The world's largest retailer of NFL merchandise isn't feeling any negative effects from the league's much criticized handling of high-profile incidents involving its players.
Data from Fanatics, which sells more than 10 million pieces of NFL gear a year, shows that team sales are up 23 percent from Sept. 1 to Sept. 18, as compared to that exact time period last year. That's better than the company as a whole had been performing and above baseline ecommerce growth in the retailing industry.
"There's no one in a better position than we are to see how fans are behaving," Fanatics CEO Doug Mack said. "All our numbers show that the business is very strong, fans are excited about the season and demand is high."
Mack said the company hasn't decided what it will do with the Adrian Peterson, Ray Rice and Greg Hardy jerseys that they are no longer making available to the public, but he did say that Peterson and Rice made up less than one one-thousandth of the company's NFL business.
Although the Carolina Panthers have been criticized for their handling of Hardy, who is appealing his domestic violence conviction, no team is selling better than the Panthers. Their merchandise is up 123 percent versus this time last year. Early 2-0 starts have the Buffalo Bills and the Cincinnati Bengals up 50 percent, Mack said.
Fanatics historical data shows that most of the league's team sales are directly reliant on winning and losing and individual player performance.
Mack acknowledged that the cases involving Rice, Peterson, Hardy and now Jonathan Dwyer "are serious and concerning that need to be addressed appropriately," but that the company, which also runs the NFL's official online shop, is not considering stepping away from the relationship with the league.
"Our mission as a company is to serve the interest of the fans and get them the gear that they want to support their favorite team," Mack said. "We expect the league to work through these issues and be stronger than ever, and I truly believe that any partner who ends their relationship with the league will regret their decision in the long run."