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NFL Rookies to Wear New Jersey Patch in 2023

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When the NFL season kicks off tonight, some players will be wearing a new patch. That’s because the NFL yesterday announced a new uni-related program called NFL PREM1ERE, which calls for any rookie suiting up for his first NFL game to wear a jersey patch like the one shown above. Although the league’s press release does not specify where the patch will be positioned, I have confirmed that it will be worn on the chest.

Obviously, this program is very similar to, and was probably copycatted from inspired by, the MLB debut patches that big league rookies have been wearing this season (I can just imagine the meeting where the NFL people were saying, “Okay, what’s another word for ‘debut’?”). But there are two important differences:

  1. The MLB debut patch isn’t removed from the player’s jersey until after he appears in a game. So if a kid is called up and sits on the bench for a few games, he keeps wearing the patch until he actually makes his on-field debut. If he’s sent back down to the minors without having appeared in a game, he’ll wear the patch again the next time he’s called up. By contrast, the NFL patch will be worn for just one game — the first time the rookie suits up. Whether he scores four touchdowns or just stands on the sideline all game long, he will not wear the patch again after his first game on the active roster.
  2. As you may recall, MLB used the debut patches as a licensing/merch vehicle, with the patches being turned into “1 of 1” Topps relics. By contrast, the NFL will simply let the rookies keep their patch-clad jerseys after that first game — a nice memento of their first time suiting up as a pro.

Honestly, I think all these patches are pretty silly, but I give the NFL credit for not turning this into a licensing tail/dog situation. Much like the NFL’s status as the last ad-free uni holdout among the Big Four, the way they’re handling this new patch shows that they’re actually less despicable than the other leagues, at least on some levels.

We’ll get our first look at the patch-clad jerseys tonight. Do you think the NHL and/or NBA will announce something similar when their seasons start next month?

Meanwhile: I’ve added this news, along with some other late-breaking developments, to the NFL Season Preview, which is now approaching 7,000 words and is by far the most comprehensive guide to this season’s uni-related news. I hope you’ll check it out before watching tonight’s game!


Can of the Day

We all think of Bit o’ Honey as a candy, so it’s funny (at least to me) to see the name being used to sell asparagus!

Comments (22)

    “which calls for any rookie suiting up for his first NFL to wear a jersey patch like the one shown above.”

    Is that suiting up for his first NFL game or season?

    Paul, have you ever heard of the German rock band Can? They released an album in 1972 called Ege Bamyasi with album art you would appreciate. The music is great too.

    I think the misspelling of Premiere is kind of silly but it’s still a nice patch, especially since the players will be keeping the jersey. Do you think this is one-year thing or can we expect to see this every year? The NFL press release didn’t say. Do you happen to know the size of the patch?

    I don’t see any indication of this just being a one-year thing. If I had to guess, I’d anticipate both this and the MLB program continuing for several years and then being quietly abandoned.

    Don’t know the patch dimensions, but we’ll find out tonight!

    As Athletes are notoriously superstitious, if a rookie DOES score four touchdowns in his first game, would they be able to remove the patch and continue to wear their new “lucky jersey”?
    Either way, it was a cool revelation to see that the players get to keep the jersey and patch, not to have it sold off to the highest bidder.
    And I’m not a Betting Man, but even I would wager that if the NBA or NHL comes out with a patch, it will have a “corporate sponsor” on there too.

    Maybe the NFL can make rookies wear a yellow stripe somewhere on the jersey to make it like NASCAR’s rookie-identifying bumper stripe. Let those veterans on the field know when they are up against a rook.

    I think the distinction between first game and first appearance is pretty meaningless in the NFL, as nearly every player on the active game-day roster except the backup quarterback generally gets at least one snap.

    Maybe I’m just not with the kids these days, but substituting a “1” for the “I” just looks out-of-place to me on that patch. I suppose that’s what passes for fun these days.

    NBA will not copy this as they have so many players coming in and leaving during the season, also on the rookie level with signings from abroad. The NBA draft is just the starting point for a whole season of trading and signing 10 day contracts. The NHL might do it but it a rookie patch will be less visible due to the speed of the game.

    All of the cans I feature, including this one, have the designs printed directly onto the metal. (Vintage cans with glued paper labels are fairly rare, because the labels tend not to survive very long.)

    Here’s the eBay listing, which has additional pics: link

    I figured you might like the brand name, Scott!

    For the asparagus I was thinking it might be a reference to Rogers Pass which leads from one part of the Columbia River Basin to another (and where I spent the weekend) but the spelling of ‘flavor’ is wrong.

    Allowing the player to keep the patched jersey is a nice touch, as they can make their choice to save it, sell it, auction it for charity, whatever.

    The NFL should have them wear a yellow sticker on their helmets (modeled after the new driver stickers) that read, “Please be patient. New player.”

    I love asparagus, I hate canned vegetables, and I can’t imagine a good tasting canned asparagus, even if it’s drowned in honey.

    Will they wear the New Jersey patch even if they aren’t from New Jersey?

    (sorry, I couldn’t resist. I’ll see myself out)

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