The Legend of “The Jersey”

A couple years ago, I was listening to a radio show, and they had a poll question which basically asked, “If someone offered you a thousand dollars for your favorite article of clothing would you take it or leave it?” At the time, this seemed like an absolutely absurd question. Of course I would take the money. Trust me when I say that there’s nothing in my closet that cost more than a thousand dollars. In fact, if you don’t include uniform items or running shoes, I can’t think of anything that cost me more than $50. Give me that grand, and I’ll buy myself a new pair of pants or whatever it is that I gave up.

Then, I actually thought about what my favorite piece of clothing is. My opinion quickly changed.

It’s no secret that I’m a huge Miami Dolphins fan (although they certainly haven’t made it easy on me in recent years). I don’t remember exactly when or how I became a fan, but there’s a picture of me about 4 years old with a Bob Greise doll. Growing up in North Dakota, there really aren’t any local teams to root for. The Vikings are the closest, but they never really appealed to me. Maybe I enjoyed watching games on TV that were warm and sunny while I was snowed into my house. Whatever the reason, I became a Dolphins fan very early in life. I’ve tried to break away a few times over the years, but I keep coming back to them like the fool that I am.

During my freshman year of high school, I went on a band trip to Hot Springs, South Dakota. Somewhere along the trip, we stopped at a shopping mall which is a pretty big treat when you live in a town with a population of about 300. I had some money saved up, so I decided to visit the sporting goods store to see if there was anything that I needed. What I found may have changed the world forever. (slight exaggeration)

Hanging on the shelf was a replica Dan Marino jersey. I immediately fell in love with it, so I eagerly forked over the money (I want to say it was about $45). The first time I tried it on, it became my favorite shirt. It just fit my incredibly skinny and unmasculine frame perfectly. I almost looked cool in it. As you’ve probably guess from the fact that I said “freshman” and “band trip,” I wasn’t exactly a trendsetter in high school. When I wore it to school, however, I started something. Within a couple weeks, all of the cool kids (basically, everyone except me) were wearing football jerseys. Did this make me cool? Of course not, but in my own mind I was…ok, still not very cool, but you get the idea.

Over the years, that jersey became a part of my life. I asked out my first real girlfriend while wearing it. If I remember correctly, I was also wearing it when she dumped me, but I’ve blocked out most of that day. I remember how devastated I was the first time that I pulled it out of the dryer and it had gotten too hot causing some of the lettering to stick together. As the years went by and the numbers started to fade, however, I realized that the defects were the things that made the jersey mine.

Fast forward to current day, and it’s still my favorite piece of clothing. It’s now old enough to vote, and despite the 50 pounds that I’ve gained since then, it still fits perfectly. You can tell that it’s a Marino jersey (it’s a Dolphins jersey from the early 90s, who else would it be?), but the numbers and lettering are completely gone. I still break it out occasionally for special occasions and to marvel at its awesomeness. It has become the rattiest piece of attire in our closet, but if someone were to walk up and offer me a grand for it, they would walk away empty handed. Maybe that radio poll wasn’t so ridiculous after all

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