For Merrill Shaffer, it was a mission.
As a youngster growing up, he basked in the glow of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Super Bowl successes under coach Chuck Noll. As an adult, he wanted a special item to capture the greatness of the black and gold teams of the 1970s.
Shaffer got Jack Ham’s autograph in 1994 and then set out on a quest to add the autographs of all 22 players who four Super Bowl rings for his favorite team.
It was easy at first. He landed several at card shows or personal appearances in the Pittsburgh area, but other players had scattered. Mailing it off was out of the question after he landed Noll and the majority of the players and couldn’t bear the risk of losing it.
He was lucky enough to secure the autographs of Dwight White and L.C. Greenwood, who died later at relatively young ages. When he met Noll, the helmet was almost ruined when he shook the marker too hard and gold ink splattered on it.
It all came down to one player.
Read about one autograph collector’s journey via this story on TribLive.