Jarryd Hayne Already Fifth in NFL in Jersey Sales


Jarryd Hayne has been in the NFL for less than six months, after signing with the San Francisco 49ers on March 3rd of this year. He has two games of NFL experience, and has touched the ball nine times, as a runner, receiver, and returner. Despite the inexperience and unfamiliarity to the game of football, the former rugby star is already fifth in the NFL in jersey sales, and the highest-selling among running backs.

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The list of players ahead of Hayne would give the impression that Hayne is a star in the league, when in actuality, Hayne isn’t even a starter for the 49ers. Four-time Super Bowl champion for the New England Patriots, Tom Brady, one of the legendary quarterbacks in football history, tops the list. Two of the best wide receivers in the game stack up behind Brady, as the Dallas Cowboys’ Dez Bryant is second, and New York Giants’ second-year phenom Odell Beckham is third. Brady’s top target and the best tight end in football, the always-entertaining Rob Gronkowski sits fourth, just ahead of Hayne.

Meanwhile, Hayne’s biggest accomplishment so far in his NFL career is simply making the 49ers’ opening day roster, which in itself, is no small feat. Before signing with the 49ers, Hayne had never played football professionally, but he opened plenty of eyes with a great showing in the preseason. Hayne finished second in the preseason with 175 rushing yard, behind only the Detroit Lions’ Zach Zenner‘s 183 yards. His seven yards per carry were the most by a wide margin. His 18.1 yards per punt return were also second-best during preseason.

Right now, Hayne is the third-string running back (although Reggie Bush‘s injury has made him a 2A, besides rookie Mike Davis), and a part-time return man. This has to be some sort of record for jersey sales for a player of Hayne’s status on the depth chart.

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70 percent of Hayne’s jersey sales have came from his native Australia. But his popularity in the United States, particularly in the Bay Area, is undeniable. If one were to follow along with 49ers’ fans on twitter, it would be easy to tell when Hayne is in the game, even if you weren’t watching yourself. The “Hayne Plane”, which stems from his time in rugby, when he would raise his arms like the wings of an airplane in celebration of a try (basically Rugby’s version of a touchdown), has caught on again in the United States, amongst 49ers’ fans.

Hayne wasn’t the only 49ers’ player to find themselves on the jersey sales top-25 list. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick settled in at 11th, and sixth among quarterbacks. Linebacker NaVorro Bowman, who has made a triumphant return from a devastating knee injury two seasons ago, is listed 21st, third among defensive players, with only Houston Texans’ superstar J.J. Watt and Green Bay Packers’ linebacker Clay Matthews ahead of him.

Hayne is not a superstar in the NFL, despite what the jersey sales might make one think. As a 27-year-old rookie, he may never become a superstar, or anything more than a role player on any team. But he has been a nice story in the NFL, and could inspire more rugby players in the future to make the transition to professional football here in the United States. The NFL sorely needs more feel good stories these days.

Next: NFC West Power Rankings, Week Two