Super Bowl XXV was held at Tampa Stadium on January 27, 1991, and the event was memorable for so many reasons. Now deceased Pop singer Whitney Houston sang a rousing rendition of the National Anthem in front of 74,000 fans to kick things off. The New York Giants and Buffalo Bills played a hotly contested battle that wasn’t decided until the game’s final play; a missed 47-yard field goal by Bills’ placekicker Scott Norwood that went wide right enabled the G-Men to escape with a 20-19 decision and their second Lombardi Trophy in five years. It was also Hall of Fame linebacker Lawrence Taylor’s final Super Bowl as he retired three years later. Now collectors can get their hands on an extremely rare pair of game-worn cleats from “LT,” the very pair he wore that night in Tampa. The coveted cleats are now on the auction block at SCP Auctions. The company’s current Mid-Summer Classic online auction concludes on Saturday, August 22.
The white size 13 Nike/Pro cleats show considerable game wear and are covered with grass stains, dirt and even chunks of lime from the field littering the sides and bottom of both cleats. Even the original shoe laces remain intact. The consignor of the cleats is Taylor’s old Giants’ teammate and fellow linebacker, Gary Reasons. They teamed together in both of the Giants two Super Bowl victories and since their lockers were always right next to one another – Taylor wore No. 56 and Reasons wore No. 55 – they spent ample time talking shop before and after games. Reasons took possession of the cleats that same night in Tampa as Taylor looked at him and said, “I guess I won’t be needing these for a while” (he was headed to Honolulu to play in the Pro Bowl on a turf field), and left the pair in front of his locker. Reasons put them in his travel bag and has held on to them for the past 25 years. The lot includes a detailed letter of provenance from Reasons.
Online bidding is open to registered bidders only. The minimum starting bid for this item is $10,000. The auction is being conducted at SCP Auctions. For more information, call 949-831-3700. -Terry Melia
Jim Brown’s one-page rookie contract from 1957 sold at auction for $21,228 to an anonymous bidder Sunday morning. The auction drew nine bidders with a minimum bid of $7,500. SCP Auctions of Laguna Niguel, California, who handled the auction, said only Johnny Unitas’ rookie contract, which went for $30,000 in 2007, sold for more than Brown’s.
In the fall of 1951, Ollie Matson did everything right. As the punishing, 220-pound senior running back for the University of San Francisco, Matson – a 6’ 2” African-American – led the nation in rushing (1,566 yards) and scoring (21 touchdowns, 126 points) and guided the Dons to a perfect 9-0 season. Despite the team’s undefeated record, the USF Dons were not invited to play in any postseason bowl games. It was reported later that the Dons were not granted a bowl bid because the Orange, Sugar and Gator Bowls, all based in the South, did not consider inviting any teams that had black players. The jersey that Matson wore during that unforgettable season will now be going on the auction block at www.scpauctions.com starting April 8. A featured item in SCP Auctions’ online Spring Premier, the jersey could fetch $15,000 or more.
“This is a significant item in so many respects,” said SCP Auctions’ Vice President Dan Imler. “Not only was Matson a star running back who was clearly the best in the country that year, but the USF Dons actually turned down an eventual invite to the Orange Bowl after the selection committee would only allow them to play if they left their two black players behind. The team said no to that requirement, so this jersey represents both excellence on the field as well as honor among teammates.”
The circa 1951 green-and-white No. 33 nylon jersey, size 42, exhibits incredible wear and usage with noticeable fading and yellowing over time to go along with frayed numbers, rips and slight tears. A classic, vintage piece of sports memorabilia, the jersey symbolizes one of history’s groundbreaking African-American football players. It originates as a primary source acquisition from the esteemed Helms Athletic Foundation/LA84 Collection, a once prominent sports museum based in Los Angeles that originally opened its doors in 1936.
Matson, who died four years ago this week at the age of 80, went on to play 14 seasons in the NFL and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1972. Online bidding, open to registered bidders, will run for two-and-a-half weeks and conclude on Saturday, April 25. -Terry Melia
Despite the noise of the ongoing “Deflate-Gate” investigation and the raucous 12th Man chorus which was in full rally gear in Glendale, Arizona, on Sunday, the New England Patriots hunkered down to do what they do best: win a football game. The scene was Super Bowl XLIX and the AFC Champion Patriots were returning to the same field where they lost Super Bowl XLII to the New York Giants, 17-14. There were ghosts in the University of Phoenix Stadium – and you really had to wonder if God was, in fact, the 12th man for Seattle when wideout Jermaine Kearse came down with a miraculous, 33-yard circus catch on New England’s five yard line with 1:06 left on the clock. With the score reading 28-24 New England, the game seemed primed for yet another lead change.
But fate had a different ending this time around for the Patriots, who had lost their two previous Super Bowl appearances to the G-Men inside of the last two minutes of both games. On first down, the Seattle hand-off went predictably to their top running back, Marshawn “Beast Mode” Lynch, who ricocheted his way to about the 18-inch line. However, on second down and less than a yard to go for the go-ahead score, Seattle head coach Pete Carroll decided to shake things up and not hand the ball off to Lynch, but instead go for a slant route across the middle to wideout Ricardo Lockette. His rationale, if you didn’t know the play’s outcome, seemed almost plausible:
“It wasn’t the right match-up for us to run the football,” he said, acknowledging that the Patriots had stacked the line against the run, “so on second down we were throwing the ball really to kind of waste that play. If we score, we do. If we don’t then we’ll run it in on third or fourth down.”
And maybe run down the clock. A little. But a wasted play it was. The fate of the game changed on that very decision. Instead of the ball going for a completion and touchdown to Lockette or getting knocked down for an incomplete pass, it was picked off by a very astute rookie cornerback by the name of Malcolm Butler. The play started with 26 ticks on the clock. It ended with Butler landing with possession of the ball at about the one-yard-line. Twenty seconds showed on the clock. The momentum of the game had reversed course once again. Maybe this really was supposed to be a storybook ending for New England quarterback Tom Brady, head coach Bill Belichick and team owner Robert Kraft.
After the preceding two weeks of intense media scrutiny regarding deflated footballs, the Patriots were now heading back to the field to run out the clock. To win their fourth Super Bowl in 14 years. And that’s just what they did.
But what seems to be lost in all the finger-pointing in Pete Carroll’s direction is a missed blocking assignment on the fateful play by Seattle’s Jermaine Kearse. Instead of blocking his defender, Brandon Browner, back into Butler to take both men out of the equation, Kearse simply led Browner away from the play and seemed almost indifferent to the rookie DB lurking nearby. Butler watched Wilson’s eyes, made a break on the ball and corralled it just in the nick of time as he slammed shoulders with Lockette, knocking the receiver to the ground and collapsing himself.
If Green Bay Packers special teams player Brandon Bostick is taking all the heat for not blocking his man during Seattle’s unlikely onside fumble recovery late in the NFC Championship game, then blame needs to go in the direction of Kearse for the Super Bowl. He failed to do his assignment properly and allowed an unknown first-year player from West Alabama, a former batter fry cook at Popeye’s Chicken in Vicksburg, Miss., to become the unlikely hero of Super Bowl XLIX. Yes, Tom Brady was named the game’s MVP, but it was Malcolm Butler who made the game’s most valuable play.