Confirmation that Peyton Manning is all the way back to prominence after missing a season to injury came in the surge to the top in sales of his jersey during the first week of the NFL season.
Manning, who debuted with the Broncos by leading a victory over the Steelers, had the No. 1-selling jersey and fueled a 131-percent increase in sales of his new team’s merchandise in Week 1. That was based on sites administered by Fanatics.com, but not including NFLshop.com.
It has been a spectacularly impressive comeback for Manning, whose career appeared in jeopardy after a neck injury kept him out of 2011 and the Colts dropped him. The Broncos-Steelers game tied a ratings record for NBC's “Sunday Night Football,” with 27.5 million total viewers and was the most-watched regular-season game in 16 years. That landed Manning on the West Coast cover of Sports Illustrated this week.
In addition, Manning is the subject of an elaborate corn maze by Fritzler Farms in LaSalle, Colo. The farm’s annual corn maze has previously paid tribute to the likes of The Wizard of Oz, Elvis and Ray Charles.
Jersey sales are the way football fans pay tribute to their favorites. Manning has had the best-selling NFL jersey since he signed with the Broncos, according to the latest figures released by NFLshop.com. He was followed by Robert Griffin III, Tim Tebow, Andrew Luck and Eli Manning.
A blow to Tebow Mania, the Jets’ backup quarterback was not in the top 10 of Week 1 sales on the Fanatics.com list. Oddly, neither was RG III, whose Redskins debut was the other highlight on the opening week. Manning was followed by fellow QBs Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and brother Eli and Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware.
Meanwhile, fans with an interest in tracking the ongoing battle for jersey supremacy can do so at the Dick’s Sporting Goods Jersey Report, which ranks the top-sellers at its stores nationwide. Dick’s current leader for the year is Andrew Luck, Manning’s successor as Colts quarterback, with 6 percent of overall sales. Peyton is No. 2 at 5.69 percent and trending upward, and Eli Manning is third.
On Dick’s rookie list, Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill is sixth behind Luck, RG III, Cleveland’s Trent Richardson, Carolina’s Luke Kuechly and Cleveland’s Brandon Weeden.
Here are the season leaders in player jerseys and team merchandise for the Fanatics.com sites heading into Week 2: