The only game-worn Jim Brown helmet to ever hit the market will highlight GUU Auctions’ fall offerings scheduled to run now through Thursday, November 12.
Worn by Jim Brown while at Syracuse, it sat undisturbed for years but now what Game Used Universe Auction Director Robert Harvell calls "the holy grail of football helmets" is on the auction block and carries a minimum bid of $25,000.
The helmet was boxed and put away in the attic of a Syracuse home for 45 years before it was obtained by the consignors eight years ago. In recent years, it had been on loan to the College Football Hall of Fame.
The helmet was originally given to the father of a young Syracuse family by a close friend of former SU Head Coach Ben Schwartzwalder shortly after the 1956 season. It was a gift to an expectant father, who put it away for what he thought might be his new son, but instead turned out to be a bouncing baby girl. The helmet stayed tucked away where it remained until the daughter, now caring for her elderly father, discovered it just where he had put it more than four decades earlier.
"Jim Brown/44" is written in aged ink inside the helmet, with a manufacturer’s date stamp indicating a 1956 build. It’s believed other notations inside as well as extra padding indicate the helmet was recycled and issued to an incoming freshman player after Brown graduated, a typical practice during the era.
Brown’s Syracuse career was capped by a 1957 Cotton Bowl victory in which he ran for yardage, passed for yardage, returned kickoffs, returned punts, kicked off, kicked extra points and played defense while earning 21 of Syracuse’s 27 points and MVP honors. Prior to the 1957 Cotton Bowl game, Brown finished the regular season of his senior year with a performance for the ages in which he scored six touchdowns and kicked seven extra points.
He continued his football career with the Cleveland Browns and remains on a short list of the NFL’s all-time greatest running backs.
"This is an amazing piece," said Harvell of the Brown helmet. "It’s obviously a museum-quality item and the perfect way to kick off our new auction site."
The GUU auction includes hundreds of pieces of authentic sports memorabilia.