It seems like a terrible time to raise the cost of jerseys at NFLShop.com -- by a whopping five dollars apiece. Yet that's exactly what is happening although a lockout is firmly in place with no current guarantee of football in 2011.
The NFL insists the price hike is a result of the "normal course of business."
I called NFLShop.com after seeing a report on JoeBucsFan.com (via Pro Football Talk) that the NFL has increased the costs of replica jerseys from $79.99 to $84.99. After providing my name and employer, I was immediately put on hold and transferred to a supervisor.
"Well, the only thing we can say about any price increases are a part of normal course of business and a result of the cost of goods increasing, sir," the supervisor told CBSSports.com.
Since that didn't equate to confirmation, I felt a follow-up question was appropriate. I asked: "But can you confirm the increase in $5 per jersey?"
"Yes, sir, but any price increases are part of a normal course of business," she replied.
As to the issue of selling jerseys for unsigned rookies (as you can see Cam Newton jerseys are on "advance sale!" for $84.99), the supervisor said that she "wouldn't be able to answer that" question.
Obviously, the timing on the increase in costs for jerseys is poor (and that may be an understatement).
But, it's entirely possible that the cost of jersey-making is going through the roof right now, which would rationally explain the need to raise costs of jerseys by $5 under the "normal course of business."
However, representatives for both the NBA.com and MLB.com confirmed to CBSSports.com that neither of their respective stores had raised prices in the last month and neither had plans to raise prices any time in the near future.
Certainly, jersey-making, while not homogenous across all sports, should follow some sort of trend. It seems that the NBA and MLB should also be feeling any increase in costs. However, if those teams are feeling cost increases they certainly are not passing them on to fans -- and that is what makes the NFL's move so problematic in a lockout-ridden offseason.
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Photo via NFL.com