“This is a very significant piece,” Goldin Auctions president Ken Goldin said. “Bidding for this will definitely surpass $130,000.”
If that proves to be true, it would be the highest-priced football helmet sold at auction in history. A helmet worn by former Notre Dame defensive end Rudy Ruettiger sold at auction for $126,500 last year. Ruettiger’s life and career were the basis of the 1993 film Rudy.
The highest priced Super Bowl helmet sold at auction currently was worn by former Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison in Super Bowl XLIII. Harrison returned an interception of Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner 100-yards for a touchdown in the Steelers’ 27-23 victory. It was the longest interception return for a touchdown in Super Bowl history. The helmet was purchased for $53,775 in 2012.
The Manning helmet was bought by collector Eric Inselberg, who said he purchased it from Giants equipment manager Joe Skiba. Inselberg filed a lawsuit against Manning, Skiba, and the Giants in 2014. The lawsuit alleged a conspiracy and accused Giants staff (on Manning’s say-so) of scuffing helmets and staining jerseys to make them appear game-worn.
Inselberg became suspicious when he saw the Giants claiming another helmet which was donated to a New York museum (and later the Pro Football Hall of Fame) was the one worn by Manning in Super Bowl XLII. He alleged these helmets were manufactured by the Giants.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame changed the description on their website from a helmet worn by Manning in Super Bowl XLII to just a Manning-worn helmet after they realized the helmet’s authenticity was being disputed. Two other collectors later joined the lawsuit after helmets marked as game-used couldn’t be matched to photos of any game that season.
The lawsuit was settled in May shortly before the trial was set to begin.
Goldin is providing photo matching from two different companies to verify that the helmet bought (and sold) by Inselberg matches photographs taken during all four quarters of Super Bowl XLII. Bidding began Monday morning on Goldin’s website and will conclude with a live auction at the National Sports Collectors Convention in Cleveland on Aug. 2.