As long as I can remember during my experiences collecting football memorabilia, specifically Super Bowl pieces, people have always told me that the toughest publication commemorating the big game was the Super Bowl V program.
The stories have varied anywhere from the rational to the unimaginable. Lately, during my pursuits on eBay and scouring the great number of major sports memorabilia auctions, I’ve started to notice that Super Bowl V programs might not be as hard to come by as some of the other early “single digit” Super Bowl publications, particularly programs from Super Bowls I, II and III.
“It’s one of the more difficult programs to get,” said Mike Hattley, owner of Touchdown Treasures. “As the rumor goes, one of the trucks going to the game was filled with programs, got into an accident and went into a ditch. Well, a ditch in Miami is the Everglades, so the publications were destroyed and never delivered. So whatever amount of programs they had on that truck, and I am assuming it was many a thousand, were all destroyed, so there were fewer than any of the other Super Bowl programs made available. That story has been around as long as I’ve been around, so is it actually true? Well, you’d have to ask the truck driver.”
That’s not bad advice, so I opened up a copy of the Super Bowl V program and proceeded with my investigation. The only potentially helpful information was on the copyright page, where I discovered the book was published by “David A. Boss.” Unfortunately, a Google search for Boss didn’t turn up any contact information, so I decided to place a call to former NFL employee Dan Schmidt to get his take on the Super Bowl V program.
“There were several current programs laying around the league’s storage facilities, and in my former capacity at the NFL, there were often times when I was called upon to liquidate things,” said Schmidt, who now works as the auction manager for Upper Deck. “There were always the guys saying, ‘Let’s see if Dan can sell it.’ I think we had pallets and pallets of Super Bowl XXXIX programs, so I thought I would see if I could make some complete sets of Super Bowl programs. In my pursuit to make sets, I came to the conclusion that there are very few Super Bowl V programs. The notion of putting together sets was quickly killed by the lore of the Super Bowl V program.”
Schmidt is referring to the stories he’s heard about why Super Bowl V programs are supposedly so rare, but his recollection of the actual details are somewhat foggy.
“I can’t remember the specifics of the actual story of why there are supposedly so few of these, but I heard they were thrown in a lake or something,” said Schmidt. “Basically, I was given the impression that they were destroyed and that they just were much rarer than the other Super Bowl programs.”
The Feb. 1, 2003 edition of the San Francisco Chronicle even had a blurb about the Super Bowl V program legend.
According to the article, “The Super Bowl V program is especially difficult, because the semi-truck that was carrying many of the programs to Miami reportedly ran off an icy highway, crashed and burned, drastically altering the existing supply.”
All right. All this supporting evidence sounds like it should be enough to put this story to bed, right? Wrong.
I decided to call Gil Brandt, one of the NFL’s true historians and former vice president of player personnel for the Dallas Cowboys (1960-89), who I figured should know quite a bit about Super Bowl V considering his Dallas team took on the Baltimore Colts in that particular championship contest.
When asked if the myth was true, Brandt said, “I don’t think it was Super Bowl V. I think it was II. I was at Super Bowl II, and it was in Miami. Tex Schramm and myself ended up getting a program, but supposedly the truck turned over and all of the programs were laying all over the highway, and consequently, there aren’t that many of them around.
“Both games were played in Miami, but I don’t remember a shortage of program for Super Bowl V.”
Dennis Jose, owner of Chicagotix.com shares some of the same beliefs as Brandt.
“A lot of people think that it’s the rarest of all Super Bowl programs, and in my experiences buying and selling hundreds of Super Bowl programs in the last dozen years, that has not been the case,” said Jose. “A lot of people believe that it (the Super Bowl V program) is the rarest, but it is not on the list of the couple of Super Bowl programs that are the most difficult to obtain.
“Whether it’s legend or that fact, I’ve heard the same thing repeated with about the same frequency regarding the scarcity of Super Bowl II program . . . the truck rolled over and a significant portion of the cargo was damaged and didn’t make it to the stadium. These reports seem to apply in about an equal number regarding Super Bowl V and Super Bowl II programs.”
So now I’m really confused. Did a program truck tip over on the way to Super Bowl II, V or maybe not at all? We might never know.
* * *
The Super Bowl memorabilia myths don’t end with the program perplexity, but it also goes into the niche of tickets, particularly the unbelievable desirability of the Super Bowl XII full. In fact, a PSA 8 version of a full from the 1978 game realized $16,464 in a December 2004 Mastro of the Mark Lewis Ticket Collection.
Mike Heffner, president of Lelands.com, commented on the unprecedented sale price.
“It surprises me, but it doesn’t shock me,” said Heffner. “Like anything else, it basically comes down to supply and demand, and there are a lot of guys who collect Super Bowl tickets. And the XII basically doesn’t exist. I never had one, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen any for sale other than that one in the Mastro sale.”
The man who purchased the ticket in the Mastro auction, Al Glaser, weighed in with his thoughts.
“They just aren’t out there,” said Glaser, owner of gradedtickets.com and superbowlticketcollector.com. “There are only eight or nine that have been graded by PSA. Super Bowl XII was in 1978, so that’s 30 years ago and that’s all that’s surfaced. I have no idea what makes it different than any other Super Bowl full tickets, where there are hundreds of them available, other than it was Denver’s first Super Bowl appearance. The Denver fans had a tremendous turnout. But, beyond that, I really don’t know. It’s just kind of one of those little mysteries.
“Somebody mentioned to me that they know they had three of them because the guy and two of his buddies were planning on going to the game and then they couldn’t go and didn’t use the tickets, but he can’t find the tickets. Again, this is pre-eBay, where most of this stuff people threw away. It’s not like programs. Tickets are a consumable, and at the time, people felt they didn’t have a collector value.”
Brandt, who wears a Super Bowl XII ring on his finger, had a first-hand account from the game, but he still isn’t clear on why the hobby cherishes the ticket so much.
“I don’t have any clue why there are so few unused tickets from that game,” said Brandt. “But I know we had a full house. I will say that it did look like there weren’t any unoccupied seats.”
Hattley is also baffled about why they are so rare.
“Well, it definitely is true that it is difficult,” added Hattley. “I never understood the logic on Super Bowl XII fulls, personally, but because it was the Broncos first time into the Super Bowl, basically, everybody in the Colorado area got as many tickets as possible to go to the game. Dallas is also always a good draw, but it wasn’t necessarily the Cowboys that were the main reason there were virtually no no-shows. You can find stubs, and they’re cheap, but trying to find a full from that game is a problem.”
David Kohler, president of Sotheby’s with SCP, whose auction house is currently selling a full run of Super Bowl unused tickets, has sold a few Super Bowl XII tickets and said they always bring big money.
“We’ve handled a lot of full tickets over the years and sold a lot, and obviously Super Bowl XII is one that’s rarely found – one here, one there,” said Kohler. “We’ve had some Xs, some XIs and some XIIIs, but the XII just doesn’t pop up. Who knows? I just don’t have an answer for that.”
Once again, Jose shies away, to a degree, from the consensus.
“It’s widely believed that the full Super Bowl XII ticket is the least common,” said Jose. “It is not the least common – II and III are. But the majority of collectors believe XII is, and the majority of collectors think the Super Bowl V program is the rarest.”
I guess it’s fair to say that the stories in the hobby take on a life of their own sometimes, especially
Check out Chris Nerat’s blog, Gavel Chat at: gavelchat.sportscollectorsdigest.com. Readers may reach him at Chris.Nerat@fwpubs.com or call him at (800) 726-9966 ext. 452.