Who should profit from my kids' Denard Robinson jerseys?

The NCAA's endorsements vote won't ruin college sports

Denard Robinson.
(Image credit: Illustrated | Leon Halip/Getty Images, Wikimedia Commons, decobrush/iStock)

On the last nine Saturdays in a row (including our team's bye week) my three children have all worn versions of the same outfit, purchased, in each case, at a thrift store: a tot-sized Michigan football jersey emblazoned with the number 16. Two of them are already old enough to know what my wife and I and everyone else who has ever seen them in their gameday attire understand — they are wearing Denard Robinson jerseys.

Shoelace was, not to put too fine a point on it, a major bust in the NFL. Drafted in the fifth round by a Jacksonville Jaguars team that did not know how to make use of his speed and other less tangible abilities, and plagued by injuries (ones that were almost certainly exacerbated by both his signature idiosyncratic footwear choices and bad coaches who did not force him to develop as a pocket passer), Robinson finished his professional career with a combined 1,341 yards rushing and receiving in 13 starts over four seasons. But during his time at Michigan, Robinson was, on a good day, the most exhilarating athlete in college football — "like the horses of Erichthonius in Homer, which galloped on the tops of the cornstalks and did not break them, and trod upon the spray of the sea." I have not been able to locate any figures on the sale of number 16 jerseys during his time there, but they must have run into the millions — millions for which he would never receive a single penny.

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Matthew Walther

Matthew Walther is a national correspondent at The Week. His work has also appeared in First Things, The Spectator of London, The Catholic Herald, National Review, and other publications. He is currently writing a biography of the Rev. Montague Summers. He is also a Robert Novak Journalism Fellow.