Manning jerseys banned by Colorado school district for gang ties


Peyton Manning’s popularity in Colorado has been immediate, and intense.

But if you want to support him, don’t wear his jersey to school in Greeley.

One family is upset because their 8-year-old son was forced to change out of his new Manning jersey because it doesn’t comply with the school district’s dress code designed to minimize gang activity.

The Greeley-Evans School District has banned the numbers 13, 14, 18 as well as their inverses (31, 41 and 81) because of the ties those numbers have to area gangs.

Pam Vanatta told CBS4 she was “speechless” that her son Konnor couldn’t wear the jersey his grandmother bought him as a gift.

“I knew that Greeley had a gang problem but I didn’t think in any event it should affect someone that’s in third grade,” she said.

School officials say no one objected to the policy — which also bans students from shaving notches in their eyebrows or displaying red or blue bandanas — until Manning signed with the Broncos.

Now, all of a sudden, it is a big deal,” district spokesman Roger Fiedler told the Denver Post. “Until yesterday there haven’t been any concerns raised about our dress code.

“It’s unfortunate that it has become a big deal. It is not a new policy. It has nothing against [the Broncos]. Mr. Manning is a great role model. We would hope people would understand it has nothing to do with him or the Broncos.”

The numbers 13 and 14 are linked with the Sureño and Norteño gangs, and the 18th Street gang is invoked in the policy as well. Fiedler said the policy has been on the books since the 2008-09 school year, and has been effective.

“Since we did put this in place, we have had a reduction in the reports or incidents of students displaying gang attire and affiliation,” he said.

Ostensibly, the ban also covers wide receiver Brandon Stokley (14), cornerback Omar Bolden (31) and tight end Joel Dreessen (81), though they aren’t pushing nearly the amount of merchandise Manning does.

And as tempting as it is to run local bureaucrats up the flagpole for over-regulating innocent school kids, the reality is that gang violence is a much greater concern than whether little Konnor is able to show his pride in his favorite player — which he can do as soon as he gets off the bus.

And if Konnor’s mom’s not OK with that, tell her to invest in a Champ Bailey or a Matt Prater jersey next time.

52 responses to “Manning jerseys banned by Colorado school district for gang ties

  1. Problems that you didn’t have with Tebow….If one of the kids sported the 15 jersey the school district at most would think it was associated with some kind of rowdy church gang.

  2. What is the potential negative ramification of an 8 year-old wearing a number 18? Does the school actually think he is in a gang or would be the target of gang violence? I have just as hard a time seeing this kid being in a gang as gangs roaming the streets picking off people with Manning jerseys.

  3. Sad. Gangs are even influencing the dress codes of elementary schools. We have a school district in CA that had to ban Mickey Mouse apparel due to a local gang adopting him as their symbol. No lie.

  4. It could have been manning last year or Kurt Warner the ban has been in place it’s more for the middle school and high school kids but is a district ban

  5. Interesting that National Anthem singer-extroidenaire, Queen Latifah, would be rocking a (bedazzled) #18 NY Giants jersey last night when, you know … nobody on the team has that number.

  6. this almost makes me as sad as the day my high school banned mini skirts short shorts halter tops and jeans that showed girls assets damn what do these kids have left to look forward too at school

  7. I’ve seen Manning giving gang signs at the line of scrimmage. The Raiders are thrilled with this school policy.

  8. While this may seem as news to many of you, this isn’t anything new. Many schools have banned entire teams and in my city, don’t allow any type of jerseys.

    Nonstory IMO

  9. Schools are places of learning. That learning includes reading, writing and arithmatic, but it also includes social learning.

    Here, we are teaching children that if an authority figure wants limit freedom of expression because of fears that expression could be abused to convey violent or socially harmful messages, that authority figure may do so. I am not ok with that, and no one here should be either.

    Beyond that, if this is a public school, children do not leave their rights at the schoolhouse door. The courts have long gotten it wrong in how permissive they are towards public school dress codes and how much they’ve backed off of their initial stand for the First Amendment in Tinker v. Des Moines Public schools. Living in a free society isn’t easy, and part of it not being easy is that people still have their freedoms even when they aren’t exercised the way we would wish.

  10. Although I see and understand why the policy is in place. When does this sort of thing end?

    So if you’re 13 or 14 can you not go to school? What happens when the gangs choose a new number, object or phrase to adopt?

