Many fans agree that no sport can match the pageantry and tradition of college football. From the elaborate tailgate spreads to the marching bands and cheerleaders to the rabid fans imploring their favorite teams to pull out a crucial victory, it is the event around which Saturdays are built for millions of fans across the country. People schedule family trips and weddings around football schedules – it’s that important.
Serious sports collectors don’t just acquire gems representing their alma maters, and this week’s Five for Friday takes a look at an array of items that will be available Aug. 19-20 in Heritage Auctions’ Platinum Night Sports Auction in Dallas. The memorabilia in this event, which kicks off a week before the start of the 2017 season, casts a spotlight on top individual players and some of the elite schools in the country.
1. A 1976-79 Billy Sims Game-Worn Unwashed Oklahoma Sooners Jersey, MEARS A10 (est. $15,000+) commemorates one of the greatest running backs in the history of college football. Long before Adrian Peterson made a mockery of opposing defenses, Sims set the standard for Sooner ball carriers, running past, over and through opponents from 1975-79, ultimately piling up 4,118 career rushing yards – a school record that still stands four decades later – and the 1978 Heisman Trophy.
2. The six Poe “brothers” – who actually are second cousins, twice removed, of author Edgar Allan Poe – are featured in this Circa 1899 Poe Brothers of Princeton Football Multi-Signed Oversized Original Photograph (est. $8,000+). The Poe brothers, who played for the Tigers between 1882 and 1901, each signed the mat in black fountain pen ink.
3. The highest individual honor in college football is the Heisman Trophy, presented annually by the Downtown Athletic Club in New York City. This 1978 Billy Sims Game-Worn Oklahoma Sooners Helmet – Photo-Matched to Heisman Season (est. $8,000+) goes back to the year the game-breaking runner brought college football’s highest honor back to Norman in a season in which he rushed 231 times for 1,762 yards and 20 touchdowns.
4. Arguably the most famous nickname for a group of players, who played at one of the most storied programs in the country, is commemorated in this 1924 The Four Horsemen of Notre Dame Signed Photograph (est. $4,000+). The moniker came from an article by sportswriter Grantland Rice, who referred to Don Miller, Elmer Layden, Jim Crowley and Harry Stuhldreher as “Death, Destruction, Pestilence and Famine.” A Notre Dame student publicity aide made sure the name stuck when he pitched the idea out loud at halftime of the Army game in the press box as a tie-in to the 1921 Rudolph Valentino Movie The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. The photo is autographed, probably in the 1940s or 1950s, by all four players, who are shown in the picture on horseback while in their uniforms.
5. Among the most popular stories are when a player overcomes such extraordinary odds that he thrusts himself or his team into the national spotlight despite circumstances that suggest such fame should be out of reach. One such player is remembered in this 1994 Steve McNair Robinson Award Salesman’s Sample Ring ($2,000+). Despite playing for a relatively unknown school in Lorman, Mississippi, “Air McNair” was so prolific that he finished third in the voting for after the 1994 season and was chosen third overall in the 1995 NFL Draft by the Houston Oilers.
Written by: Steve Lansdale
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