You don’t have to be a genius to know that in the world of professional sports, talent on the field usually equates to popularity off it. The more a player dominates the rest of the competition, the more likely fans will go out of their way to associate with said player. In the National Football League, this tends to mean one thing: jersey sales.
If you’re a premier player in the NFL, then there’s a good chance the fans — particularly those who truly love their hometown team — will spend big bucks on your top. The fact is, love means loyalty, and loyalty means merchandise sales. Welcome to “Sports Commerce 101.” Of course, as you might expect, some players are more popular than others. If we happen to go by jersey sales, then we know which ones stand out among the rest.
According to the numbers on NFLShop.com, the NFL’s official online site, these 10 players generated the highest-selling jerseys in the NFL in 2016.
10. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers
The Green Bay Packers are never out of it with Aaron Rodgers under center. After a slow start to his 2016 campaign, the two-time MVP has been nothing short of spectacular over the final few weeks of the season. This year, Rodgers is completing 65.5% of his passes and throwing for 4,128 yards, a league-leading 36 touchdown passes, and just seven interceptions. At this rate, it wouldn’t surprise us if the whole state of Wisconsin owned a No. 12 jersey.
9. Derek Carr, QB, Oakland Raiders
Derek Carr’s season may have been cut short because of a broken fibula, but that doesn’t diminish what he accomplished in 2016. The Raiders quarterback joined his second consecutive Pro Bowl team. He dazzled football fans with his 28-to-6 touchdown-to-interception ratio and fourth-quarter heroics. And he led Oakland to a 12-3 record and an AFC West crown. It’s a shame we won’t get to see what Carr might could’ve done in the postseason. Then again, there’s always 2017 and beyond.
8. Odell Beckham Jr., WR, New York Giants
His antics may make it difficult to build a team around him, but there’s no denying that Odell Beckham Jr. is one of the most talented wide receivers in the NFL. After wowing fans with 96 catches, 1,450 receiving yards, and 13 touchdowns in 2015, the New York Giants wideout took his game to new heights in his third NFL season.
Through the first 16 weeks of 2016, OBJ has 96 receptions, 1,323 receiving yards, and 10 touchdown receptions. If Beckham continues performing at this level, it’s only a matter of time before his fans push him to the top of this list.
7. Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
When it comes to Antonio Brown, business is always booming. The All-Pro wideout leads the NFL with 106 catches; he has amassed 1,284 receiving yards and 12 touchdown receptions; and he recently joined his third consecutive Pro Bowl team. Thanks to Brown’s speed, style, and big-play ability, his jersey will always be a hot commodity.
6. Von Miller, LB, Denver Broncos
The Denver Broncos won’t get the chance to defend their Super Bowl crown, but it’s hard to pin the blame on linebacker Von Miller. In 15 games this season, he’s amassed 73 combined tackles, forced two fumbles, and generated 13.5 sacks. Not only is Miller one of the best players in the game today, but based on his jersey sales, he’s clearly among the most popular.
5. Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots
After suffering a season-ending back injury, it’s safe to assume Rob Gronkowski wishes he could have a do-over in 2016. Still, that doesn’t change the fact the Patriots tight end, when healthy, is one of the most dominant players in the NFL. As long as Gronk continues to spike the pigskin at will, while entertaining fans with his one-of-a-kind personality, his jersey will remain a top seller.
4. Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots
Tom Brady is the face of the New England Patriots and quite possibly the greatest quarterback in NFL history. All he’s done since returning from his four-game suspension is remind everyone of this. In 11 games this season, Gisele’s husband has completed 66.7% of his passes; he has thrown for 3,278 yards, 25 touchdowns and two interceptions; and he looks determined to add more individual hardware to his trophy case. It’s safe to say that “No. 12” isn’t going out of style anytime soon
3. Carson Wentz, QB, Philadelphia Eagles
Many scoffed — not us — when the Philadelphia Eagles traded away a boatload of picks to move up to the No. 2 spot in the 2016 draft in order to select a quarterback from North Dakota State. Looks like the joke’s on them. While Carson Wentz hasn’t been perfect in his rookie season, he continues to command the offense like a seasoned veteran. Thanks to his undeniable skill-set, he has the Philly faithful feeling good about the franchise’s future. The Wentz wagon has officially left the station; hurry up, you don’t want to miss it.
2. Dak Prescott, QB, Dallas Cowboys
A team did not select quarterback Dak Prescott until the fourth round of the 2016 draft, but he’s a major reason why the Dallas Cowboys are the team to beat in the NFC. The Mississippi State signal caller has a 13-2 record as a starter, is completing 68.1% of his passes and has thrown for 3,630 yards, 23 touchdowns, and four interceptions (while rushing for another six scores).
Most importantly, Prescott has led the Cowboys to an NFC crown and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. As crazy as it sounds, there is no quarterback controversy in the Big D; Tony Romo is out, and the rookie is in. Don’t expect that to change anytime soon.
1. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys
Ezekiel Elliott may be a rookie, but luckily for the Dallas Cowboys, he does not play like one. The former Ohio State standout is averaging 108.7 rushing yards per game (tops in the NFL), leads the league in rushing with 1,631 yards on the ground, and has 15 rushing touchdowns. Zeke’s a legitimate MVP candidate and one of the most exciting young players in the game today. If you planned on buying a No. 21 Cowboys jersey, we suggest you hurry. From the looks of it, there might not be many left in stock.