From April 1 through Aug. 1, the star quarterback’s No. 18 jersey was the most purchased in the NFL.
But students in the Greeley-Evans School District will not be among those sporting Manning’s jersey on Fridays this fall — at least not in the classroom. An 8-year-old third grader who came to school wearing a No. 18 Broncos jersey was sent home to change this week because the number on the jersey violates a gang apparel ban in the district, which is located about an hour north of Denver.
“I think it’s sad that it’s come to that,” veteran wide receiver Brandon Stokley told the Denver Post. Stokley’s No. 14 jersey is also forbidden. “We love the support, especially from kids. I have a son in the third grade and he loves to wear jerseys. It’s sad that the circumstances surrounding this have made it come to this.”
The mother of the boy, Konnor Vanatta, said her son has been a fan of Manning for years and that his grandmother purchased the Denver jerey for him.
“It was absurd to me. I was shocked,” Pam Vanatta told told CBS 4 Denver on Wednesday. “I was speechless.”
In addition to 18 and 14, 13, 31, 41 and 81 — the number of tight end Joel Dreessen — all fall under the ban, which is designed to prevent students from wearing anything that could be associated with local gangs. The No. 18 is not permitted on apparel within the school district due to its potential association with the 18th Street gang, while the other numbers are banned due to their association with the Sureño and Norteño gangs, the Denver Post reported.
“I’m okay with it,” Dreessen said. “This is a unique situation. If it helps prevent any type of violence or gang violence or bullying against young people, then I’d rather they not wear my jersey. It is sad to think about that someone may not like you because of a number on your jersey.”