Part of what MEARS does at times is to evaluate work on an item that other authenticators have done. For this article, I will try to explain the process we used to determine whether a jersey was represented as it was sold to the submitter in regards to how the accompanying letter of opinion read. This puts a little different twist to our process. Meaning, if the jersey is submitted to us, we examine the jersey from scratch and apply our own techniques and methods. Then, our opinion is produced. For this example, we were asked to verify or reject the opinion of the letter provided with the item. Our results were as follows:
MEARS hologram #: 304065, submitted September 12th, 2006.
While asked to review this circa 1991-97 Wilson 49ers Joe Montana jersey, we had to establish several facts that had been provided to us by the original authenticator, whose letter accompanied this jersey. The original letter provided by the authenticator stated this was a 1991 Joe Montana Game Used/Signed 49ers Home Jersey.
While evaluating this as a 1991 Joe Montana game worn jersey, we found the following points that were not consistent with that stated opinion.
1. According to www.footballdb.com, Joe Montana did not play any games during the 1991 season. This determined this could not have been a game worn jersey, which would have seen field time. With field use eliminated, MEARS tried to determine if maybe it was a jersey made for Montana when he suited for the sidelines. No mention of the fact Montana did not play in a game was mentioned in the letter. We were unable to find a photo of Joe Montana on the sidelines during the 1991 season.
2. Although Wilson was the supplier of 1991 49ers jerseys, the Wilson logo was to appear on the middle of the three sleeve stripes on game issued/worn jerseys. We began our research with 1991 as our start point because the Wilson tag was from the 1991-97 era, and the NFL neck shield logo that was present first appeared in 1991. The jersey style could not be 1991 as there was no Wilson logo applied to the sleeves. This can be verified by Getty Image 52694019. Therefore, it was unlikely Joe Montana would have worn this jersey on the side lines as it did not match what his teammates were wearing, although there is always a possibility that his jersey was manufactured different than his teammates. But, as we will demonstrate later, for the 1992 season, Montana did indeed wear identical jerseys as his teammates while playing in one game for the 1992 season.
3. Incorrect placement of Wilson flag size tag was also an issue when examining this jersey as a possible circa 1991-92 issue. Two common examples examined in the MEARS database showed the flag tag was positioned to the right edge of the tag, not underneath like this examined example. The placement of the flag tag alone may not have been a point of concern, but was noted when taken into consideration with all of the other inconsistencies this jersey presented. The examples were:
Brown, #96, flag tag on right side
Jones, #84, flag tag on right side
The examined Montana jersey had the flag tag attached directly underneath the bottom of the jersey.
4. Next we examined the jersey to see if it was issued for the 1992 season. Joe Montana only played one game during 1992. www.footballdb.com verified that during week 17 of the season, Joe Montana played the final scheduled game versus the Detroit Lions. His stats were 15 for 21 with 2 TD’s. We encountered the same Wilson sleeve style issues when examining this for 1992 issuance. Getty images showed that the Wilson logo appeared on the sleeve above the stripes. All examined images of quarterback Steve Young, Jerry Rice, and all lineman showed this placement of the Wilson sleeve manufacturing logo. The examined Joe Montana jersey was lacking the Wilson logo, thus again not matching any of the jerseys worn by teammates. Getty image #353214 shows Montana on the sidelines during the December 19th, 1992 game versus the Lions. The Wilson sleeve logo is clearly present. Thus, 1992 was eliminated as a year of issuance for this to be a team issued/worn Joe Montana jersey due to lack of Wilson sleeve logo.
5. Finally, we explored 1993 as a year of issuance to see if this was a jersey manufactured for Joe Montana for the 1993 season before he was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs. Getty image showed that the 49ers again wore jerseys with the Wilson logo on above the stripes on the sleeves. Therefore, the jersey could not have been issued to be worn during the 1993 season.
In conclusion, with the lack of Wilson sleeve stripes, this jersey cannot be attributed to have been team issued to be worn by Joe Montana during the 1991-93 seasons. Also, it is quite unlikely that this would have been his 1991 side line jersey as the Getty Image for the 1992 Joe Montana side line photo showed Montana was outfitted in the same team issued jerseys as his teammates. All of the measurements and final letter of opinion can be accessed by MEARS members in the jersey letter of opinion section, which will be debuting November 31st. Currently MEARS members can view this final grade, (unable to authenticate) in our jersey trade index section.
Troy R. Kinunen