    This is a policing issue not a garment issue. Once you start this stuff it can spiral so deep before you know it there will be like three items you can where.

    Inform the parents let them decide which way to take it. Personally if I knew there were some issue you wouldn’t have to mandate it to me I’d protect the child without any district intervention, but don’t impose rules like this unless you’re going to open up your checkbook and buy my kids clothes.

    Stay out of my role as a parent. Otherwise topics such as this can be never ending.

  11. eaglesfan94 says:

    Sep 6, 2012 2:06 PM

    I wonder how schools are going to start controlling kids next?

    As a teacher and parent I can tell you with 100% conviction that kids do need to be controlled. All you have to do is look at the countless instances of bullying in our country to see that kids don’t always make the best choices and therefore shouldn’t be allowed to make ones that could be irreparable at all.
    Good for the school. Stick to your philosophy. If Konnor’s mom doesn’t like it she can pay tuition to send him someplace else.

  12. @irishstout

    that’s a nice theory if we didn’t live in a society of blame. it’s always somebody’s fault. there are no more accidents. something should have been done to prevent this will be the outcry if something happens to this little boy.

    I’m not saying i don’t agree with you, but until people can accept the consequences of their actions, american institutions will continue to throw common sense out the window. schools will continue to enforce policy like this. think about this. a school should be able to provide a safe environment. if outlawing the number 18 helps with that, what is the big deal?

    i’m a former teacher, saw it for years.

  13. Peyton Manning and gang activity? I simply don’t see a connection. He’s not one of that players that come to mind when I think “gangster”.

  14. In England you’re not allowed to wear any team jerseys or anything with a team logo on it in any public places like pubs, restaurants etc. Only place you can wear your jersey is to the game. That’s one way that they try to eliminate the crazy hooligan riots that used to occurr way too often.

    I guess we don’t have it that bad.

  15. BONUS: the year 2013 and 2014 have likewise been banned, so students will graduate sooner. Hey Colorado, try banning handguns instead of haberdashery, and see how gang violence drops. Of course now I’m being “UnAmerican”. That’s allowed: I’m Canadian. We have moderate gun control, so we are of the Devil, natch.

  16. That’s ridiculous. The schools KNOW who the kids in the gangs are. Are we allowed to just kick them out? Nope. We have to keep them, and force everyone to work around them. Idiotic.

  17. Anyone who’s ever been to Greely knows that it’s a pretty sketchy place.
    Maybe all the armchair quarterbacks who haven’t been there should stay silent on the issue and let the district decide what’s best for its schools.

  18. Or just stop paying taxes right? I mean she does have a say and as a teacher you should be aware of that. #DumbStatement.

    School systems go overboard with a lot of control. Recently my sister in law was told she couldn’t get a waiver for some sort of preventative inoculation that they wanted students to have. They flat lied and said it was required. Then when caught made it impossible to get the form.

    School systems need to teach and leave the parenting to the parents.

    Dangerous road, implementing and allowing school districts any control that should default to parents as it just gets worst in my opinion.

  19. This is very much a non story lol. Maybe because it’s happening in Colorado. In elementary school 25 years ago down here in Southern California I remember not being able to wear Raider clothes or hats in school. There were other teams you couldn’t wear either, but I was a Raider fan. You couldn’t wear it into many malls or other businesses either. It sucked, but it was what it was. I’m sure little Konner will be just fine.

  20. These things are taken a bit too far, much like the PC crowd that gets “offended” by anything they don’t care for or understand. There is (arguably) merit in standardized school uniforms but that does not seem to be the case here as only specific items are banned. The reduction cited as proof the policy is effective is critically flawed. The reduction is in the reports of people displaying gang attire/affiliation, not in gang related incidents. How many of the previous reports were simply overreactions to completely innocent fashion choices? What would these officials do if the gangs decided to wear polo shirts and blue jeans? Ban those as well? Stop impacting everyone else and just deal more harshly with the actual offenders. Lazy policies and poorly aimed discipline do nothing to solve the actual problem. All this is is culpability avoidance in case something were to happen.

  21. jjrs89: You’re right Peyton does look like he’s wearing a polo shirt under his uniform jersey. But, he’s not. The new Nike shirt on a lot of the teams have a contrasting color in one of the fabric pieces that make up the shirt neckline. The Redskins have a contrasting burgundy piece that make them look like they are wearing polo shirts. Other teams don’t have the contrasting color piece. I don’t know why but it bugs the hell out of me. It’s goofy looking.

