Paul here, making a rare Sunday appearance because something potentially big appears to be brewing in the NFL.
Now, we know that the Broncos, Texans, and Lions are planning new uniforms for 2024. We also know there are unverified claims about the Seahawks getting a makeover, although I remain skeptical of that.
But what about the Jets?
As you’ll recall, the Jets began wearing their current arena-esque uni set in 2019. That means they’ve now worn them for five seasons and are eligible for a much-needed redesign if they so choose. Until a few days ago, I hadn’t heard any rumblings about that happening, but a lot of chatter and unconfirmed reports have developed in the last few days about the Jets supposedly promoting their “Sack Exchange” throwbacks to primary status next season (which, if true, would obviously be a huge upgrade).
This chatter began on Thursday and Friday, when fans started noticing that Jets jerseys are on clearance at the NFL’s online shop. Or, rather, most Jets jerseys are on clearance — the throwbacks are still full price. That’s what a team would do if it was planning to scrap its primary uniforms and keep its throwbacks.
Now, you might be thinking, “What about the other teams that are getting new uniforms for 2024?” Excellent question! Let’s go one team at a time (I’m including the Seahawks here, even though we don’t actually know whether they’re getting new uniforms):
- Broncos: Their jerseys are on clearance. That makes sense, because all that inventory will be obsolete in a few months.
- Lions: Their jerseys are not on clearance. But that also makes sense, because they’re still active in the postseason. Basically, it’s too early to apply this merch test to them.
- Texans: As of this morning, their jerseys are not on clearance. But they were only eliminated from the postseason last night, so it’ll be interesting to see if their jerseys are marked down in the next day or two.
- Seahawks: Their jerseys are not on clearance, but all we had for them was a sketchy Reddit post. If anything, their jerseys being full price just makes me even more skeptical about that Reddit claim.
Getting back to the Jets: As fans on social media began noticing the price cuts on Jets jerseys, a guy named Jake Asman weighed in with this on Friday afternoon:
I’ve been told by several people that the #Jets are going to make the legacy jerseys permanent this offseason now that the 5 year rule is up. Plus, Chris Johnson told @Bklyn929 at the HOF ceremony last summer that this was the plan too.
It’s a done deal. ✅ https://t.co/WRv05sbNvX
— Jake Asman (@JakeAsman) January 19, 2024
Just to decode that tweet a bit:
- Asman is a host on ESPN’s New York-based radio station, which is the Jets’ flagship radio station. He also has a popular YouTube channel where he hosts a daily Jets show.
- Chris Johnson is co-owner of the Jets. (His brother Woody Johnson tends to get more media exposure.)
- @Bklyn929 is one of two Jets fans who run an online fan space called the Jets Lounge.
- The Jets played in the 2023 Hall of Fame Game last August, plus former Jet Darrelle Revis was getting inducted, so Jets execs and lots of Jets fans were there in Canton.
After Asman tweeted about Chris Johnson telling @Bklyn929 about the upcoming uniform changes, @Bklyn929 confirmed the story:
Yes sir @JakeAsman Heard it from both in person. Chris actually said I know don’t blame me for them! “I get a lot of crap about them” wasn’t me. Woody said “I am the lord of uniform updates”. As we left.. Don’t worry you will like them was uttered. #TakeFlight https://t.co/ltDLZECN6Z
— Sack Exchange (@Bklyn929) January 19, 2024
Now let’s decode that one. What @Bklyn929 appears to be saying there, in Twitter-ese, is this:
Yes sir, Jake Asman, I heard it in person at the Hall of Fame last summer from both Chris Johnson and Woody Johnson. Chris Johnson actually said, “I know the current uniforms suck, but don’t blame me for them. I get a lot of crap about them, but they weren’t my fault.” And Woody said, as we left, “I am the lord of uniform updates. Don’t worry, you will like the new look.”
Yesterday I reached out to both Asman and @Bklyn929. I heard back first from Asman, who was happy to talk with me. Here’s a transcript of the phone conversation we had, edited for length and clarity:
Uni Watch: In your tweet yesterday, you said several people told you that the legacy uniforms would be made permanent for next season. Just to clarify, when you say they’ll be “made permanent,” do you mean they’ll be re designated as the team’s primary uniforms?
Jake Asman [shown at right]: Yeah, so my understanding on it is that the current jerseys they have now will not be active for next season. I was told since last summer by a couple of people that the Jets have wanted to change the current jerseys and that they want the throwback that they introduced this year to become their new primary jerseys. They’ll add a Kelly green jersey to complement the white ones that they already introduced.
UW: The people who told you that, are they people with direct knowledge of it, or did they just hear it from someone else?
