For an NFL fan spending $90 on a jersey, getting that nod of acknowledgement or a “nice jersey!” at the stadium from a stranger is the ultimate high. It’s the NFL fan’s version of a gutsy special teams tackle.

Go on NFLShop.com, get a Dexter McCluster Chiefs jersey and wear it to Arrowhead for Week 1’s Monday night clash with the Chargers. Sport a Deshon Goldson top to a Niners bar like Danny Coyle’s or Pete’s Tavern. Hell, go crazy — ignore Ochocinco, T.O. and Antonio Bryant and wear a Jordan Shipley jersey on opening day. Go crazy, folks. As they say in the fashion world, “Do you."

Just don’t do that XXL Mark Sanchez jersey and a pair of mesh shorts to a five star restaurant. That's not "doing you," and it's certainly not going to lead to you "doing" anything else.

Tagged: Mark Sanchez, Jets

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