Reebok signed a $250 million deal to be the distributor of all NFL apparel back in 2000. That agreement is about to run out in April and Reebok will be handing over the tailoring duties to another sportswear giant, Nike, which signed its deal with the National Football League back in 2010.
The New York Times reported when the Nike deal was struck that “nearly half of the NFL’s income from licensed goods comes from apparel and headwear,” according to Ira Mayer, the editor of The Licensing Letter. The rest of it came from “video games, trading cards, and novelty goods”
Nike Brand President Charlie Denson told CNBC at the time that the company would be “changing the NFL jersey dramatically,” which left some wondering, such as the armchair quarterbacks at Pro Football Talk, just what was going to happen to NFL jerseys under the Nike Pro Combat "system of dress."
“Logos are controlled by teams and the NFL,” league spokesman Brian McCarthy told PFT. “That will not change. Teams have to apply to league to make changes to logos and colors. We anticipate new uniform technology (i.e., performance-driven, lighter materials). That’s what Nike’s Denson was referring to in his interview in 2010 regarding changes.”
There is at least one team that will be considering a uniform change, though: the Seattle Seahawks. Team president Peter McLoughlin told Seattle sports radio KJR before last season started that the team wouldn’t have new uniforms for the 2011, but 2012 might be a different story, according to PFT.
“Starting in 2012, we’re going to be going with a Nike jersey and a Nike design,” McLaughlin said. “So we’ve actually met with Nike, and I think we were the first NFL team to meet with them, and we had a fascinating session with them. … We’re looking at all kinds of new designs, and new kinds of jerseys, and we’re talking about a throwback for sure. So there’s a lot of creative stuff in the works right now.
Another looming change for NFL jerseys, PFT reports, is for players who wish to change their numbers. It used to be that players would need to go through an approval process with the team and league and then buy back unsold jerseys with their number on it from stores. The new deal eliminates that final step.