JA: I was told by a couple people. One is actually a team employee who told me last year that they were going to have the legacy jerseys introduced as a throwback [for 2023]. He was right about that, so I figure he’s right about this as well.
UW: If you heard about all this last summer, or over the course of however many months it’s been since then, why didn’t you speak up then? And what led you to speak up yesterday?
JA: I’ve actually spoken up a lot! I’ve said it on my YouTube show lots of times, that the Jets’ plan is to make the legacy jerseys their new permanent uniforms, and then they’ll add a green one to it. I just never tweeted it until now. But when I saw the jerseys were priced at half off, I’m like, “That kind of backs up everything I’ve heard, so I’ll put that out there.”
If you actually go back to when they introduced the legacy jerseys last year, the catchphrase on their website was “Rep What’s Next,” which seemingly implies that this is what’s coming next — like, they already had this plan in place. And that matches up with what the owner, Christopher Johnson, said to my buddy at the Hall of Fame ceremony last year.
UW: You’re referring to the guy you tagged in your tweet, @Bklyn929, right?
JA: Correct. I was standing right next to him when he spoke to Christopher and Woody Johnson. I didn’t actually hear the conversation, but I definitely saw him talking to them, and then he told me what they said, which is basically that they’re going to make the legacy design permanent.
UW: As you mentioned, if this happens, they’d have to add a green jersey to the mix. Do you know if they also have any plans to add a black alternate version with that same basic design?
JA: I have not heard anything about that. All I was told was that the current jerseys are gone and that they’ll introduce a green one to complement the current white legacy.
So that’s Jake Asman. Shortly after I spoke with him, I got a call from @Bklyn929, whose real name is Steven Berkowitz. Here’s a transcript of our call, edited for length and clarity:
Uni Watch: Could you tell me what happened in Canton last summer, and how you found yourself talking to Chris Johnson and Woody Johnson?
Steven Berkowitz [shown at right]: Me and some other friends, including Joe Benigno [a longtime NYC radio personality and big Jets fan], we all drove out together to Canton. Revis was about to get inducted, and Joe and I walked through this one entrance, and there’s Chris Johnson and Woody Johnson with a couple of security guys.
UW: So you basically just bumped into them?
SB: Correct. So Joe introduces himself to Woody, but Woody knew who he was. Meanwhile, I’m talking to Chris. Now, I think the current uniforms are disgusting — it’s like a high school uniform or something. So I’m thinking, I’m never gonna get this opportunity again to voice my displeasure for these uniforms to the owner. So I point to someone standing near us who’s wearing one of the current jerseys, and I say, “Hey, Chris, these uniforms — these are not good.”
And he says, and I quote, “Yeah, I know, I get a lot of blame for these.” So he clearly knew the current uniforms were a mistake. He says, “It wasn’t me. I didn’t make that decision.” And then Woody kind of jumps in, sort of defending his brother, and he says, “I’m the lord of the uniform updates.” So Woody is basically saying, “If you’re gonna blame anybody, blame me.”
So then I look at both of them, and I say, “Well, guys, the five-year rule is up, and people love these,” and I’m pointing to the Gastineau throwback that I’m wearing. And they were like, “We know, we know, we know that.” And then they smile and Woody says, “Don’t worry, don’t worry, you’re gonna like ’em.”
So they didn’t specifically say the throwback will be permanent. But they pretty much acknowledged that the current ones are bad, that the throwbacks are better, that the five-year rule is up, and “You’re gonna like ’em.” That pretty much confirmed it for me.
And I’ve made it clear on Twitter, I said listen, they didn’t confirm legacy as the permanent. But they definitely confirmed that there will be a change, and they liked the legacy.
And there you have it. While none of this proves anything conclusively, it certainly provides a lot more context.
Speaking of which: A bunch of Jets blogs have run with these rumors, but not a single one of them bothered to track down Asman or Berkowitz for an interview (just like nobody else bothered to interview the guy behind the Broncos rumors). I’d like to think this is part of what sets Uni Watch apart — we actually do additional reporting and analysis, instead of just stirring the rumor pot.
As for the Jets, I hope all of this turns out to be true, because their current set is an embarrassment. The one thing that doesn’t quite add up for me is that the Jets’ throwbacks, true to their original era, don’t have the team name or city name on the chest. I find it hard to imagine the Jets — or most NFL teams, for that matter — making a uni change that didn’t involve a chest wordmark or patch, but stranger things have happened.
Meanwhile, if anyone knows more, feel free to contact me here. Thanks.
• • • • •
Phil will have at least one article later this morning, so come back for that, and then I’ll see you back here tomorrow. Enjoy your Sunday! — Paul