Moss' Vikes jersey was declining in popularity

Updated: February 24, 2005, 11:23 AM ET
By Darren Rovell | ESPN.com

Jon Langerud was sitting in his store reading the sports section of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, his TV tuned to SportsCenter, when he heard the news. Randy Moss was being shipped to Oakland.

I'd say that the black and silver Moss jersey will probably be the best-selling jersey in the league next year.
John Langerud, NorthernSportsOnline.com proprietor

"I was in shock," said the 28-year-old sports retailer from Forest Lake, Minn., who sells merchandise of teams from the NFC North on his Web site, NorthernSportsOnline.com. "I'm still trying to get over it."

Within five minutes of hearing the news, Langerud went to his computer and slashed Moss prices. Replica Vikings No. 84 jerseys went from $65 to $40. The authentic variety took a $39 hit, going from $199 to $160.

Since Langerud started his business, Moss items have made up about 25 percent of his sales. Realizing the run was over, he cut prices to rid himself of the 30 jerseys he had left.

Retailers in Oakland are likely now expecting Moss to energize their business, which has been very good in recent years.

From 2001 through 2003, the Raiders sold the most merchandise in the NFL. Although the league has not yet tallied numbers from this season, NFL sources say that the Raiders will definitely be among the top five in team sales for this past season.

For at least four straight years, the Raiders have had a player with a jersey among the top 10. Defensive end Warren Sapp was ranked fifth this year; wide receiver Jerry Rice was in the top 10 in 2001, 2002 and 2003; and cornerback Charles Woodson finished in the top 10 in 2001.

It is not yet clear what number Moss will use with the Raiders. Wide receiver Jerry Porter currently has No. 84. Porter signed a five-year deal with the team on Tuesday.

Having been with the same team for seven seasons, Moss' Vikings jersey was declining in popularity.

In 1998, his rookie season, he had the most popular jersey in the league. The following season, his jersey was the third most popular, behind Brett Favre and Troy Aikman. He ranked No. 16 on the list following the 2001 season and, this past season, was the league's 24th most popular jersey according to sales on NFLShop.com from April 1 through Dec. 1.

"He was starting to fade here," Langerud said. "I think it was a combination of fans having his jersey and others starting to get tired of his antics. But in Oakland, he's going to be pretty huge. I'd say that the black and silver Moss jersey will probably be the best-selling jersey in the league next year."

Darren Rovell, who covers sports business for ESPN.com, can be reached at darren.rovell@espn3.com.

Darren Rovell | email

ESPN.com Sports Business reporter

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