The Quest for the Perfect Jersey

Since graduating college I haven’t been much on buying athletic jerseys. I always loved them as a kid, wearing them during baseball games or tossing around a football in the backyard with my dad pretending that I was Jeff Blake throwing the spiral. Of course years later I would realize that Shake n’ Blake was irrefutably one of the worst quarterbacks to step onto a football field but at the time he was a god to me. Recently, though, I haven’t been interested in buying player jerseys.

In fact I haven’t bought one since 2008 when I was playing hockey multiple times a week. Back then I was a member of two teams in addition to playing pick-up hockey on weeknights. So I got a ton use out of my multiple Detroit Red Wings (Go Wings!) jerseys as well as others from around the league. The last jersey I ever bought was an old Phoenix Coyotes design simply because I loved the color schemes. Also the new design looks like ass but that’s a discussion for another day and a WAY different blog.

Maybe it’s a factor of growing up and realizing that it’s getting more and more socially unacceptable to dress in a player’s jersey the older I get. Perhaps now that I’m actually earning my own paycheck and have budgetary constraints like most post-college people my age, it’s fiscally irresponsible to shell out over $100, sometimes, for a piece of clothing that I’d wear MAYBE a dozen times a year. Those are the kinds of questions I ask myself whenever I even think about purchasing a Johnny Cueto or Joey Votto replica.

But this time I just had to pull the trigger on one. I had to ignore my recently developed stinginess and just do it. So below is a story about my quest to own the best jersey ever.. ever.

When the Cincinnati Bearcats stepped onto the field against the Louisville Cardinals in mid-October of 2010 they donned new uniforms for the first time since Brian Kelly’s second season as UC’s head coach. And boy were they stunning. Crisp new lettering, new embroidering, and numbers on the shoulders. To me they are the best looking uniforms in college football with the perfect mix of black, red, and white depending on the variation. When the Bearcats rolled out the red unis the following week I liked them even more and when the featured the black ones against Syracuse the next game I immediately scoured the internet to track one down.

But there was nothing out there.

To be honest I wasn’t too surprised. Usually there is a few-month lag between when a new team jersey is revealed and when they show up on store racks. And it’s even slower in Cincinnati where things tend to happen at a snail’s pace compared to everywhere else. So I tempered my excitement and decided to wait until after the season to pick up my search. When I restarted it the following Spring the best I could find was a youth Zach Collaros #12 jersey as well as a women’s version. That’s a step in the right direction but definitely not for me. I mean.. I’m not 10 and I’m not a chick. 6’0″ 200 lbs men don’t fit too well into clothes designed for those people. But that’s my crux to bear not yours.

It seemed for the moment like my quest had once again hit a snag. I was thiiis close but yet still so far away from my goal. Then in the middle of the 2011 season a men’s Zach Collaros #12 jersey finally appeared in stores all over the Internet. It was pretty good but not quite what I wanted. You see, I like Collaros and he’s definitely one of my favorite Bearcats of all time but I’m not going to wear his jersey. And, like I said, I’m not shelling out a C-note or more for one. The jersey I was looking for Isaiah Pead’s. He’s kinda, sorta my favorite player to ever step onto Carson Field:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HrzIRGwiA2Q] 

And if you did a quick YouTube search you’ll see that others think he’s a big deal, too. So I started asking myself, why did UC elect to market Zach Collaros’ jersey but not Isaiah Pead’s? It’s nothing against Collaros but why wouldn’t they release both jerseys? Everybody who’s anybody who follows the Bearcats knows Isaiah Pead is a star and as big of an influence on this football program as #12.

It didn’t make any sense and as the exciting 2011 came to a close it became obvious that UC wasn’t going to release one. I mean why would they? Pead was moving on to the NFL and Butch Jones had already given his number away to incoming freshman Tion Green. I had to take matters into my own hands.

So I sought out the help of Cincinnati-based Koch Sporting Goods. I got a good tip that they did some great work and gave them a call. They were extremely helpful and seemed to know exactly what I was looking for; the exact Zach Collaros jersey with the new embroidering but with 23’s where the 12’s were and ‘Pead’ sewn on the back. I made that phone call 3 weeks ago and this past Wednesday a package arrived. The contents were phenomenal:

Exactly what I asked for in a timely manner and at a price that broke the bank. Needless to say I am super impressed with the job Koch Sports did. I’ve been wearing this beauty for a good portion of the last two days whenever I’m not at work, my fiance be damned. In fact I’m wearing it right now. And I’ll probably be wearing it for most this season whenever I have a chance representing my favorite UC player here in Chicago.

Go Bearcats!

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Tags: Bearcats Isaiah Pead

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