2023 February Finest Auction


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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 2/5/2023

Describing an NFL middle linebacker from the 1960s as tough is as redundant as calling one from the current era athletic. Yet, the late Ray Nitschke stood out like a man among boys during his 15-year run in Green Bay (1958-72), personifying the Lombardi Packers ethos of discipline, focus and ferocity that remains unmatched in league history. Grainy black-and-white images of a battered and bleeding Nitschke hovering menacingly over an even more battered and bleeding halfback came to immortalize him as the inspirational leader of one of the greatest defenses ever assembled. The first-ballot Hall of Famer played a central role in all five championships during Coach Lombardi’s dominant run, culminating with back-to-back titles to begin the Super Bowl era.

Presented here is a special late addition to this February Finest Auction: Ray Nitschke’s very own 1966 World Champions ring awarded following Green Bay’s emphatic victory over the Kansas City Chiefs in the first ever NFL-AFL Championship, a groundbreaking football game that would be known as Super Bowl I. The Jostens ring made of 14-karat yellow and white gold features a one-carat cut diamond on the face centered within a globe and encircled by "WORLD CHAMPIONS GREEN BAY PACKERS 1966” in raised lettering. One shank boasts "NITSCHKE" on the banner above a Packers helmet embossed with the team’s NFL title years of 1961, 1962, 1965 and 1966, followed by a football engraved with Nitchke’s jersey number 66 – how’s fitting is that! The other shank depicts the vintage NFL/AFL logo, the scores of the NFL Championship and Super Bowl, and a crown with the words "HARMONY - COURAGE - VALOR." The maker and “14K” are hallmarked inside the band, with the “J” now worn off. Overall, Nitschke’s size 14 ring (38 g) remains exceptionally well-preserved with just a few nicks around the edges. This prestigious piece of jewelry was worn proudly for decades by a true legend of the gridiron.

With sportswriters and fans alike believing the NFL's Packers to be superior to the AFL's Chiefs, the monumental match that served as the genesis of what is now a holy Super Bowl Sunday took place at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on January 15, 1967. The Packers – coming off a 12-2 record during the 1966 regular season and a thrilling 34-27 victory over the Dallas Cowboys in the NFL Championship – were led on offense by Bart Starr who threw for 250 yards and two touchdowns to earn MVP honors. Nitschke did his part on the defensive side, registering a sack and six tackles. Willie Wood’s third quarter interception of Len Dawson sparked a run of 21 unanswered points in the second half as Green Bay cruised to a 35-10 triumph.

Issued to perhaps the most glorified of all Green Bay Packers in arguably the most important football game ever played, this is easily one of the greatest Super Bowl rings from any era to be offered publicly. For perspective on its market value, only three other original (not remakes) Super Bowl I player rings have surfaced. We sold offensive lineman Steven Wright’s for a then-record $75K in 2012, Jerry Kramer’s went for $125K in 2016, and last year Fuzzy Thurston’s realized a price of $216,000. Baltimore Colts head coach Don McCafferty’s 1970 Super Bowl V ring set the all-time public record for any Super Bowl ring when it reached $300K at auction last year. When it comes to historical significance, however, there really is no comparison between that Colts ring and Ray Nitschke’s Super Bowl I ring – and it’s not even close.

This lot has a Reserve Price that has not been met.
Current Bidding (Reserve Not Met)
Minimum Bid: $50,000
Final prices include buyers premium.:
Number Bids:8
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