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Game-worn Steelers jerseys put up for auction by Lelands

Joe Rutter
| Wednesday, March 8, 2017, 6:09 p.m.

Terry Bradshaw couldn't lead the Steelers to victory in a 1977 AFC playoff game in Denver, but the jersey he wore in that game is a winner to the online auction community.

Bradshaw's white road uniform with black numbers and gold lettering is the most popular among memorabilia being auctioned off as part of “The Pittsburgh Steelers Archive of Exceptional Jerseys.”

At midday Wednesday, Bradshaw's uniform had a high bid of $34,525. Bidding on Lelands.com continues through March 17. Representatives from the famed auction house were at Heinz Field on Wednesday to display several jerseys from the collection and provide an update on the auction that began last month.

Josh Evans, chairman of Lelands, called the collection the “Holy Grail of football memorabilia,” and said Bradshaw's jersey is the holiest of the items up for bidding.

“Everybody has their favorite, but if you look at the totality of the market, it's the Bradshaw (jersey),” Evans said. “There are very, very few authentic Terry Bradshaw jerseys.”

The Steelers are the first NFL team to partner with Lelands and did so because a portion of the proceeds go the the Chuck Noll Foundation for Brain Injury Research. Evans said the Steelers were chosen because they are the rare team that kept the old uniforms locked away in storage.

“Unfortunately, most teams kept things in the closet and let it somehow go out of the stadium, and they don't have anything,” Evans said. “This is a very, very special thing we're looking at.”

The exhibit presented by Lelands representatives Wednesday included a Franco Harris No. 32 road jersey worn Dec. 16, 1978, also at Denver; a Mel Blount No. 47 road jersey also from 1978; and a Ray Mansfield No. 73 home uniform from 1966-67.

As of Wednesday, the Harris jersey had a high bid of $17,716, followed by Blount ($9,075) and Mansfield ($5,500). Among other jerseys in the collection that were not displayed at Heinz Field, a 1978 Rocky Bleier road jersey had a high bid of $10,717 and 1973 home jerseys of Dwight White and L.C. Greenwood had $8,052 offers each.

Each item comes with a letter of authenticity from the Steelers. Lelands officials pored over pictures of Steelers games — a process called photo-matching — to verify the jerseys were worn in the games or seasons in question.

“We look for defects, one-of-a-kind changes in the shirt, a team repair of something that causes a rip or tear in the game,” Evans said. “Besides (the jerseys) coming from the Steelers, that is the perfect way to authenticate specific jerseys.”

The collection also includes game-worn jerseys from the 1960s for players Gary Ballman, John Hilton and Preston Carpenter, plus former Steelers of more recent vintage, such as Rod Woodson, Heath Miller, Hines Ward and Willie Parker.

Bids can be submitted by visiting lelands.com or calling 631-244-0077.

Joe Rutter is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at jrutter@tribweb.com or via Twitter @tribjoerutter.

Michael Heffner, president of Lelands, a New York-based memorabilia company, arranges Steelers jerseys that will be auctioned to benefit the Chuck Noll Foundation for Brain Injury Research on Wednesday, March 8, 2017, at Heinz Field.
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
Michael Heffner, president of Lelands, a New York-based memorabilia company, arranges Steelers jerseys that will be auctioned to benefit the Chuck Noll Foundation for Brain Injury Research on Wednesday, March 8, 2017, at Heinz Field.
Joshua Evans, Founder and Chairman of Lelands, a New York-based memorabilia company introduces the Steelers Archive Jerseys that will be auctioned off to benefit the Chuck Noll Foundation for Brain Injury Research at Heinz Field, Wednesday, March 8, 2017.
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
Joshua Evans, Founder and Chairman of Lelands, a New York-based memorabilia company introduces the Steelers Archive Jerseys that will be auctioned off to benefit the Chuck Noll Foundation for Brain Injury Research at Heinz Field, Wednesday, March 8, 2017.
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