CINCINNATI — Many Cincinnati Bengals fans would like some new gear before the Super Bowl.
But pickings are slim at the Bengals Pro Shop and other authorized merchants around town.
Instead, you'll find plenty of merchandise on local street corners.
But some fans are wondering if it is legal to buy it.
Fans love the convenience, low prices
You will see tents hawking cheap Bengals gear popping up all along Glenway and Colerain Avenue, and on other busy streets around Cincinnati.
One woman shopping outside Western Hills Plaza, who did not want to give her name, said "prices are reasonable, they are $20 for a T shirt, $40 for a sweatshirt, which is a lot less than what stores are charging."
But what exactly are you buying for your $20 or $40?
The NFL prohibits the unauthorized sale of merchandise with team logos, which means anything with a Bengals logo on it is probably not authorized by the league to be sold.
Approved apparel will all have an NFL hologram on the tag.
None of the shirts we checked at several booths had the hologram, just generic T-shirt labels, and logos that appeared to be ironed on.
But there is a market for this questionable merchandise: Good luck finding an official Joe Burrow jersey right now, even if you are willing to pay the $125 to $150 price tag.
That's why Burrow shirts and knockoff jerseys are popular, especially if you just need it for a Super Bowl party.
But if you buy one, don't expect high quality.
A couple of years ago, Greg Koch of Koch's Sporting Goods downtown showed us the difference between copycats and the real thing, with a counterfeit jersey he had on display.
"We have numbers that are too small, numbers that are the wrong shade, jersey fabrics that are the wrong shade and low quality" he said comparing a real and a knockoff jersey.
So is this merchandise illegal?
It is hard to tell without a customs inspection. And don't worry, police are not going to show up at your door and demand to inspect your T shirts.
But you might want to pay with cash, as you have no idea who you are giving your credit card to.
In addition, don't wash it too much: These sellers will be gone next week, and you will be unable to return it if the label falls off in the washing machine.
Bottom line: You won't get in legal trouble for buying street merchandise, but most street items are not authorized, may be counterfeit, and and may not last long.
As always don't waste your money.
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