New Jersey Devils hockey fans would likely love to believe the ubiquitous athletic item was inspired by their state team, but alas, the history is a bit more complex than that. The garments are actually named for the United Kingdom island of Jersey ... well, sort of.
Warm sweaters with a tight weave were traditionally produced on this island for centuries as protection for its seamen. Americans adapted the term to apply to thick wool uniforms intended to protect football players in the early 1900s. As time passed, athletic "jerseys" gradually had less to do with their original namesakes and are now, instead, typically lightweight tops made of nylon or spandex. But "jersey" still means sweater in the U.K., while Canadians call sports "jerseys" "sweaters" [source: Mancini]. Confused yet?