A gift Joe Namath promised to a young fan turned out to be a Hall of Fame-worthy artifact.
Heritage Auction Galleries’ Sports Collectibles division will present the helmet worn by Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Namath during his heroic Super Bowl III underdog victory in their upcoming May 3rd Signature Auction to be held in Dallas, Texas. Bidding starts at $50,000.
“This is arguably the most significant football artifact ever to reach the auction block,” said Chris Ivy, Director of Heritage Auction Galleries’ Sports Collectibles division. “It’s a key piece from one of professional football’s most celebrated and inspirational games, worn by one of America’s most beloved sports figures.”
The helmet was a gift from Namath to his close friend’s eleven-year old son, who had asked the quarterback for his chin strap late in the 1968 season. Namath explained to the boy that he was too superstitious to change anything that might affect the Jets’ winning ways, but suggested, “How about this? After the season is over, you can have my whole helmet.” And, just as he did with his famous pregame guarantee of a victory over the heavily favored Baltimore Colts, Namath kept his word, inscribing the exterior shell of the white and green helmet, “Andy, hope you have as much luck with this as I have. Your pal, Joe Willie Namath.”
Aside from being one of the hobby’s most important game used pieces, Heritage believes it is also one of the most strongly documented. “When Namath initially refused the youngster’s chin strap request, he provided him with a football signed by the entire Jets team. Namath added a personal inscription reading, ‘Andy, After the Super Bowl you’ll have my helmet, Joe Willie Namath.’ This ball is offered as part of the lot, as well as letters of provenance from Namath himself, and from his good friend and former teammate Ray Abruzzese who delivered the helmet to the boy at his home in Philadelphia,” said Ivy.
A signed February 23, 1984 letter on Namath’s personal letterhead reads, in part, "This is to certify that all the equipment, such as helmets, shoes, footballs, pictures and other personal belongings are authentic as well as the signatures. I gave[them] to my close and personal friends from Philadelphia, Andrew Vanore and Andrew Vanore, Jr. whom I have known since my last years at Alabama and my early years with the Jets."
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