Advanced football collectors know how rare a quality durene, New York Jets Joe Namath jersey is to find. They just don’t exist. During the past decade, MEARS has examined exactly (12) Joe Namath uniforms. The examples varied from team (Jets & Rams), and grade (unable to authenticate to MEARS A8), but all of them had one common trait, they were all post 1973 examples with differing degrees of wear, provenance, and problems- and all made from mesh. 

For this auction, this is the only durene Joe Namath jersey ever personally examined by the staff of MEARS! Accompanied by exceptional provenance, after careful examination to verify originality and measure the degree of game wear, this example was awarded the coveted MEARS A10 grade. This 1970-73 Joe Namath New York Jets game worn jersey has it all and would have been worn during a stretch of Broadway Joe’s career where he added to many of the stats / records that made him the greatest Jets quarterback of all time. Highlighted features include: 

-Coveted durene body shell 

-Photo documented hand warmers preferred by Joe Namath for wear during cold weather games 

-Heavy game wear throughout 

– Period team repair 

– Home Kelly green style worn at home games at Shea Stadium 

– Provenance documenting its origin 

The lineage of this jersey is unquestionable. Per the letter of provenance, the jersey was originally sent to the Raleigh Athletic Reconditioning Company, presumably directly from the Jets team equipment manager. The jersey was stored in a box with additional game worn jerseys. Per the letter of provenance, it read, 

“I found the Namath jersey in a box of old used jerseys that were slated to be thrown out. The jerseys had been sent to Raleigh two decades before as it was a common practice for the teams to submit the prior season’s uniforms as guidelines for the next season. I rescued the Namath jersey and it has been in my possession until its current offering, (2/7/10).” 

The Namath jersey would have been supplied as a template for future game jerseys to be produced. This jersey served as the perfect specimen, as it contained both the crotch piece and the rare hand warmer. 

It is quite probable that the reason the jersey was never returned to Joe Namath and the Jets was due to the fact that during 1973, the Jets switched to Champion supplied mesh jerseys, and the durene examples were retired. The following report details physical traits of the jersey. 

Physical Description: The jersey color scheme is a Kelly green body shell with a white stripe and sleeve design. 3 ½” green tackle twill numbers appear on the sleeve. The sleeve numbers are original and show no signs of alteration when examined under magnification and with a black light. 

The cut of the body shell is specifically tailored to include a tapered crotch piece that buttons on the front with a three hole button pattern which attaches to a 6-holes set of white 4-hole buttons. It should be clearly noted that this is a unique design trait, as many of the jerseys bearing a crotch piece were produced in the same manner as all other jerseys supplied by the team’s manufacture. If a player requested a crotch piece, customized fabric was sewn to the straight bottom jersey. This is not the case with the Joe Namath example. The company pre-cut the body shell to include the long taper and extra fabric needed to form the crotch piece. 

A rare hand warmer has been factory applied to the front of the jersey. Accompanying photographs document Namath wearing hand warmers during cold weather. The warmer is made from the same durene fabric as the body shell and is lined with a light wool-like material. 

Numbering: Front (9”) and reverse (12”) numerals (#12) are single tackle twill that has been firmly anchored with a zig zag stitch. They are original and exhibit no signs of alteration. 

“NAMATH” (2 ½”) appears in san serif lettering in white tackle twill sewn with a zig zig stitch onto a durene nameplate. 

Sleeve variations: Namath was photographed wearing both cut and full length sleeves during the era. This example is cut in the white field of the sleeve with no presence of the bottom green striping color scheme present. 

Dating 1970-73: The dating was determined to be within the span of 1970-73 for the following reasons: –

Dating of the Sand Knit manufacturers tag (1969-73 per the MEARS tag database) –

Inclusion of the phrase “American Football Conference” was introduced during the 1970 season, after the completion of the merging of the AFL & NFL. –

Use of durene body shell can be verified through a variety of images as the style worn during the 1970-73 time span. 

1973 was a transition year, as the Jets wore both durene and the new mesh Champion supplied jerseys. Shortly after, the durene jerseys were abandoned for mesh only uniforms. Therefore, the combination of these traits along with intersecting compatible data dates this jersey to the 1970-73 era. 

