Authentic NFL Jerseys: How to Spot a Fake from the Real Deal

Buying genuine NFL jerseys can be tricky, especially if you're trying to find a bargain. Chances are, you're going to find a lot of counterfeits.


Jesse Sumrak
Updated 19 May 2021
Authentic NFL Jerseys: How to Spot a Fake from the Real Deal

nflshop.com

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United States Counterfeit Goods Statistics


$1.3 billion in counterfeit items seized each year
$200 billion yearly loss to businesses

$959 billion (estimated value of the counterfeit market by 2022)

Source: Library of U.S. Congress

Sections on this page
  1. What Are Fake NFL Jerseys?
  2. Where Are Fake NFL Jerseys Sold?
  3. 6 Ways to Tell the Difference Between Fake and Authentic NFL Jerseys
  4. Online Listings for Fake Vs. Authentic NFL Jerseys
  5. What to Do If You Purchase a Fake NFL Jersey
  6. Where to Buy Authentic NFL Jerseys
  7. Frequently Asked Questions

If you're trying to save money on a new NFL jersey, you're not alone. With authentic NFL jerseys selling anywhere from $100 to $295, there's a large market for buyers looking for discounted options. However, unless you're buying from legitimate (and somewhat expensive) sites like NFLShop.com, you're going to have to question the authenticity of any jersey you purchase. Scammers have flooded e-commerce platforms with fraudulent listings and counterfeit NFL jerseys.

To ensure you're buying an authentic NFL jersey, you're going to need to learn how to spot the fakes from the real deal. 

What Are Fake NFL Jerseys?

First, it's important to note the different tiers of NFL jerseys. Legitimate replicas come in a variety of qualities and price points. There are currently four different types of game-day-ready NFL jerseys:

  • Nike Legend Jersey: Legend jerseys are the low-quality fan gear inspired by the team's jerseys. These are usually cheap and use lower-quality materials.
  • Nike Game Jersey: Game jerseys have a loose, relaxed fit, perfect for watching the big game from your couch. They feature breathable mesh side panels and screen-printed graphics (including the name and number). However, they don't use the same high-quality materials as the performance jerseys.
  • Nike Limited Jersey: Limited jerseys are high-end jerseys inspired by real-deal uniforms. They use high-quality materials, but they don't have every detail of the more expensive Elite jerseys.
  • Nike Elite Jersey: The most real-deal jerseys you can find without raiding the team's locker room. Nike Elite jerseys have authentic materials, ventilation, sewn-on twill letters and numbers, and every teeny-tiny detail of the official jerseys.

All of these jerseys are considered authentic—none of these are fakes.

Fake NFL jerseys are scammer-made clothing that mimics the style and details of any of these authentic NFL jerseys. They're often made with low-quality and non-durable materials but promise the performance and professionalism of original jerseys.

Fake NFL jerseys don't get all the details right. Often, they'll use the wrong shades of colors and even print the wrong player number on the back. In addition, these cheap jerseys usually have sizing issues, and some will fall apart after a single wash.

You'll find fake NFL jerseys selling for unbelievably low prices—if you think it's too good to be true, then it probably is. However, some fakes marketing themselves as authentic, high-quality jerseys will sell at higher prices to improve their legitimacy. Below, we'll help you spot the fakes and avoid certain sellers.

Where Are Fake NFL Jerseys Sold?

Scammers sell fake NFL jerseys all over the internet. Here are the most common places you'll find fakes:

Even honest, legitimate sellers can sell fake NFL jerseys. If they purchased the jersey online years ago, there's a chance they innocently bought a fake.

Regardless, if you're buying from your neighbor's garage sale or a stranger on Craigslist, the following investigative methods will help you spot the fakes from authentic NFL jerseys.

6 Ways to Tell the Difference Between Fake and Authentic NFL Jerseys

There are some tell-tale signs of fake NFL jerseys, so it’s essential to know what to look for when buying one online or in person. Pay special attention to the:

  • Letters and numbers
  • Clothing tags
  • Panel colors
  • Stitch and thread quality
  • Security label
  • Logos

1. Letters and Numbers

First, analyze the font. Then, look up the real-deal jersey on the team's website or NFLShop.com. If the font is off, then it's probably a fake.

Next, look at the quality of the letters and numbers. Fakes will often have folds and creases and low-quality material. However, this isn't always noticeable at first glance—often, you'll begin to see the folds and creases as the jersey goes through the wash.

Fakes also use a shiny, metallic-like material. Authentic NFL jerseys do not.

