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Are The Los Angeles Rams Looking For Mentally And Physically Tough Players Who Play Smart And Love To Compete?

Back of a man wearing a shirt with the Rams logo on it and it says "MENTALLY AND PHYSICALLY TOUGH PLAYERS WHO PLAY SMART & LOVE TO COMPETE"
via Andrew Siciliano on Twitter

Making t-shirts is not always easy. I run the Defector merchandise store, which mostly sells t-shirts, and for every easy idea that takes me 75 seconds and sells hundreds of shirts, there are others that I agonize over for months because the concept or execution is just not right. I’m still working on NASCAR-style tees for Kelsey and Alex, and one day I will finally finish it. I promise!

But I like to think I’ve gotten better since I first started. I had never made a t-shirt before 2020 and now we’ve sold 100 Devin the Dugong tees; whatever this does or doesn’t say about this site’s readers, it does seem like progress. What’s great about that shirt is that all the revenue they generate goes to us. Devin doesn’t even get a cut, because he’s a contract worker. (Defector Media is a worker co-op, but our bylaws specify that dugongs can’t join.)

The Los Angeles Rams also sell merchandise, presumably at a much higher rate than we do. But that work is mostly outsourced on their end, and while it's not their primary business any more than it is ours, they are also not really in the t-shirt selling business like Defector Media is. Another difference between the two companies is that I try to keep the slogans on our shirts pretty short. For example, I made a shirt that says Quit Your Job. For an example of the opposite approach, the Los Angeles Rams made the shirt photographed at the top of this article, helpfully photographed by Andrew Siciliano.

I really enjoy how one shirt makes sense and the other is absolutely bonkers. “Model the Way” is not a particularly good slogan, but I think I get it. Players should “model the way” for other teammates with hard work and dedication, especially in the early days of training camp when motivation is otherwise hard to come by. The other shirt’s text is just … a sentence fragment? “Mentally and Physically Tough Players Who Play Smart & Love To Compete” makes almost zero sense as a t-shirt. It’s not quite one of those Women Want Me, Fish Fear Me parody hats but it’s damn close. My editor David Roth compared it to the autogenerated shirts that populated Facebook a while back: “YEAH I’m a WELDER and a LIBRA who won’t apologize for being DYSLEXIC but we can be friends unless you CRITICIZE MY HYUNDAI.” But at least in those cases the shirt is a completed thought—I am this kind of guy and I will fight you, more or less—and not just some coaching words shoved in around an ampersand.

I must also thank Twitter/X user @DangerLegz, who noticed the odd design:

Are these press-on letters, like you might find on an 1980s tee ball team’s t-shirt? Who made this shirt? How was it made? I guess the front side of the shirt could explain more. I have emailed a Rams PR person to ask if they can shed any light on the situation.

In other news, check out this Rams shirt from one of those bootleg sites:

Now there’s a shirt I’d like to see on the Rams sideline.

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