Manufacturer (Sand Knit): Sand Knit was verified as the correct supplier of New York Jets jerseys during the 1970-73 era. Examples used for comparison: 1.

Mark Lomas 2.


Game Wear: Jersey exhibits heavy game wear throughout. Close examination of the body shell reveals an even, consistent compression of the fabric, caused from wear, laundry, and contact. 

Wear is evident on the sleeve numerals, with much more noticeable wear on both the front and reverse numbers. With respect to the front numerals, both numbers (12), are heavily puckered, a result of laundering and game wear. Additionally, both front numbers show signs of contact marks from the field, with staining still visible. The reverse numbers (12), show an even greater degree of game wear, with heavy puckering present and visible signs of staining and abrasions to the twill material. 

Final, examination of the crotch piece flap (area where the holes meet with the body shell buttons) reveal distinct signs of wear. The button holes are stressed, with fraying to the hole opening stitching. The interior fabric in that area shows signs of wear. 

Verification of Team Repairs: One distinct team repair is visible to the left of the reverse 1. Comparison of the images of the 1970-73 Mark Lomas New York Jets jersey reveals team repairs applied in a very consistent manner. The thread appears to be cotton and a slightly different thread than the shiny durene body shell fabric. The thread has a duller appearance. Image included. 

Provenance: Often lost to time, the lineage of this historic jersey has survived. Per the recollections of the original owner, the following statement was supplied to MEARS via a hand signed letter: 

Letter of Provenance, February 7, 2010 

In part, the original letter states, –

Joe Namath New York Jets professional model jersey, c.1970-73 –

Kelly Green Durene with white striping and sleeve determination –

Original “12” remains affixed to front, sleeves, and back of the jersey –

“NAMATH” nameplate remains original –

Sand Knit manufactures tag is found attached to the interior of the crotch piece –

Jersey shows evident usage and wash wear throughout, most noticeably to the numerals on both front and back, which show heavy wash and surface contact. –

Original hand warming pocket on the front of the shirt remains intact –

One period team repair to a hole on the back near the “1” in 12. 

The letter goes on to read (verbatim): 

I obtained the jersey described above in 1996 while working for the athletic manufacturer, Riddell. They had recently purchased my prior employer, Raleigh Athletic Reconditioning Company, which had been responsible for applying the
lettering & numbering on game used, professional model football jerseys. I found the Namath jersey in a box of old used jerseys that were slated to be thrown out. The jerseys had been sent to Raleigh two decade before as it was common practice for the teams to submit the prior season’s uniforms as guidelines for the next season. I rescued the Namath jersey and it has been in my possession unit its current offering. 


David Sprague 

Grading (MEARS A10): Based on the examination of the jersey, comparison of the tagging, manufacturer, imagery analysis, verification of the provenance, and inspection with a black light and magnified light source, after inspecting the 5 categories MEARS applies to the grading of game worn jersey, we found no reasons to deduct points, thus awarding this jersey a perfect grade of MEARS A10. 

With over 25 years of hobby experience with 12 years as an authenticator, to my knowledge, this is the first verifiable Joe Namath durene Jets jersey to enter the hobby during my professional career. The quality of this example cannot be understated and this specimen will be a prized possession for any world class football jersey collection. LOA Troy R. Kinunen / MEARS Auctions 

New York Jets Records Held / Accumulated in part during 1970-73 

• [1st] Most Passes Attempts, Game – 62 (vs. Baltimore, Oct. 18, 1970) 

• [1st] Most Pass Attempts, Career – 3,655 

• [1st] Most Pass Completions, Game – 34 (vs. Baltimore, Oct. 18, 1970) 

• [1st] Most Pass Completions, Career – 1,836 

• [1st] Most Yards Passing, Game – 496 (vs. Baltimore, Sept. 24, 1972) 

• [1st] Most Yards Passing, Career – 27,057 

• [1st] Most Touchdown Passes, Game – 6 (at Baltimore, Sept. 24, 1972) 

• [1st] Most Touchdown Passes, Career – 170