"Sorry, You Just Missed Your Chance To Buy A ‘Ron Mexico’ NFL Jersey"
CREDIT: Nick Baumann
If you needed something else to blame on Anthony Weiner, he’s now the reason you can’t order customized Ron Mexico football jerseys from the NFL’s online store.
Last week’s news that Weiner used the alias “Carlos Danger” to send pictures of his junk (again) to women on the internet prompted Mother Jones editor Nick Baumann to wonder how long it would be before the NFL banned fans from customizing New York Giants jerseys with the alias on the back. It was a reference to the NFL’s 2005 decision to ban “Ron Mexico” customized jerseys after the world learned of the alias then-Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick used to get treatment for sexually transmitted diseases.
After Baumann’s tweet, I checked to see if that ban still existed. It didn’t appear to, since NFLShop.com let me proceed all the way through to checkout with Ron Mexico printed on both Atlanta and Philadelphia jerseys, the two Vick has worn during his career. After some deliberation, Baumann went all the way and ordered one (on a Patriots jersey). The NFL sent it to him, and Tuesday, he wore it to MoJo’s office.
There won’t be a rash of Ron Mexico jerseys flooding stadiums this fall, though. An NFL spokesperson told me Wednesday that Baumann only got the jersey because of a computer glitch that occurred when NFLShop.com switched vendors in July 2012. “During the process some of our prohibited words for customized product did not upload properly,” Joanna Hunter, the spokesperson, said in an email. “They are fixing that so going forward you can no longer customize products with those words.”
It’s no secret why the league runs a tight ship on customized jerseys. The NFL is an $9 billion industry, and its jerseys and players are its most identifiable brands. Preventing fans from buying the jerseys of accused murderers like Aaron Hernandez, whose jersey the league quit selling in June, or customizing jerseys with mocking names or obscenities is nothing more than brand protection. It’s already easy enough to associate NFL players with crimes or other problems. Allowing their jerseys to become billboards for players accused of committing murder or spreading herpes would only make that worse.
If you’re disappointed that you can’t mock Mike Vick, though, don’t fret: the NFL apparently hasn’t gotten around to banning Carlos Danger jerseys. Yet.