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Fans clamoring for Brady jerseys
By Darren Rovell
ESPN.com

NEW ORLEANS -- After Week 6 of the NFL season, when the New England Patriots beat Indianapolis for the second time, Patriots fan Jeff Ayjian wanted a jersey with the name and number of Tom Brady, the backup quarterback who had just completed his fourth start in place of the injured Drew Bledsoe.

Tom Brady
New England's Tom Brady went from unknown to merchandising hero in three months.
Unable to locate one in the New England area, Ayjian ordered a custom No. 12 on the NFL Shop at NFL.com. A few days later, a sales representative from the NFL Shop called him to clarify his order.

"Itís Brady, right?" the representative asked. "Who is that? Is that the name of your friend?"

Much has changed in the last three and a half months. Now that Brady has led the Patriots to the Super Bowl, Tom Brady jerseys are one of the most coveted items in New Orleans.

"Now everyone's getting them," Ayjian said.

Small stores in New Orleans, like the seven Sports Avenue stores around the Riverwalk, can't keep Brady jerseys in stock. On Friday, customers asked for replica jerseys -- which range from $49.99 to $60 -- in all sizes all day long, said assistant manager Aaron Flynn.

"Some guy bought a Brady jersey three sizes bigger than he needed, because he just had to have it, and we didn't have any in stock," Flynn said.

Others are having their Patriots jersey customized with their name, but keeping Brady's number on it.

"By getting number 12, that shows support of him as well," said Lori Anne Kober, a spokesperson with Foot Locker, which has a 30,000 square foot store at the NFL Experience in New Orleans.

Retailers say people like Brady's All-American boy story with a twist of controversy. "Heís controversial in that, nine times out of 10, when a backup replaces the star quarterback, it doesnít turn out," Flynn said. "Not only does Tom Brady get the starting job, he takes them to the Super Bowl."

Jonah Hope, a 6-year old from Waco, Texas, watched the St. Louis Rams whenever he could this season. But when his father offered him a Kurt Warner jersey, young Jonah insisted on Brady, because Jonah remembered watching Brady play "the snow game," his father said.

"I never thought I'd buy a jersey of this guy," said Bruce Hall, a Patriots fans from San Diego. "But he's just the guy now."

Darren Rovell, who covers sports business for ESPN.com, can be reached at darren.rovell@espn.com.



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