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    1970 Dick Butkus Game Worn Chicago Bears Jersey, MEARS A10--Photo Matched to 1972 Topps Card! Fascinating garment offers far more than its link to football royalty for the sophisticated game worn jersey collector, though it clearly goes without saying that Butkus remains to this day on the short list of the greatest linebackers in professional football history. He appeared in eight Pro Bowls during his nine seasons of NFL service--all with the Chicago Bears--and was twice recognized as the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year. The second of those two top rankings came the year he sported this home deep navy beauty.

    But the significance grows even larger when we recall that it was in 1970 that the American Football League was absorbed into the NFL, transitioning from a competing league to a partner conference, and bringing with it the "jersey name on back" that the entrenched NFL had until that point eschewed. In 1970, for the very first time, the entire National Football League featured surnames on every jersey.

    Bears team owner George Halas was notoriously stingy, and you'll see in photography from the 1970 Bears season that many of the jerseys are reconditioned from 1969, with removed NFL Golden Anniversary patches and the names on back practically grazing the collar in order to clear the high-set rear numerals. This jersey is somewhat of a rarity as it was manufactured uniquely for the 1970 season, a fact supported by the evidence that there is no remnant of 1969 patch removal, the rear numerals are set low enough to accept the "Butkus" below the shoulder seam, and they are applied directly to the jersey body rather than to a plate, which was standard operating procedure for the team from 1971 onward.

    The experts at MEARS characterize the game use as "Heavy" in their elite assessment, the evidence for that statement coming in the form of a scattering of team repairs and the softening and soiling of the white-on-orange tackle twill identifiers reporting "51" on front, back and sleeves, and the uniquely-fonted "Butkus" across the shoulders. Likewise the "King O'Shea" label in the tail is smooth and pliable from sweaty wear.

    A notarized letter of provenance from former Chicago Sting and Bulls equipment manager Willy Steinmiller reports that Steinmiller "obtained this Dick Butkus jersey directly from [George Halas' daughter] Virginia McCaskey. I picked this jersey up from Virginia's house in Des Plaines, IL, in 1971." Finally, we are pleased to report that the experts at Resolution Photomatching have determined this jersey to be the one Butkus is wearing in an August 20, 1970 photo shoot from which derived the image used upon his 1972 Topps #170 trading card (card is not included in lot, and is pictured only for reference). LOA from MEARS, A10. LOA from Heritage Auctions. LOA from Resolution Photomatching. Letter of provenance from Willy Steinmiller.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    October, 2018
    18th-19th Thursday-Friday
    Internet/Mail Bids: 17
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 4,225

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
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