Real vs fake NFL jersey lettering

2. Tags

Brand-new jerseys will feature NFL tags and a Universal Product Code (UPC). The UPC tag will also include the sizing and retail price—fake jerseys will sometimes forget this detail.

Real NFL tags have a crisp NFL logo. You'll be able to make out the dark blue gradient across the logo, and it should have a slight sheen to it.

Real vs fake NFL jersey tag

3. Panel Colors

The mesh ventilation of an authentic NFL jersey will be the same base color as the rest of it. Since it's a different material, fakes cannot match up the panel colors to match the jersey exactly. If you notice discrepancies, it's not a team styling choice or a variant jersey—it's a fake.

Real vs fake NFL jersey color panels

4. Stitch and Thread Quality

Nike doesn't skimp when it comes to quality. They supply all NFL jerseys, and they're soon to supply the NBA jerseys, too. So if your jersey has apparent defects, loose stitching, or poor thread quality, you can be confident it's a fake.

5. Security Label

An authentic NFL jersey by Nike will have a security code on the inside sizing tag. You'll see two rows of metallic dots on the middle of the label, but these aren't just stitching—if you look closely, you'll see that each of these dots has different images of Nike words and logos.

6. Logos

Fakes often use old or completely off logos on the front of the jersey. If in doubt, double-check your team's logo to make sure. If it's not the same logo, it's a fake.

Fakes overlook this feature and simply stitch two rows of shiny dots to imitate the design.

Online Listings for Fake Vs. Authentic NFL Jerseys

If you're purchasing a jersey in person, you'll be able to run through the methods above to spot a fake. However, if you're buying online, you will need to look closely at the listing.

Scammers can use fake photos in their listings, so a keen eye for product detail won't necessarily help you here. However, there are other tell-tale signs you can look in a fake listing:

  • Price: Authentic NFL Game jerseys sell for around $100, Limited jerseys sell for $150, and Elite jerseys sell for $295. Yes, you'll find discounts from time to time, but if you find jerseys on sale for significantly less than these price tags, be on high alert.
  • Seller: Double-check the seller's information to make sure their contact details line up. For example, if the seller's name is Kyle Johnson, but their email address is [email protected], be cautious moving forward.
  • Typos: Scammers often get the details wrong. If you see grammar mistakes and typos in their product listing, start looking for other signs of fraud.
  • Reviews: Scammers often create fake reviews to provide social proof on their product listings. Check the 5-star reviews for signs of fraud—then check the 1-star and 2-star reviews for other reports of fraud.
  • Images: Don't trust an e-commerce site's listing that uses the NFL website's product images. Images of the product should be their own. If the seller hasn't displayed their own photos, ask them to send you pictures of the jersey.
  • Plagiarism: Copy/paste the seller's product description into a plagiarism checker. If it comes back as reused copy, be hesitant moving forward.

What to Do If You Purchase a Fake NFL Jersey

If you discover you've purchased a fake, take immediate action. The quicker you start the remediation process, the better. The steps you'll need to take depend on where you purchased the jersey:

  • Amazon: File for an A-to-Z Guarantee with Amazon's customer service team.
  • eBay: Reach out to eBay's customer service to see if you qualify for a money-back guarantee.
  • Facebook Marketplace: Facebook Marketplace has no protection for buyers.
  • Walmart Marketplace: Visit Walmart's Marketplace Promise to request a refund for your purchase.
  • Craigslist: Craigslist has no protection for buyers. However, it's important you contact Craigslist to report the fraud to prevent others from getting scammed.

Where to Buy Authentic NFL Jerseys

There are plenty of in-person and online locations you can find authentic NFL jerseys. However, expect to pay a higher price tag—that's the cost of authenticity:

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I tell a real from a fake NFL jersey?

Fake jerseys tend to use low-quality materials and stitching, and they don't get the details (like logos, coloring, and player numbers) right. Use our six methods to tell a real NFL jersey from a fake.

Who makes authentic NFL jerseys?

Nike is the NFL's official supplier of player uniforms and sideline gear. However, you can buy authentic jerseys from third-party sellers.

Where are NFL jerseys made?

Replica NFL jerseys are often made in Honduras and Guatemala, but the location can vary.

Where can I buy authentic NFL jerseys?

You can find authentic NFL jerseys at NFL Shop's website, Fanatics, Lids, and more. Although you may find real NFL jerseys being sold on classified websites like Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace, there’s a higher likelihood that you’ll encounter a fake.

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