In the NFL, the captain patch is worn by team captains. Captains are assigned their captaincy by the Head Coach, and with captaincy comes greater team-related responsibility.
For example, for the coin toss procedures, the team captains are the ones required to pick “heads or tails”.
They’re also tasked with either choosing to kick or receive the ball, and can even defer the option to the second half or choose an endzone to defend.
Also, the captain patch gives captains the responsibility of declining or accepting a penalty.
This power isn’t frequently seen, as most captains simply accept the majority of penalties, but there are certain circumstances where it might be more beneficial to decline.
What Do The Stars Mean?
The stars on the “C” patch simply symbolize the number of consecutive years that player has been named captain by the team.
There are four stars, and after four years, the “C” on the patch becomes gold.
As you can see by the pictures below, the patch on the left represents a captain that has designed the role for three consecutive years, while the patch on the right represents one that has been team captain for at least 5 years.
The captain patch is actually technically not required, as some teams like the Steelers, Ravens and Patriots elect not to wear them.
Other teams use weekly captains and therefore do not use a patch.
Each team has its own procedures on when to assign captaincy and a patch, and when to assign stars, and even how many captains they wish to designate.
It’s a bit of a mish-mash in the NFL, but the general rule above regarding stars is one that is codified in the NFL rulebook under rule 18.
Where Can I Buy NFL Captain Patches?
The NFL Shop actually does not sell officially licensed captain patches.
Even jerseys of captains do not have the captain patch sewn on!
Why this is the case is anyone’s guess. I’ve even tried contacting an NFL Shop representative and even they didn’t know what that’s about!
Therefore, the only way to purchase a captain patch is to head to Amazon and find a replica.
Luckily, there are quite a few.