Some Florida Gators fans were disappointed when Florida’s tease of something happening in regards to its Ring of Honor on Thursday was revealed to be merely the release of the Ring of Honor Collection of merchandise, rather than the announcement of another inductee or something similar.
One wonders if those fans will change their tune upon seeing the gorgeous merchandise, which includes throwback jerseys bearing the names of Gators legends Emmitt Smith (in the orange of his era) and Jack Youngblood (in the white of his day), shirseys in the same style, and Jordan Brand tees bearing the new and excellent Ring of Honor logo, all of which were released for purchase this Friday and which you can pick up through the links below.
The more interesting thing to me about this collection, however, is that it is a very rare instance in which Florida has put former players’ names on merchandise available to the public. Steve Spurrier’s name appeared on throwback Nike jerseys sold in conjunction with the 2006 debut of the beloved Spurrier-era throwbacks — revived, in a sense, last fall — but those jerseys sold quickly and have become almost impossible to find since. And while Florida has sold officially-licensed football jerseys with various numbers — I’m aware of ones with Youngblood’s No. 74, a No. 96 short for the football team’s 1996 title, No. 15s and No. 11s and No. 7s for Tim Tebow and Spurrier and Danny Wuerffel, the school’s trio of Heisman-winning quarterbacks — over the years, those have obviously lacked names.
Now there’s a precedent that obviously establishes a runway to jerseys — and beautiful period-specific ones, to boot — featuring the names of Spurrier, Tebow, Wuerffel, and oft-forgotten titan Wilber Marshall, the other four honorees in the Ring of Honor.
And if — maybe when — Florida gets around to inducting Urban Meyer into the Ring of Honor, it will have a way to monetize his induction beyond merely drawing fans to a game. (Meyer is the only other person, player or coach, who currently meets Florida’s stringent conditions for entry into the Ring of Honor.)
But given that this use of former players’ names, images, and likenesses probably provides a template for Florida to use going forward, there’s nothing to stop the program from, say, releasing a No. 1 Percy Harvin jersey, or a No. 21 Fred Taylor, as part of a Legends Collection.
And given that the use of current players’ names, images, and likenesses is about to be something that players will be clamoring to do, this could be just the first drip of a torrent of new merchandise that Florida will be putting out.
For any fan who wants to rep some of the celebrated legends of Florida’s past, this release is fantastic news. For any Gator who will want to show their support for Kyle Trask, Kadarius Toney, Kyle Pitts, Kaiir Elam, or even a player whose first name doesn’t start with a K going forward, this might be even better news.