Dick’s Sporting Goods released a report Wednesday on the best selling NFL jerseys of the year, and four of the top five came as no surprise. Their was reigning Super Bowl MVP and probably GOAT Tom Brady. There was the exciting young Cowboys duo of Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott. And there was 2016 No. 1 overall draft pick Carson Wentz.
Then there was James Conner, a Pittsburgh Steelers running back who has yet to take an NFL snap and who lasted until the No. 105 pick in April’s draft.
The only player with higher jersey sales than rookie James Conner is the five-time Super Bowl champ. pic.twitter.com/8QPqzq8Drt
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) July 19, 2017
The obvious reason for Conner’s ascendance to the top of the jersey-sales leaderboard is his back-story. Conner was a star running back at the University of Pittsburgh and a fringe Heisman hopeful when he tore his ACL, ending his junior season after only one game. During his rehab process, doctors discovered he had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, and he spent much of the next year undergoing treatments for the disease. He returned to the field, cancer-free, in 2016 and rushed for 1,092 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Clearly fans of both the Pittsburgh Steelers and Pittsburgh Panthers were moved enough by Conner’s story to buy the running back’s jersey.
Conner is expected to back up Le’Veon Bell to start the season. The more success he has in the NFL, the more people will hear his story and the more people in the stands will be wearing his jersey.