Why you should care about fake Broncos gear

Posted at 12:15 AM, Feb 01, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-01 02:15:03-05

Before you buy that newest piece of Denver Broncos merchandise, read this story to know if you're getting a bill of goods and why it matters.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement is searching for fake merchandise in the final week leading up to Super Bowl 50.

If you're thinking, 'Why does ICE care about fake merchandise?' You're not alone.

"Just as immigration is individuals crossing a border, customs is things crossing a border," said ICE Homeland Security Investigations spokesman Bryan Cox.

Denver7 is the first news organization in the nation to see the latest stolen merchandise seized by ICE just this week in California.

"Dead giveaway -- we're playing the 'Brondos,'" said Cox as he showed a recently seized orange Peyton Manning jersey with the word "Brondos" above the number 18.

Aside from the obvious misspelled name, he compared the differences between that fake jersey and an officially-licensed Peyton Manning jersey.

"You can see there's no frayed edges, the stitching is good and rub your hand over the material, it's all smooth and one level," Cox said about the legit jersey.

"I'm just going to turn it inside out and right away, boom! Look at this, we've got loose threads, we've got frayed edges," he said about the Manning knockoff. "This jersey, you put it in the wash once or twice, it might fall apart on you."

Since last year's Super Bowl, the ICE HSI-led Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center seized about $19.5 million in fake NFL merchandise.

Even if you still want to save some money and don't care that your jersey may fall apart, ICE has another reason for you to care.

"That (money) can funnel guns, drugs, violence, you name it," said Cox. "So your $20, when compiled with all these others, goes to black market criminal activity."

And sometimes the knockoffs can even be more detailed than the real thing. He said to beware of one feature that you might not normally scrutinize.

"One dead giveaway that you can see from across the street; (when asking) is this a legit jersey or not, is the captain's patch," said Cox.

Peyton Manning is one of captains for the Broncos. On the right shoulder of his game jersey is a "C" patch with four stars below it, indicating he's a captain. Apparently, the NFL does not make a jersey with a captain's patch.

"So if you see somebody, 'Hey, I got this one with a captain's patch,' dead ringer right away, don't even need to look farther, that's counterfeit," said Cox.

"If I see that, I'm like, 'Man, that's a special jersey,'" said Denver7 reporter Marshall Zelinger.

"Boom! NFL does not sell jerseys with the captain's patch," said Cox.

One final clue would be to look at the tag on the jersey. There should be an NFL sticker that is a hologram indicating that it's a legit item. Fake jerseys sometimes do not have a hologram on the tag at all, while others have a small sticker that appears to be a hologram.

"When you actually look at it, you can tell that this is nothing more than a shiny piece of paper versus the actual one, when you turn it, it's a hologram," said Cox.