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No Ochocinco Reebok Jerseys For Chad?

Monday, 8 Sep 2008 | 3:27 PM ET
Ocho Cinco Jersey
Source: ebay.com
Ocho Cinco Jersey

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chad Johnson legally changed his name to Chad Ochocinco (note that it’s one word). But “Ochocinco” might not appear on his jersey for the rest of the year?

Here’s the deal.

Reebok, which makes the league’s jerseys, and licensees have to protect themselves from a player suddenly changing their number (it’s normally not a name), so they make them change whatever they need to change months before the season. Failure to do so means that a change likely won’t be made that season.

The sticking point is that for a receiver of Johnson’s caliber, there’s likely as much as 100,000 “C. Johnson” jerseys, not only in Reebok inventory, but in store shelves around the country.

If Johnson wanted to buy out all the jerseys, a source with knowledge of the situation said it would cost him the cost to make the jersey, which is roughly 60 percent of the retail price. That would be about $48 a jersey or $4.8 million if that 100,000 number is reality.

No player has ever bought out his jerseys like this. The closest a player has come to doing it was Oakland Raiders wide receiver Jerry Porter, who after the 2007 season wanted to wear No. 81 instead of No. 84. But when Porter was told he’d have to pay $210,000, he scrapped the plans. As it turns out, Porter is now with the Jacksonville Jaguars wearing No. 80.

The problem for Reebok is in the fact that the market isn’t exactly going to get better for the “C. Johnson” jerseys. After all, if Johnson is eventually going to become “Ochocinco” next year, why would anyone ever buy a “C. Johnson” now?

The fact that Ochocinco jerseys might not be available for the entire season is certainly boosting the black market for the jerseys. There are more than 40 “Ocho Cinco” jerseys on eBay.

Questions? Comments? SportsBiz@cnbc.com

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