Jerry Kramer, Mike Ditka and other NFL legends announced the start of an online auction and donation drive to aid retired NFL players in dire need. They have donated personal items to raise money for the Gridiron Greats Assistance Fund. Click here to visit the auction.
The fund, which was founded by former Green Bay Packers star Jerry Kramer, will provide direct or indirect financial assistance to retired players who are disadvantaged or indigent. The fund will also provide services to players who need help with medical or domestic issues.
The unique online auction started Feb. 1 at JerryKramer.com and ends Tuesday, Feb. 13, at 11 p.m. EST. New items will also be added while the auction is in progress. People who do not want to bid on the auction items can make a cash donation at JerryKramer.com or by calling 1-800-708-1078. New York-based Steiner Sports Marketing has assisted Gridiron Greats Assistance Fund on this project.
The items were personally selected by the players; some have even customized items or donated personal time to create once-in-a-lifetime experiences that fans can bid on.
"We need the public's help; the players need your help," said Ditka. "This is a tremendous cause. I am asking that people pay a little bit more than they normally would, so we can put it in a fund to help these players in dire need. Remember who it's going to. It's going to the guys who started football. Not the guys who are making the money off it, the guys who started it. "
The auction features many one-of-a-kind items and experiences, such as Mike Ditka's 1975 NFC Championship ring, Joe DeLamielleure's gold bracelet given to him by OJ Simpson, a hand-drawn play by Vince Lombardi, and much more. A long list of items and experiences has been compiled of the many contributions by people such as Harry Carson, Willie Davis, Archie Manning and sons Eli and Peyton, Dwight Clark, Gale Sayers, Jan Stenerud, Merlin Olsen, Deacon Jones, Sam Huff, Lem Barney, Conrad Dobler, Don Shula, Marv Levy, Larry Csonka, Garo Yepremian, Mel Renfro, the New England Patriots Alumni group and more.
The idea to start the GGAF came after Kramer's missing Super Bowl I ring materialized in a Mastro Auctions sale in April 2006. Mastro Auctions returned the ring to Kramer once it learned the item was stolen from Kramer 25 years earlier. After returning the original, it was decided to auction Kramer's replica ring to raise money for these players. It sold for $22,000, nearly double the amount experts predicted, becoming the initial capital used to start the GGAF.
"When we first heard about this initiative to aid retired players in need, we immediately wanted to get involved and help. I am proud to donate our resources and help this extraordinary auction succeed," said Jared Weiss, President of Steiner Sports Memorabilia.