Another Uniform Inventory Story


For now, Chad Johnson can't wear Ocho Cinco

Remember this story from last year? Another year, another NFL receiver, another Reebok “waste of inventory” story.

“He's legally changed his name, so we're willing to recognize that,” [NFL Commissioner Roger] Goodell said. “There's what I call a more administrative issue that has to be dealt with. There's a large inventory of jerseys that are out there with 85 Johnson. Any player that changes a number or changes his name has to address that so that our licensing is not stuck with a large inventory. That's just something we're dealing with. As far as we're concerned, if he changes his name legally, that's fine with us.”

Maybe it's unfair to blame Reebok — their forecasting system probably doesn't account for name changes. But when you have a diva wide receiver, you should anticipate this kind of thing…. almost. Too bad Chad Ocho Cinco, er Chad Johnson, didn't give more visibility about his name change to Reebok.

My conclusion — cut Reebok a bit of slack… but not too much. A “leaner” supply chain would hold less inventory and there would be less need to dump the “Johnson 85” jerseys. I wonder if Ocho Cinco will buy his way out of this, ala Jerry Porter?

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Mark Graban
Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.


  1. Forget Reebok- what about the people that already bought the shirt? Who wants a Johnson shirt when you can have “Ocho Cinco”? (And why isn’t it Ochenta Cinco?) Are they going to sell all of the inventory and then change it? I think they are going to have a hard time selling the inventory and should give up now.

  2. This strikes me as one the most absurd supply chain design decisions possible. And not just because I am a repenting Cincinnati Bengals fan…

    I’m not sure where Reebok makes its jerseys (somewhere in Asia ?), but there is a basic concept in Supply Chain Management 101 to delay customization of a product.

    There are 3 colors of the Chad Johnson jersey — white, black, and orange.

    The right thing to do would be to stock blank jerseys (semi-finished goods) regionally and customize by adding the player’s number and name before shipping to retail outlets or customers who buy directly from the NFL.

    It appears that Reebok and the NFL have never heard about postponement…

    Chad Johnson’s jersey is not even in the top 25 of most popular jerseys on, so why would there be $500K in jerseys already made?

    Furthermore, what terrible contract terms did the NFL Players Association negotiate with Reebok and the NFL on profit sharing for licensing of jerseys? How do you sign up players for liability on jerseys?

    What if a player gets traded to another team, like Brett Farve? Does he have to pay for all his old Packers jerseys and assume liability for unsold jerseys already in the channel?

    What if someone gets married and changes their name? Now, with NFL players currently being 100% male, you may think this is an unlikely instance, there might be a progressive guy who decides to hyphenate his last name and add his wife’s name to his own.

    Seems like Reebok would be smarter than this and see the upside to sell more new jerseys. For Chad, it’s probably a decent marketing move to reinvigorate interest in his career.

    Even though he has been to the Pro Bowl the last five consecutive years, he has tailed off in popularity. Reebok could get an incremental bump in revenue from allowing Mr. Ocho Cinco to release a new jersey.

    But maybe they should first try to understand what a Pull System can do for them…


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