When you walk around Denver, every once in a while you’ll still see a No. 19 Jerry Rice jersey from his 2005 training camp with the Denver Broncos. Rice retired after the preseason, making those jerseys a regrettable purchase by September.
Lynch topped the NFLShop.com jersey sales for May, which isn’t a surprise. There might have been more important offseason acquisitions than the Raiders bringing the 31-year-old Lynch out of retirement, but no move was more fun. It’s not just that Lynch was one of the NFL’s most exciting players during his years with the Seattle Seahawks, but he came back to play for his hometown of Oakland. Lynch pushed Tom Brady down to No. 2 in jersey sales, followed by Dallas Cowboys teammates Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott in third and fourth. Houston Texans rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson rounded out the top five.
It’s also an unscientific answer to what the fan support for the Raiders will be like this season. The Raiders are moving to Las Vegas in 2020 (or that’s the plan anyway, delays can happen) and teams almost always see a huge dip in fan support before they relocate. While some Raiders fans probably won’t root for the team anymore, that fanbase has stayed loyal through relocations last century and a lot of bad seasons this century. The Raiders are finally good again, and a large portion of the fan base likely isn’t going to turn away now. A lot of jersey sales for a popular player doesn’t prove the Oakland fans will be packing the stadium through lame-duck seasons, but it’s a good bet they will.
It’s hard to predict how the Lynch move will work out, if it will be more Joe Montana with the Kansas City Chiefs or Joe Namath with the Los Angeles Rams. But for now, plenty of Raiders fans are gambling that their No. 24 jerseys won’t be stashed in the back of their closets forever.
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