(NEW YORK) — Aaron Hernandez football jerseys are being sold on eBay for as much as twice their original cost as the New England Patriots offer exchanges to people who purchased the #81 jerseys of the former tight end arrested last week on murder charges.
The New England Patriots cut Hernandez and announced that the Patriots ProShop at Gillette Stadium will offer fans a chance to exchange #81 jerseys purchased at the store. On July 6 and 7, customers can bring in the jerseys without original receipts to exchange them for other jerseys.
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said he can’t recall a similar move by a team to allow exchanges for a player’s jersey. The jerseys were removed from NFLshop.com shortly after the football player’s arrest.
The New England Patriots, owned by the Kraft Group, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Ben Kent, 32, of Virginia Beach, listed his red #81 Hernandez jersey on eBay on Wednesday evening for $50. Bidding for the jersey had reached $227.50 mid-day on Monday, hours before the auction closed. The jersey had been viewed over 2,300 times.
Kent, who said he is surprised by the jersey’s popularity, said the original price was about $250. Kent said his item cost more than the typical $100 jerseys because this one replicates what players actually wear on the field.
“I was just going to take anything for it,” Kent said. “I was really waiting on what would happen with Aaron and the whole legal situation. Once he was arrested, I thought I would hold onto it because he might be charged with just obstruction of justice.”
When asked why he was selling the jersey, Kent said, “If I kept it, I could never wear it in public without people making comments. He’s charged as a murderer. I don’t need to be a part of that.”
Kent said collectors who simply want a rarity are snatching up the jerseys.
“People picking it up are strictly just for collection,” said Kent, who added that Hernandez was a popular player as a fourth round draft pick in 2010.
McCarthy said the NFLShop.com tracks the top 100 most popular jerseys on the site and Hernandez has never made the list.
From April 1 through March 31 of this year, Robert Griffin III, 23, Washington Redskins’ quarterback, had the most popular jersey on NFLShop.com. Griffin’s jerseys range from $69.95 for youth sizes to $249.95. Peyton Manning, 37, quarterback for the Denver Broncos, had the second most popular jersey.
As of Monday morning, there are about 1,593 items listed on eBay related to Aaron Hernandez.
That’s compared to about 5,714 items for Griffin and 14,465 items for Manning.
John Lamothe of Florida sold his jersey for $289 on Sunday after listing it for $15, as first reported by the Boston Globe.
As a graduate of the University of Florida, where Hernandez played in college, Lamothe said he’s been a fan since the player’s college days and bought the jersey several years ago for around $150.
“It’s not something I would want to wear which is why I was selling it,” Lamothe said. “I thought about giving it to Goodwill because I didn’t think anyone would want to buy it but I saw people were selling it on eBay and thought, ‘Let’s see what happens’.”
When asked why he thought the jerseys were increasingly popular, Lamothe conjectured, “Some people want to collect them, some people like the bad boy persona — I don’t know.”
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