  22. i live in denver and find this VERY funny. i am a raiders fan and there are bars here that will not allow any raiders apparel saying that is is gang attire. yet all colorado rockie apparel with the CR which the crips wear is ok.
    hilarious they are not letting kids wear the manning jerseys!

  23. This is the most insanely overthetop abuse by school officials I’ve heard of yet. Why don’t they just have the kids wear uniforms if they are so worried about the significance of certain “special numbers”…ooh? Peyton Manning and Kurt Warner are two of the most squeaky clean examples of healthy American values and positive role models kids have to look up to. Sports are a positive influence on kids and banning the wearing of football jerseys containing the numbers worn by well known greats who represent everything gangs AREN’T …is offensive to the majority of kids and their parents who are good students, good citizens and haven’t even a passing knowledge of gangs! Kids will individuate in whatever way they feel they need to and if it is by rebelling against such rigid and wacked out extreme rules they will. Given the choice between showing up in a Peyton jersey (I’m not a Broncos fan) or dressed in goth…it’s just superficial. What is important is the kid inside the clothes and the job the teachers and parents are doing in teaching the kid good values!

  24. How is keeping kids from wearing certain numbers going to help control gangs from showing their signs? They will always come up with another color or symbol/number to represent. Its a damn jersey, let the kids wear what they choose.

  25. All schools should just be uniform schools. Then everyone has to wear the same thing and you don’t have to deal with this crap at all. My daughter goes to a (public) uniform school and I hated it at first but now I see that it really does cut down on all of the cliqueishness and bullying and making fun of kids because they don’t have the right clothes. Plus it saves me a ton of money/hassle come school shoppin time. Win/win!

  26. They should be banned simply becasuse they are hideous…especially those awful bright orange things.

  27. Not just pro teams, a 5 year old in Oklahoma City was told to turn his Michigan jersey inside out for the same reason (gang affiliation concern). The problem is not with the gang affiliation awareness, the problem is with teachers and administrators that completely lack any common sense and the ability to apply a rule fairly.

  28. @kpf1981

    The big deal is in principle. I wasn’t in teaching for years (though I have taught at the college level). I was in law for years. The law reasons by analogy to prior precedent, the law reasons from principles established in earlier scenarios.

    And the principle here seems to be that we can preemptively halt the freedom of expression for young people, regardless of whether or not that particular young person’s actual speech is demonstrably harmful, regardless of whether that particular young person has any demonstrated history of behavior problems. If the same kind of speech could be misused by others. That is a dangerously expansive principle. THAT is what the big deal is. And before you ask, I am a father, and I do not want my son learning that it is ok to curtail our freedoms so long as someone has a good reason for it, like trying to make us all safer. You’d think the “make us all safer” excuse is one free peoples would have gotten wise to by now.


    Brave New World, no? Why, I bet we could solve all society’s problems just by instituting municipal dress codes, or national dress codes. After all, jerks and bullies are found in the adult world as well as the child world, and we’d all save money on our wardrobes then.

  29. The problem is the gangs in the area…..why not worry about cleaning up this activity instead of blaming the school…..misplaced blame as usual….

  30. Wow. How about just wear a different shirt. And to those who are saying that Manning is the opposite of a gangster, the rule is banning ANY #18. It has nothing to do with Manning himself. My wife is a first grade teacher and she had a kid in her class that was involved with a gang. His parents were in one and they used him as a drug runner. So to say that elementary students aren’t involved in this type of activity is naive and blind to what unfortunately is happening in our society.

  31. I guess it didn’t occur to the school district to just go ahead and ban the gangs and then follow thru with any means necessary to make sure that happened.

  32. I am so happy for areas that do not have serious gang problems. They may not need to be proactive in their schools. I teach in a “small” town of about 50,000 that has a serious gang problem. Certain garments are off limits to help minimize inter-gang “activities” at school. For those who say don’t take it down into the elementary school level, consider this: just today at lunch I had to intervene with a kindergarten student who was flashing known gang signs to older students.

  33. Only in America!!!

    I understand this at a highschool level, but not for a third grader. C-R-A-Z-Y!!!!!!

    How many 3rd grade gangsters do you know ?

    Fix your schools!! Stop worry about what the 3rd graders are wearing and focus on what they are not learning.

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