Vintage Steelers jerseys said to be the 'Holy Grail' of sports memorabilia
February 16, 2017 8:50 AM
Franco Harris game-worn jersey from 1977-78.
Terry Bradshaw's game-worn jersey from the 1977 divisional round.
By Ray Fittipaldo / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Jersey swapping between NFL stars has become commonplace across the NFL. Ben Roethlisberger asked for and received a Tom Brady jersey last fall. Antonio Brown swapped jerseys with fellow NFL stars Dez Bryant of Dallas and O’Dell Beckham Jr. of the New York Giants.
This is a relatively new phenomenon, and it certainly didn’t take place in the 1970s when the Steelers were in the midst of their dynasty. Back then, Steelers players not only wore the same jerseys from game to game they wore the same jerseys from year to year. Equipment managers would patch and sew jerseys that were damaged in games and players would wear the same jerseys for years.
That makes Steelers game-worn jerseys “the Holy Grail” of NFL memorabilia, according to Josh Evans of Lelands Auctions.
“They’re the hardest jerseys to find in the NFL,” Evans said. “A lot of teams would just get new jerseys every year. The Steelers used them over and over again.”
For the first time, the Steelers and Lelands are teaming up to sell game-worn jerseys. Fans can bid on a jersey Terry Bradshaw wore in the 1977 AFC divisional round playoff game against Denver. There is a Franco Harris jersey that was worn in a December 1978 game in Denver and a Mel Blount jersey that was worn throughout the 1978 season.
In all, there are 14 Steelers game-worn jerseys up for auction. Evans said he has been after the Steelers for years to partner with him, but this is the first time game-worn jerseys provided by the team are being auctioned off.
“We’ve been knocking on the door for years, and the Steelers finally decided to do it,” Evans said. “Very few teams have protected these types of things for all this time. The Steelers protected them under lock and key. It’s like finding King Tut’s tomb. It’s all preserved.”
The auction opened Wednesday and runs through March 17 at lelands.com. The opening bids for the Bradshaw and Harris jerseys were $10,000. The opening bid for Blount’s jersey was $7,500.
Evans said he would not be surprised if the Bradshaw and Harris jerseys sold for more than $100,000.
“We’ve never had a Bradshaw jersey,” Evans said. “We’ve only had one Jack Lambert jersey all these years. These items are very special.”
As of Thursday morning, the highest bid on any of the Steelers jerseys was $12,100 for the Bradshaw jersey.
Also up for auction:
• A Ray Mansfield home jersey from the 1966 and 67 seasons.
• A Dwight White home jersey from the 1973 season.
• An L.C. Greenwood home jersey from the 1973 season.
• A Rocky Bleier road jersey from the 1978 season.
• A Rod Woodson road jersey worn in the 1993 AFC wild card game against the Chiefs.
• A Gary Ballman road jersey from the 1962 season.
• A Preston Carpenter road jersey from the 1962 and 63 seasons.
• A John Hilton road jersey from the 1966 and 67 seasons.
• A Hines Ward home jersey from the 1998 season.
• A Heath Miller home jersey from the 2006 season.
• A Willie Parker road jersey from the 2006 season.
To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to
email@example.com and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner.