The Bears have been playing football in the state of Illinois for 96 years, with home games played in Decatur, Champaign, and Chicago along the way.
However, the most popular player in the state is a quarterback who takes snaps for an AFC team approximately 1,000 miles away:
Beast Mode is taking over the west coast. pic.twitter.com/V5xsRA1Im1
— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) July 19, 2017
ESPN shared a graphic showing which players had the top-selling jerseys by state with data from NFLShop.com. Marshawn Lynch un-retired this offseason to join his hometown Oakland (they haven’t moved to Las Vegas just yet) Raiders and his popularity has never been higher. Lynch’s jersey is a top-seller in 14 different states, but not in Illinois. That distinction goes to Tom Brady, the 39-year-old quarterback who has a perfect 4-0 record against the Bears.
That’s right. The top-selling jersey in the Bears’ home state doesn’t belong to an active Bears player or someone on a hated division rival. In fact, no Bears are among the top-25 in jersey sales. Ouch. Instead, it belongs to arguably the greatest quarterback of all time. It’s a bit unsettling, especially when you see that the top-selling jerseys in Green Bay and Detroit are active players (and quarterbacks, to boot), while the top seller in Minnesota is an all-time great who the team just cut ties with.
All this begs for the following question to be asked: Whose jersey should you be buying if you’re a Bears fan?
We talked around this topic sometime in May, when we noted in Bullets that Jordan Howard’s jersey ranked fourth on a list of players whose jersey sales were on the rise, according to a list released by the NFLPA. Howard was joined by rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky (25th) as the only Bears on the list. Trubisky’s inclusion still stands as a bit of a surprise considering how unpopular the pick was among a loud segment of the fan base. Perhaps things have changed as we have stepped further away from the pure shock of the Bears making the moves they did to secure a chance to draft Trubisky.
To put a positive twist on the matter, just think of it as a chance to buy low and get in on the ground floor with some young players with upside before everyone think they’re cool.
It’s clear that both Howard and Trubisky have a lot of ground to make up in a popularity contest, but that’s probably the least of their concerns.