One was a hard-nosed running back from the Midwest. The other was a quarterback who grew up in the East.
Bill Brown’s daughter married the quarterback along the way and now, items from the collection of both former NFL players are up for sale.
Heritage Auctions is offering items from both in its current catalog, including game-worn jerseys, helmets, game balls, autographs, awards and other memorabilia.
Brown, who passed away in 2018, was drafted by the Chicago Bears out of Illinois in 1961, but spent all but that first season with the Minnesota Vikings, becoming one of the team’s most durable and popular players. A four-time Pro Bowler, he was known as “Boom Boom” for his hard charging running style.
Several of Brown’s purple #30 Vikings jerseys from the 1960s and 70s are among the headliners.
There are also helmets, including a 1960s gold model Brown wore during at least one of his four appearances in the game.
Team-signed footballs, his Illinois letterman sweaters and even a Mickey Mantle signed and (profanely) inscribed baseball from a long ago golf tournament in which both participated.
“He was the toughest football player I ever knew,” says Gannon of his father-in-law. “I remember watching him when I was a kid – long before I knew his daughter – and I will always remember how hard a guy he was. He was tough, no-nonsense – very much a ‘three yards and a cloud of dust’ guy. He dented helmets. He cracked them. He broke them. And those jerseys were iconic – those colors, those rips, those tears. They are all really cool pieces.”
Gannon married Brown’s daughter Shelley. The first University of Delaware player to appear in the Super Bowl, he spent 18 years in the NFL with Minnesota, Kansas City, Washington and Oakland.
Gannon, then carved out another career as an NFL analyst after retiring before the 2005 season.
With the Raiders, he was the 2002 NFL MVP and played in Super Bowl XXXVII following a season in which he threw for 4,689 yards and 26 touchdowns.
Eight jerseys, two game-worn helmets, nine lots of game-used cleats, autographed footballs and several of his offensive playbooks–now signed and inscribed with various messages –are part of the catalog.
“I wanted to explain why these are personal things to me,” he says. “I lived with that playbook, for instance: I took it to the hotel, on the road, took it home. There are notes in there I wrote – some of the sayings Jon had and the things we did. If you’re a football person or coach and get hold of those, there is a lot of learning in there. I didn’t give away any trade secrets.” He laughs. “But these are unique things. And that’s why I wanted to tell the story.”
Gannon, by the way, is a collector. Not football things, though. Instead, he collects antique advertising material: “neon signs, Coke signs, porcelain signs.”
And, as a collector, he knows well the reluctance – the resistance – that comes with parting with a piece.
“If you’re a collector, it’s in your blood,” he related. “If you’re a collector, you never want to sell anything. For me, the fun part was the hunt – going to a swamp meet, an auction, going through someone’s collection. To me, that’s a lot of fun. It’s about going to shows with buddies, about making connections.”
tems from both collections will be sold on Friday, Nov. 18, the second of a three sessions in the Heritage Fall Sports Signature Auction.