- Covered the Buccaneers since 2009
- Joined ESPN in 2016
TAMPA, Fla. — Not only did quarterback Tom Brady’s arrival in Tampa propel the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a Super Bowl win — he turned them into the NFL’s most popular merchandise-seller in 2020 after being one of the least popular in 2019.
According to Fanatics executive chairman Michael Rubin, Brady helped the Bucs go from No. 28 in NFL team sales in 2019 to No. 1 in 2020, a 1,200% year-over-year increase. Rubin said it was the biggest one-year increase for any team in Fanatics’ history.
The company did not disclose actual total number of jersey sales year-over-year, but said the second-largest jump year-over-year for a team was in 2017 with the Philadelphia Eagles, a Fanatics spokesperson told ESPN. Brady merchandise sales were also the largest single-year player sales in NFL history, the spokesperson said, ahead of Patrick Mahomes in 2019.
The Bucs’ jersey sales also were aided by a return to their more traditional-looking uniforms that were widely popular during the team’s 2002 Super Bowl run, worn from 1997-2013, after a uniform change from 2013-2020 was not received well by fans. The team unveiled its 2020 uniform design one month after news broke that Brady was signing with the Buccaneers.
The support for Brady extended beyond Tampa Bay, with a number of his New England followers maintaining their loyalty. Fanatics said that while Tampa was the top market for Brady jersey sales in 2020, Boston was No. 2, followed by New York, Orlando and Los Angeles.
Brady also broke Fanatics’ record for most jerseys sold in a single season and accounted for 19% of all Buccaneers championship sales four days after the Super Bowl, the company said, with a large percentage of the remaining sales devoted to Buccaneers championship merchandise.
In 2020, Brady signed a long-term contract with Fanatics, making it the sole distributor of his autographed collectibles and memorabilia. Brady also partnered with Rubin for his ALL IN Challenge, which raised money for food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Brady’s arrival also has helped the Bucs expand their social media followings. Before he chose to sign with Tampa Bay on March 17, 2020, the Bucs had 792,321 followers on Twitter, according to Statista. They’re now at 997,500 followers.
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