DENVER (CBS4) – The Broncos are on a tear this season, and consumer interest in official NFL team jerseys is skyrocketing.
A CBS4 investigation has found that it’s easy to bypass the team store at Sports Authority Field at Mile High and get a much cheaper jersey at a flea market, a street corner or online, but buyers should know just what they’re getting.
Officially licensed NFL jerseys run between $100 and $300 at authorized outlets. At a flea market in the Denver area an undercover CBS4 crew recently was able to pay $70 for two of what looked to be official jerseys from a vendor. Then CBS4 was able to bargain a different flea market seller down to $30 on another jersey.
The jerseys had the NFL logo on them, said they were manufactured by Nike, plus they had the hologram and tag that can be found on jerseys for sale at official team stores. They looked sharp.
CBS4 took them to a trained eye — Alan Fey, who oversees merchandising for the Broncos team store.
“My first impression is it does not look real, the colors are different,” Fey said. “The blocking doesn’t look right. … With this one, the coloring is off on the NFL shield.”
Fey said the jerseys are likely counterfeits, among the hundreds of thousands that are being made and are flooding the jersey market.
“A Nike jersey for $40 at the flea market? I know that is not an authorized retailer, I would say that it’s probably not legitimate,” he said.
CBS4 later sent photos of the holograms on the jerseys’ tags to NFL officials and they confirmed that they were “counterfeit.”
CBS4 also took the jerseys to John Brennan, who operates licensed NFL apparel seller The Sports Fan on Federal Boulevard.
He examined them and concluded they were all knockoffs. On one jersey he inspected he pointed out that the word “players” on the tag was misspelled.
Brennan says sales of fake gear hurts retailers like him.
“We could do almost double the business in jerseys if there weren’t counterfeits out there,” he said.
Brennan said the street corner sales “make his blood boil.” Brennan estimated that half of the Bronco jerseys purchased by fans are counterfeits.
“The guy is taking money out of our pockets literally by (selling lookalike jerseys),” he said.
Fey told CBS4 the high price consumers pay for official jerseys is worth it, since you can return them and you are guaranteed quality.
He says what you buy at the flea market or on the street could fade or fall apart during the first wash cycle, and likely can’t be returned.