A show about a magic Jersey that jumps teenagers into the bodies of famous athletes that was crafted by the wizard Merlin?
Yep, we are talking about arguably the best live-action show in the history of the Disney Channel. The problem is most people don’t remember or have never heard of it because Disney has kept the show in the vault since 2004.
‘The Jersey’ was a sports-based comedy sitcom that was based on the Monday Night Football Club books written by Gordon Korman. Based in St. Louis but shot in Canada, ‘The Jersey’ was about a group of teens Nick Lighter played by Michael Galoeta (who passed away in 2015), his cousin Morgan Hudson (Courtnee Draper), and their two best friends Coleman Galloway (Jermaine Williams) and Elliot Rifkin (Theo Greenly). The group is known as the MNFC, a club that gathers every Monday Night during football season to watch the big game of the week.
After Nick’s grandfather passed away, the family gets together to see who gets his belongings. Morgan is given his prized football while Nick is stuck with his old college jersey. Little does Nick know that Jersey has a special secret. While Nick is hanging with his friends watching the Monday Night Football game, the jersey jumps Nick into the body of Steve Young and Nick finds himself playing in the football game he was just watching. The rest is history.
‘The Jersey’ was a great device to introduce young audiences to the world of professional sports and link them with the biggest names in the late 90s sports scenes. Some of the athletes who appeared on the show included Terrell Davis, David Robinson, Tony Gonzalez, Shannon Sharpe, Donovan McNabb, Michael Strahan, Peyton Manning, Tony Khan, Kurt Warner, Stephon Marbury, Sergei Fedorov, Randy Johnson, and others.
Disney’s ‘The Jersey’ was used as a show that introduce teens to sports such as basketball, football, baseball, figure skating, and even extreme sports. The running lesson for the show involved the MNFC learning to work together to solve their problems and empathizing with the importance of teamwork.
In the episode entitled “Team Player”, when Nick and Morgan can’t agree on how to work with each other on a school project, the jersey jumps them into the bodies of Kevin Millwood and Eddie Pérez of the Atlanta Braves, forcing them to work together in order to get out of the innings against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The show was a series of subplots loosely revolved around sports that gave kids the small taste of the fantasy of being their favorite athletes. As the show went into the later seasons, they tried to dig deeper into the legend of Jersey itself as well as giving our main character a bit more development. The MNFCs hijinks were always interrupted by Nick’s sister Hillary (Brianne Prather) and her nosy BFF Willa (Cheselka Leigh) who the gang tried to keep the secret of the Jersey from.
It wasn’t until the show attempted to explain the origins of the Jersey that the concept went off the rails. The jersey was exposed as a magic cloak that was crafted by the wizard Merlin. Years later, a shadow government organization that may or may not be the Men in Black, is led by a man named Blackstone who may or may not be David Carradine. The shadow organization hoped that they can steal the powers of the Jersey for their own personal gain…this was one of the last episodes Disney produced, the rest of them aren’t nearly this convoluted.
‘The Jersey’ wrapped up production on the show in April 2001. The final new episode aired in March 2004 before the entire series was taken off the air just three months later. Since the summer of 2004, ‘The Jersey’ hasn’t been seen anywhere on a Disney-backed platform. Reruns of the series were never shown, even with the launch of the Disney+ streaming service, the show remains unavailable for viewing.
There hasn’t been much written about the series in print or digital media. If you were to google ‘The Jersey’, you would get more results related to MTV’s ‘Jersey Shore’ than the show itself. Even Gina Carano hasn’t been scrubbed off the face of the earth as hard as Disney has memory holed ‘The Jersey’ from existence.
It’s quite sad that this is really the only article on the internet dedicated to this day. This show along with ‘So Weird’ was one of the biggest shows that defined the Disney Channel in the late 90s and sadly in 2022, barely anyone remembers this show exists.
It is a disgrace that Disney has kept this show buried in the vault like one of their 1940s cartoons. Fans continue to beg on social media to put the show on the Disney+ service but the house of mouse has yet to respond to the demand.
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One thought on “Retrospective: Disney’s ‘The Jersey’ (1999)”
I agree. It’s disappointing that Disney sort of swept this movie underneath the rug so quietly. I grew up watching it and, while it was a bit cheesy, it was still a fun show to watch as well as seeing all the sport stars make guest star appearances was a treat.