In 1979, Sports Illustrated selected fellow Pittsburgh sports icons Terry Bradshaw and Willie Stargell as their Sportsmen of the Year, picturing the two together on the magazine’s December 24-31 cover. In the classic photo, they are each holding the helmet that the Steelers legendary quarterback wore most of the 1979 season. After that SI photo-shoot, which took place on Nov. 21, 1979, Bradshaw gifted the helmet to Stargell as a token of their friendship and mutual respect. Featured here is this very helmet straight from the late Willie Stargell’s personal collection. It is photo-matched not only to that memorable SI cover shot, but also throughout the ’79 regular season by the experts at Resolution Photomatching.
Coming off his lone MVP season, Terry Bradshaw another stellar campaign in 1979, throwing for 26 touchdowns and a career-best 3,724 yards in guiding Pittsburgh to a 12-4 record and another AFC Central title. The Steelers rolled through the playoffs with three double-digit victories, capped by their 31-19 triumph over the L.A. Rams in Super Bowl XIV. It was the team’s second straight Lombardi Trophy and their fourth of the decade thanks largely to the Louisiana gunslinger. Bradshaw repeated as Super Bowl MVP with another outstanding performance as he threw for 309 yards and two TD’s.
The offered game-worn helmet is photo-matched to three ’79 regular season home contests, all won by the Steelers: Sept. 23 vs. Baltimore, Oct. 22 vs. Denver, and Oct. 28 vs. Dallas. In a 17-13 win over the Colts, Bradshaw threw for 249 yards and 2 TD’s. In a 42-7 romp over the Broncos, he tossed two more scores and passed for 267 yards. Against the rival Cowboys, Bradshaw effectively managed the game with 126 yards and no turnovers in the 14-3 victory. Resolution Photomatching has conclusively matched the helmet to 9/23/79 and 10/28/79, and believe it was "likely worn from the start of the '79 season until 11/21/79."
The Rawlings helmet has a black shell with a long gold stripe decal over the top and a lone Steelers decal on the right side. Bradshaw’s No. “12” appears in white over the forehead and again at the rear. The “R” logo and size “7 3/8 – 7 1/2” is stamped on the back along with a “7-77” manufacturing date on the opposite side. The ear pads and interior leather cushioning are still intact with significant wear. The chinstrap is missing and the black facemask has become detached over time from the broken plastic clips. Both the mask and clips can be properly restored. Plenty of contact marks and paint transfers on the shell demonstrate the punishment Bradshaw took for his club. In the SI cover shot the helmet has three yellow stars affixed to the front. These stars were added for the photo-shoot to symbolize the yellow stars on the Pirates 1970’s era “Pillbox” caps, a tradition started by Stargell. Over the years, the stars fell off. One of the stars remains and was put back on in a different location; however, it is obvious where the stars were originally placed.
Comes with LOA from Resolution Photomatching with the conclusive, side-by-side photo-match from 10/28/79. Letter of Provenance from Margaret Weller-Stargell.