In the 1990s, NFL game jerseys, depending on the manufacturer, would have a Pro Line designation either on or near the basic manufacturers tag. Many NFL suppliers out of the 9 or so that helped outfit NFL teams used the Pro Line tagging on team-issued attire, but several did not. When these tags are found, they are a red flag identifying them as not team-issued pieces. This holds true in the case of Champion, Russell and Wilson, as well as in 2001-present Reebok jerseys.


I have written in the past about the oddity of 1983 year tagged salesman’s samples made by Wilson. To briefly sum up the way to identify one, in most cases, the tagging should be limited to a tail-located chain-stitched box tag with “83” sewn on; any other tagging elements, such as set, NIC, size, or player ID tags of a numerical nature will not be present, either separate or in a strip tag with the “83” year ID; and jerseys normally bearing NOBs on the team’s supply will not on the samples.

One such jersey was recently auctioned on eBay, though I strongly believe the seller was unaware of the true status of his piece. It was a 1983 home Angels Reggie Jackson sample, and the tag itself wasn’t a red flag, as the Wilson Angels gamers of the 1980s only had a year tag, in this case one identical to the 1983 samples. No, the tipoff on this one was the lack of a NOB,
as well as the lack of an imprint of a removed NOB. The Angels added NOB’s to their jerseys in 1982.


The marvelous and quality sale of game-used items the Detroit Tigers have engaged in for the last few years is the yin to the yang the Tigers’ attitude about collectors and game-used jerseys
was a little over 20 years ago. In the 1980s, anything that bore the markered initials JS (for Jimmy Schmakel, the Tigers’ equipment manager) on the manufacturer label was considered to be legally released by the team. Anything without the JS was deemed to be stolen or otherwise illegally released. Many Detroit area card shows, particularly the smaller ones, found Tigers employees roaming the aisles undercover to seek out Tigers shirts, and to confiscate any that were deemed to be a part of the stolen/illegally released group. The hobby was just starting to receive favorable policies from some teams regarding collectors having access to game-used uniforms, but there were still several teams whose policies were stuck in the mid-1970s…like the Tigers. It’s great to now see the organization as the friends of collectors, rather than the adversary of game-used hobbyists.