Editing for Grammarphobes 2.0: Suffixes on Jerseys are Just Plain Wrong


Every Wednesday, Editing for Grammarphobes 2.0 features handy tips to enhance all of our writing, from daily emails to articles to books. After all, everyone needs to write, right?

I don’t know if you watch football, American football, that is, for my friends across the pond, but I’ve noticed something over the last few years that just drives me crazy…grammatically. 

The National Football League has it’s share of problems, and I don’t want you to think I take them lightly, but since this is Editing for Grammarphobes, today I only want to discuss one— suffixes on jerseys. 

Look around any football game, and you’ll most surely see a Jr. or a III sewn on after a player’s last name.

Does that look right to you?

Photo courtesy of Keith Allison.

It’s not. 

Suffixes like Jr., Sr., and Roman numerals should not be on football or any sports jerseys. They are intended to differentiate the younger family member from the older. Since the older is not playing football on the team with his son, suffixes are not necessary. Also, the suffix is actually attached to the person’s first name. It’s the third Robert, for example, not the third Griffin. 

I’ve read a few articles about this. The players seem to be adding it to let the world know they are the second or third in their family. While it’s very sweet they want to honor their fathers, it’s just not grammatically correct.

What do you think? Does it drive you nuts or are you okay with it?

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These five books are on my desk at all times. Maybe they'll help you as well.

The Associated Press Stylebook, 2016 edition
The Chicago Manual of Style
Strunk and White's The Elements of Style
Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 11th edition
The Bugaboo Review: A lighthearted guide to exterminating confusion about words, spelling, and grammar


A professional writer/editor for almost 30 years, Karen Wojcik Berner's wide and varied experience includes such topics as grammar, blog content, book reviews, corporate communications, the arts, paint and coatings, real estate, the fire service, writing and literature, research, and publishing. An award-winning journalist, her work has appeared in several magazines, newspapers, and blogs, including the Chicago Tribune, Writer Unboxed, Women's Fiction Writers, Naperville Magazine, and Fresh Fiction. She also is the author of three contemporary women's fiction novels and is a member of the Chicago Writers’ Association. For more information on Karen, please visit www.karenberner.com.


Anonymous said…
It doesn't drive me nuts. I see it as strange, or as slang, perhaps, but it doesn't drive me nuts.
My family is probably getting tired of my grammar rants when we’re trying to watch football. ;)
Unknown said…
Ken Griffey, Jr. played baseball with his father and kept the same name plate on his jersey long after Sr. retired. I think it’s perfectly fine. It distinguishes players more and is very unique. If it bothers you that much then watch a team that doesn’t have a player with a suffix in their name.

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