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Shopping With the Enemy: New England Patriots Edition

Lobsters, Robots, and Tom Brady Hagiography

UGG For Men Grand Opening Photo by Desiree Navarro/WireImage

The Packers Pro Shop has its fair share of generic merchandise stamped with a G, exactly like every other team has, but there’s also a unique Wisconsin thread running through it resulting in a truly homey feel. The collection of Cheesehead merch, remote control coolers, and overalls just speaks to me.

The Patriots’ Pro Shop is run by Fanatics, which can lead to a more generic experience, but fortunately for us, there’s enough truly Patriot gear in here to ensure we have a proper appreciation for the region. You want lobsters? The Patriots have Lobsters for you.

Do you want a super aggro Pat Patriot who looks like he was designed by a 1990s toy company to give the impression that he has too much attitude for your parents? Aggro Pat is all over the place.

Aggro Pat is too EXTREME for you nerds out there. Only the cool kids can take this extremely testosterone-fueled version of their beloved mascot. All for just $120 bucks.

But where the Pats’ Pro Shop really excels is in Tom Brady hagiography. This is not surprising of course, and if I ran this store, I too would have Tom Brady everything, but my favorite sub-genre is “Tom Brady signed pictures with adversaries.” It’s very strange. Take this “handshake photo” with Peyton Manning, where the existence of an actual handshake is very much in question.

And the facial expressions are anyone’s guess. From Tom’s pursed lips, half-closed eyes, and eye black to Peyton’s oddly placed open hand, no eye black, and the fact that he’s carrying a football, the memory of this moment can be forever yours for just $3000.00.

Are you a fan of the “tuck rule,” which denied Charles Woodson a trip to the Super Bowl and crushed a potential mini-Raiders Dynasty, as they would go the next season and lose to Tampa? Well, Charles Woodson and Tom Brady both signed this for some reason, and it can be yours for $2500.00. I assume Charles was quality testing his bourbon when asked to do this.

My second favorite bit of Tom Brady hagiography is purely based on price. The previous most expensive item I’ve found at a pro shop, aside from these truly ridiculous crystal footballs, was a Steelers’ coffee table book that included actual tickets and other perks. It was $9500. Tom couldn’t let the Steelers one-up him though, and so we have:

One of the funniest things about this is that it’s an Upper Deck card, but there is a bargain alternative available! I used to collect baseball cards in the early 90s, at which point there were 5 major brands to choose from. I would rank them, by quality and popularity, as follows:

  1. Upper Deck/Topps. Upper Deck did cool stuff with holograms and other gimmicky nonsense. Topps was the king, the original, and what everyone else aspired to.
  2. Donruss, which made inroads through the legend of their Jose Canseco and Ken Griffey Jr. “Rated Rookie” Cards, and helped pioneer the forced scarcity that would eventually destroy the market.
  3. Fleer, which was high quality and well respected.
  4. Score, which was colorful, a bit silly, but still fine.
  5. And Bowman, which, at the height of Griffey-mania, put out a Ken Jr/Sr card just to try and really rake in those Griffey bucks, and was, generally speaking, not great.

If you don’t like the upper deck 30K Brady, there’s a discount $11,500 Bowman available. Looking closely at the picture, I’m not sure this one is in mint. Which seems about right.

History doesn’t repeat itself, but it rhymes.

Maybe my favorite part of the entire Pro Shop, and any Pro Shop really, is weird pants. I think it’s hard to create too much variety with the pants you sell, which can lead to some oddness like these pink pants, modeled effortlessly by this 45-year-old dad who just got up and tucked his Hanes Tee into them before getting his coffee.

But my real favorites are these bad boys.

PATRIOTS written across the crotch in huge letters? Check.

A Pat graphic by that fun little triangle cutout on the leg? Also check.

Marked down from $400 to $320? Hells yes. Look ladies, this is the $320 Patriot crotch of a man with too much money and excellent judgment.

Over in the kids’ section we have truly awful Halloween costumes featuring a built in “helmet” that is likely to offer no protection when the bullies pound you and that seems specifically calculated to get you to buy a better separate helmet.

We’ve got this Gronk plush which honestly is awesome and I want it. Just wook at wittle Gwonk.

And of course, a robot.

Which features this amazing description:

Yes, the Patriot Pro Shop ticks all the boxes for the ridiculousness we’ve come to expect from NFL merch, with bold New England Patriots Graphics so no one will be able to question where your allegiance lies. From the basic ugly:

To the truly bizarre:

They’ve got what you need.

Packer Item of the Week

I didn’t know I needed this, but now I want one installed not only in my car, but in the cars of my Bears and Vikings fan friends.