NFL Players are Now Practicing One of Soccer’s Oldest Rituals

If you watch soccer, there’s a decades-long tradition that usually happens after the referee’s final whistle.

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Aside from players and coaches occasionally confronting sketchy referees…

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Opposing players will swap jerseys. It’s a sign of respect and both players get to take home a memento.

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The practice is believed to have started in 1931, when players from France’s national team asked to swap jerseys with England’s national team after beating them for the first time.

Over the last decade, the jersey-swapping ritual has made its way to the NFL.

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According to the NY Times, jersey-swapping has been around for years, but it really picked up last season.

In fútbol, jersey-swapping is usually a spur-of-the-moment move. In the NFL, the swaps are usually planned out in advance.

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Credit: Gregory Shamus / Getty

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And the players have the cost of each jersey docked from their pay at the end of the season.

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Several players told the New York Times that each jersey will cost more than $100. Not too bad for guys making millions.

Sometimes, players will swap jerseys with an opposing player that they respect as an athlete.

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“You watch any of the gladiator or Spartan movies, on the field of battle is their helmet or whatever they were wearing — they won or lost in it. The jerseys are kind of like our armor,” said Odell Beckham Jr. to The New York Times.

But players usually swap jerseys with friends, former college teammates or players who they consider mentors.

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“To me, it’s not about collecting them. It’s if the person means something to me, if he played some type of role in my life,” said New York Jets cornerback Dexter McDougle to The New York Times.

Makes sense, because NFL jerseys don’t slip off as easily as soccer jerseys.

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Credit: Patrick Smith / Getty

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