Ahead of Sunday’s big game between the Denver Broncos and Pittsburgh Steelers, some students in Greeley, Colo., are upset over an anti-gang policy that prohibits them from wearing Peyton Manning’s No. 18 jersey.
The future Hall of Fame quarterback, who the Broncos signed during the off season, has given fans hope the team can build on its unlikely playoff drive of a year ago, and jerseys emblazoned with his name and number are a huge seller throughout the state. But how can a Bronco fan express his devotion if the jersey remains in a drawer?
“They told me I couldn’t wear 18 anymore because it’s a gang number and I had to take it off,” said Konnor Vanatta during an interview with FOX31 Denver on Tuesday.
Vanatta, a third grader in the Weld County School System, was disappointed to learn that the number 18 is considered to represent gang affiliations and is not allowed on clothing inside county classrooms.
“I’m pretty upset the schools have come down to this and I think they need to start paying attention to the education the children are getting rather than what they’re wearing,” added Pam Vanatta, the student’s mother.
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A spokesperson for Weld County District 6 explained the policy has been around for more than three years and applies to the numbers 13, 14,18, 31, 41 and 81.
“We’re Broncos fans ourselves; it has nothing to do with that. We’re just wanting to set a consistent solid, example,” said district spokesperson Roger Fiedler.
Not to be discouraged, Vanatta wore a No. 61 jersey to school on Tuesday to protest the policy.