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The art of exchanging jerseys in the NFL

Swap, meet: NFL players exchange jerseys

LANDOVER, MD - SEPTEMBER 13: Inside linebacker Perry Riley #56 of the Washington Redskins swaps jerseys with middle linebacker Kelvin Sheppard #52 of the Miami Dolphins after a game at FedExField on September 13, 2015 in Landover, Maryland. (Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Win or lose, it’s basically Christmas every week for some NFL players. It’s a common sight to see players exchanging jerseys after games with either childhood friends, former college or NFL teammates or simply out of mutual respect. For the Washington Redskins, left tackle Trent Williams, wide receiver DeSean Jackson and safeties Dashon Goldson and Jeron Johnson are often among those swapping jerseys with opposing players after games. The goal for every player is to eventually frame these jerseys because, at the end of the day, these guys are fans too.

Jersey tales: Each Redskins player reveals the inspiration behind his number

Goldson, 31, is wrapping up his ninth season in the league. While he has taken part in this tradition throughout his career, he has done it more often over the past two years with players he has respected in the league, like New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis and New Orleans Saints wide receiver Marques Colston.

“I’m getting up there and don’t know how much longer I’ll be in this game,” Goldson said. “I want to make sure that I pay respect to my guys that I respect out the league and vice versa. Guys are asking for my jersey after the game all the time, and it’s some people I don’t even know.”

He chooses not to get the jerseys washed in order to keep the authentic feel. Goldson said he’ll also get jerseys signed and hang them up in his game room or around the house. Johnson will do the same, though he regrets not getting some of his jerseys signed by his former NFL and college teammates after a game.

“A lot of it, especially guys in college, we endured it,” said Johnson, who attended Boise State. “We beat the odds, so to say, especially coming from a small school like myself. We beat the odds, made it out and it’s just sharing it with each other.”

Which jersey number would you choose? What’s your story?

Williams has two lockers at Redskins Park with filled with opposing jerseys from the past two seasons. He says he didn’t have time during the offseason to frame all the jerseys he received last year because of water damage in his house over the summer, but the four-time Pro Bowler intends to do that this offseason. Williams doesn’t seek out an opposing team’s best player, but rather someone he’s had a history with so the jersey can have some personal value to it.

“I just like to have all my friends and want to get their jerseys,” Williams said. “It kind of immortalizes the time when we played football. I can put it in a frame and every day walk by it like, ‘You know what, that’s a Chris Ivory jersey — my Day 1 friend.’”

Williams’s collection includes former Oklahoma teammates, like Minnesota Vikings right tackle Phil Loadholt and Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy. Williams cherishes Ivory’s jersey he received in Week 6, however. The New York Jets running back grew up in Longview, Tex., with Williams.

“We’re childhood friends, and we both literally started from the same elementary, same day care,” Williams said. “We had the same dreams from middle school to high school and to college. To see that we got to the same platform we wanted to get to, to me that’s special.”

There are some stipulations when players get rid of their jerseys, though. First off, it’s not free. It varies across the league how much it will cost for a new jersey, but Goldson said the Redskins charge around $300. After surveying different NFL teams, the range is about as low as $250 and as high as $350. Some teams allow players to have two free jerseys to either keep or trade, like the Seattle Seahawks, before charging $300 for every replacement. Meanwhile, the Cleveland Browns charge $300 for a new jersey and increase the price after the fourth jersey.

“It ain’t like you’re giving away a free jersey or getting a free jersey,” Goldson said. “That’s coming out of your check. Some people probably would charge or whatever like, ‘Let me get that $350 back.’ I don’t. It’s just a respect thing for me.”

Not everybody swaps jerseys after games though. Goldson said he tried to trade jerseys in Week 9 after the New England Patriots game with wide receiver Julian Edelman, but Edelman said the team won’t allow it. Though Patriots wide receiver Brandon LaFell posted an Instagram picture of him swapping jerseys with Tennessee Titans linebacker Brian Orakpo after Sunday’s game, as many Patriots fans have pointed out on Twitter. A Patriots representative said the team is taking steps to minimize jersey exchanges after games. It’s “frowned upon” by the team, but it isn’t completely banned as players, like LaFell, have done it in the past while giving advanced notification. Pittsburgh Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin banned players from swapping jerseys last year.

“I think that’s whack but, hey, to each its own,” Goldson said. “That’s the only team I’ve encountered that didn’t.”

Jackson has swapped jerseys just about every week, from Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall, to Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler and most recently Buffalo Bills wide receiver Sammy Watkins. Oddly enough, he received some criticism after the team lost to the Dallas Cowboys, 19-16, in Week 13 for exchanging jerseys with wide receiver Dez Bryant after the game.

When asked about some of the criticism Jackson received after the Cowboys game, Williams said players don’t need to give an explanation as to why they take part in the postgame ritual.

“If a guy wants to swap a jersey, a guy can swap a jersey,” Williams said. “We’re grown men. I don’t understand the scrutiny behind it. If he was to storm up, throw his helmet in the crowd and spaz out, then he would be looked at as immature and having poor sportsmanship. It’s a lose-lose situation if you ain’t realized that no matter what you do, it’s going to be somebody in this world that disagrees with it.

“You just got to worry about what you can control and the people who really matter. If they’re criticizing someone for swapping jerseys, especially complete strangers, you really don’t value their opinions if they don’t understand it, so it’s not really worth explaining. You try to explain it, then somebody else is going to have [something to say], then you’re going that. Everybody is entitled to their opinion, and you leave it at that.”

All in a day’s work

  1. Williams was selected to his fourth straight Pro Bowl on Tuesday.
  2. In this week’s mailbag from Mike Jones, do the Redskins deserve our confidence this week against the Philadelphia Eagles?
  3. A closer look at DeSean Jackson’s performance against the Bills.
  4. The Redskins signed tight end Marcel Jensen off the Bills’ practice squad.
  5. Which Redskins deserved to be in the Pro Bowl?

Today’s schedule
The Redskins will begin practice at 11:35 a.m. with Redskins Coach Jay Gruden and quarterback Kirk Cousins addressing the media at the podium. The Redskins media will also receive Eagles Coach Chip Kelly and wide receiver Jordan Matthews via conference call.

This post has been updated since it first posted at 7:30 a.m.

Master Tesfatsion begins weekday mornings on The Insider with a quick take on the Redskins. Here are his previous Opening Kicks.