With the bidding taking place for the current REA auction, I have been asked my thoughts on numerous items offered in the sale. With all of the great bats and jerseys being auctioned, one item keeps rising to the top of the question pile. The item is
LOT 1524: 1962-1965 Jim Brown Cleveland Browns Signed Game-Used Home Jersey
The questions I receive are along the line of…
“What do you think about the Jim Brown jersey”
“Do you remember the last time you saw a real Jim Brown Jersey”
“Tell me about the tear-away style”
“Where did the jersey come from”
Instead of replying to the same emails, I will answer the questions in this brief article.
The Jim Brown jersey is the most significant football jersey I have ever personally handled. Many of the most advanced football collections are void of a world class Jim Brown uniform. With this example being a tear-away, from a productive and award winning time of Brown’s career, and the style of his preferred long sleeve variety, this jersey will satisfy the most critical of collectors criteria. Imagery analysis allowed MEARS to favorably compare the font of the sleeves, front and jersey back to available images. The white, orange, white, orange, white (white dominant) pattern was also verified by various images. The long sleeve length was preferred by Brown and illustrated in many photos, which are posted in this article. Finally, the transparent “tear away” material can be compared to an accompanying photo in this article.
Dating from the 1962-65 period, it dates to some of Brown’s most productive seasons, and was possibly worn during a MVP season, which he won twice during the jersey’s issuance, 1962 & 1965.
1962 Highlights (MVP Season)
During Jim Brown’s 1962 MVP campaign, he scored 13 TDS and rushed for 996 yards. In addition, he caught 5 TD passes. Any jersey that can be associated with the 1962 season would stand to have a high probability of being a touchdown jersey. The Browns played 7 home games in this style jersey during 1962 and Jim Brown was elected to the Pro Bowl.
Statistically, Jim Brown had a better season in 1963. He scored 12 TDs and rushed for 1863 yards. In addition, he caught 3 TD passes. Any jersey that can be associated with the 1963 regular season would stand to have a high probability of being a touchdown jersey. The Browns played 7 home games in this style jersey during 1963 and Jim Brown was elected to Pro Bowl squad and designated as a NFL 1st Team All Pro.
1964 Highlights (World Champions)
His individual statistics decreased, but the Browns team pulled together and became the 1964 NFL Champions. While contributing to the championship run, Brown scored 7 TDs and rushed for 1446 yards. In addition he caught to TD passes. The Browns played 7 home games in this style jersey during 1964 and Jim Brown was elected to the Pro Bowl squad and designated as a NFL 1st Team All Pro.
1965 Highlights (Final MVP Season, last season in the NFL)
1965 was a year of change in the NFL. Jim Brown played his final season and the Green Bay Packers would end the season as World Champions and hold the title for three consecutive seasons.
Jim Brown had one of his finest individual seasons, tying his career high TD total with 17, and gaining 1544 rushing yards, a career second best. The Browns played 7 home games in this style jersey during 1965 and Jim Brown was elected to the Pro Bowl squad and designated as a NFL 1st Team All Pro.
There are several key physical characteristics of this Jim Brown jersey. One, is the presence of a complete crotch piece. Often this component is removed when the jerseys are re-assigned to practice use. This jersey remains original and intact as last worn by Jim Brown. Similar examples can be found in the Duke Hott collection museum featured on the MEARS website. There we feature King O’Shea jerseys of Brown’s players Tommy McDonald and Lou Groza.
It is often noted that a jersey has to exhibit team repairs to be considered heavily worn. This is not a universal truth and wear can manifest itself in additional visible manners. For example, examine the area of the crotch piece of this jersey. Along the button opening reinforced stitching, you can see areas of fraying. This was caused from the buttoning and unbuttoning of the piece. The game wear is visible when examining the stress and contact marks found on the fabric. This is especially visible when examining the area of the numeral surfaces. The use may be considered light by some when comparing the fabric to a dureene example with visible team repairs, but close examination reveals wear to the overall areas of the fabric of the body shell, crotch piece and numerals.
This jersey is manufactured from a “tear away” material. The design of the material is quite thin and has a transparent appearance. The name is somewhat deceiving, as although thin, the material is quite resistant to tearing. I purchased a King O’Shea college jersey made from this tear away material. With two of my staffers and myself engaged in a tug of war, the jersey did not tear. This is also a similar material to what the Chicago Bears wore at times. I have since conducted numerous research on the “tear away” material, and I can find no specific reference to the materials being names or marketed as such. It is my belief that the King O’Shea fabric was of a lighter, but stronger blend and had more to do with perspiration absorption than tearing away. With Papa Bear Halas being notorious frugal, the practice of having jerseys tear away during the course of a game is probably more versed in legend than fact. Nevertheless, this thin type fabric is photographically documented and examples from both the Browns and Bears have entered the hobby.
I have provided a close-up image of Jim Brown wearing a similar tear away jersey. Note how the writing of his T-shirt and shoulder pad markings can be seen through the materials.
Regarding the origin and history of the jersey, Dave Bushing and myself purchased this in the heart of Brown’s country at the 2007 National Convention in Cleveland. The seller of the item was offering items directly from the estate of a long time Browns employee. Included amongst his historic offerings were photographs from the 1946 AAFC team, Championship Brown’s footballs, correspondence, and this Jim Brown jersey. The memorabilia along with this Jim Brown jersey were offered for public viewing for the very first time at this show. The jersey was fresh and unmarketed in the hobby.
It is quite rare to purchase a jersey directly from the hometown of where the super star performed, but this was the case with this Jim Brown uniform. Basically this jersey came right from Cleveland to your wall, with one small stop at REA’s current auction.