If they want to swap jerseys this season, NFL players will first have to exchange addresses after the league announced on Monday it is partnering with Tide Laundry Detergent and Fabric Care Products to facilitate such trades.
While the postgame jersey swap is a soccer tradition that originated in Europe almost 90 years ago, it has become increasingly popular in North American sports in recent years. This season, however, the NFL has banned the on-field exchange in the interest of social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic.
Players were not pleased with this development, with San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman among the most vocal opponents of the new return-to-play guidelines.
“This is a perfect example of NFL thinking in a nutshell,” Sherman said on Twitter back in July. “Players can go engage in a full-contact game and do it safely. However, it is deemed unsafe for them to exchange jerseys after said game.”
It would seem Monday’s announcement is a compromise of sorts, as players can now send their jerseys via mail to someone on the other team. The player must inform their team’s equipment manger(s), who will then remove the contact tracing device from the jersey, clean it and ship it to the opposing team’s headquarters.
Surely players would prefer the game-worn jerseys include dirt, grass and other stains, but having them cleaned is still better than nothing.
Furthermore, Tide will cover the cost of one replacement jersey per player this season, as they are typically charged upward of $500 for each swap. That does not include games that are part of the NFL’s “Crucial Catch” or “Salute to Service” games, though, since the league auctions those for cancer and military fundraisers.
Photos courtesy of the Kansas City Chiefs.