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A Look Into ‘Penn State Jerseys’: A Nittany Lion Football Fan’s Passion

It was a chilly April morning outside Beaver Stadium before the 2006 Blue-White Game got underway. A man sitting in a folding chair waits for the trailer featuring game-used jerseys, helmets, and other Penn State football memorabilia to open so he can pursue his hobby of collecting authentic jerseys. 

This man, who will be referred to as “Joe” throughout this post, has been an avid jersey collector and Penn State fan from a young age. He runs an Instagram account called @pennstatejerseys that features Penn State memorabilia, the vast majority of which are game-used jerseys. He uses the account to interact with other collectors and even former Penn State players, too.

Joe’s Penn State fandom began when he was young. Since then, his love for the Nittany Lions has only grown and expanded.

“The first game I watched was the ’95 Rose Bowl, and I’ve been a fan ever since,” Joe told Onward State.

Joe didn’t attend Penn State, but back in college, nothing would stop him from frequently making the long drive from his school to visit State College for football games.

“I used to drive two hours to the games every Saturday morning for pretty much every home game — even when the team was 3-8 and 4-7,” he said.

Joe began collecting jerseys through eBay when he was about 13 years old. He’d save up money to buy his first few, and from there, “it all started adding up.”

Part of the beauty of collecting authentic, game-worn jerseys came in their imperfect conditions. These threads had repairs, visible hit marks, grass stains, and more that oozed authenticity and created some truly special keepsakes.

Finding game-worn jerseys became easier over the years as eBay became more popular and Penn State eventually began auctioning off and selling the jerseys. 

Last year, when Joe had accumulated plenty of items for his collection, he made the Instagram account.

“My wife was like, ‘Oh, this would be cool to find a way to network with other collectors.’ My original goal was to post pictures for collectors, for other fans to enjoy, and for former players to enjoy,” he said.

After some time, the posts and followers started to accumulate, and, as Joe says, “It just kind of took off.”

Former players began to message the account about their jerseys being featured, which led to more followers and unique interactions for Joe.

“They see it and appreciate it. Then, they show it to their followers and families, and they just love it. Then, the player’s followers will see my page and start following it,” Joe said.

Some players even show the account to their families and they love it even more.

“It’s sentimental to them…Sometimes, the families see it and are even bigger fans than the player,” said Joe.

As of February 2022, Joe estimates that he has collected more than five dozen authentic jerseys so far. Joe’s most important piece is a 2005 Paul Posluszny jersey. Another piece Joe is fond of is a pair of 2005 Michael Robinson jerseys.

“[Robinson] wore the first jersey through the Ohio State game [that year], and the jersey was so destroyed that they issued him a new one that he wore through the Wisconsin senior day, so I have that one too,” said Joe.  

Jerseys from the 2005 Big Ten championship season were Joe’s favorite as a collector. He proudly boasts a handful tied to that fateful campaign.

Besides helping him draw on good memories, Joe says the account has fostered real-world connections, too. Recently, Joe drove to Virginia to meet former Penn State and NFL legend Lavar Arrington — his self-proclaimed “holy grail.” 

After messaging back and forth with Arrington on Instagram, Joe brought three of Arrington’s game-worn jerseys to get signed. He brought Arrington’s rookie Redskins Washington Commanders jersey (that Arrington wore in his debut), a blue Giants jersey that Arrington wore in his last NFL game, and a white Giants jersey. 

Courtesy of @pennstatejerseys

“He was so gracious. He signed all three and loved seeing them and hearing the stories,” Joe said. 

In addition to jerseys, Joe’s Instagram account also features signed helmets and photos.

“I have a photo of Joe and Sue Paterno leaving the stadium after the Outback Bowl, which was the last bowl game he coached,” he said.

Joe hopes to involve more people in his hobby and help them “enjoy it as much as I do.” He also hopes that former players will continue to see their jerseys on his account and be reminded of their playing days. Many of the players who are seeing Joe’s account are “years removed from the NFL and aren’t the [well-konwn] Saquon Barkleys.”

Joe’s dedication to collecting these jerseys is never-ending. He has done whatever it takes to continue his passion, including paying large sums of money, driving hours to get pieces signed, or waiting in long, cold lines just for the chance to grow his collection.

Joe hopes that his Instagram page will continue to “bring back good memories” for fans, collectors, and players alike and stresses that his posts, much like his jerseys, are entirely authentic.

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About the Author

Nolan Wick

Nolan is a freshman majoring in journalism. From the Maryland side of the D.C. suburbs, Nolan likes using Old Bay and is a diehard Washington sports fan, which can be both difficult and rewarding. If you want to debate anything about sports with him, follow him on Instagram @_nolanwick or on Twitter @nolan_wick.

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