It isn't often that a truly great vintage game-worn NFL jersey finds its way to the open market. Fortunately for collectors and fans, that time is now. Memory Lane Inc.'s Big Game auction will include a fabulous 1978 game-worn, autographed Pittsburgh Steelers jersey once donned by Hall of Famer Franco Harris.
The jersey, which carries a minimum bid of $20,000, is one of the featured lots in the company's first-ever all-football memorabilia auction that opened January 22nd and closes fittingly on February 6, just hours before kickoff for this year's Super Bowl. Given Harris' place in football lore, the allure of a Hall of Fame caliber jersey and the scarcity of such an item, it's likely the jersey will be among the most sought after pieces of pro football memorabilia to come up for sale in some time.
Awarded a stamp of approval from noted Pittsburgh Steelers' jersey expert Denny Esken, the road white durene jersey bears Harris' famous #32, is tagged for use in 1978. It was most likely worn in the colder, second half of the season when the Steelers reeled off six straight wins as they moved into position for another Super Bowl victory. Early in the season, the team wore short-sleeved jerseys when the weather was accommodating. With the arrival of November's chill, they switched to a full-sleeve look. The jersey being offered by Memory Lane is the full-sleeve jersey with built in reinforcements.
Great use is demonstrated on the shirt, highlighted by five team repairs. The numerals on the back are scuffed from the pounding Harris took at the hands of would be tacklers. Tail tagging includes a year tag and swatch from NFL jersey maker Medalist Sand Knit. The company tag is glue-affixed, while the year tag is sewn into the jersey. At a more recent date, Franco Harris signed the jersey and added three notations, "Super Bowl XIII Champs", "Super Bowl IX MVP" and most importantly "Game Used, 1978". Franco Harris has put his "certificate of authenticity" in gold ink.
For millions of fans, the Harris Steelers jersey is a symbol of an entire era. It was worn by a key member of a franchise that was feared, admired, and respected. The Steelers had no weak spots on either side of the ball.
For those who followed the league in the 1970s, there were other good teams. Some were even great for a short period of time. But there was only one 1970s dynasty and that was the Pittsburgh Steelers. While their 'Steel Curtain' defense got much of the credit, the Pittsburgh offense was a well-oiled machine. Bradshaw. Bleier. Stallworth. Swann. And of course, Harris. When the wind and cold began to settle in, coach Chuck Noll turned to his veteran running back to wear down the opposition and keep the chains moving. With members of 'Franco's Italian Army' cheering him on, Harris did just that.
1978 was a special season for the Steelers. They finished 14-2 in the regular season then beat Denver, and Houston in the playoffs on the way to beating the Dallas Cowboys 35-31 to claim another Super Bowl title. Harris played a key role, rushing for over 1,000 yards for the sixth consecutive season.
This jersey represents not only the greatness of a Hall of Fame player, but an entire franchise. It would be the centerpiece of any quality football collection. Auction closes this Saturday, February 6th. To register and bid in the Big Game Auction, visit www.MemoryLaneInc.com or call 1-877-606-LANE (5263).