Sunday, July 3, 2011

Fuzzy's Loss is Somebody's Gain

By now, most Packers fans know that Fuzzy Thurston's Super Bowl II ring is being auctioned off to satisfy part of a $1.7M debt.

Heritage Auctions, who is handling the auction, has released its auction preview.

Heritage Auctions
1967 Green Bay Packers Super Bowl II Championship Ring Presented to Frederick "Fuzzy" Thurston. It's often been theorized that Thurston's lack of Canton credentials is due only to the Hall of Fame's resistance toward enshrining yet another figure from a team featuring the most members in NFL history. But few would dispute that Fuzzy had been a leader both on the field and off of it during his nine seasons at Lambeau Field, paired with Jerry Kramer in the famed Packer Sweep, which beneficiary Paul Hornung decreed as "the best play in football" and Vince Lombardi called his "bread and butter."

Today Thurston remains one of the most beloved players ever to wear the green and gold, a man who epitomized Lombardi's mantras of teamwork and the unyielding pursuit of perfection. The hard-nosed guard did not abandon the city that embraced him after hanging up his cleats, opening a string of restaurants and taverns where he would hold court nightly, regaling patrons with tales of the Ice Bowl and his six World Championships.

Presented is the very ring he earned for his participation in the very last game of his career, likewise the final Championship claimed by the iconic Lombardi. The story of its current availability is a sad one, the sale mandated by the United States government due to an unpaid $1.7 million federal tax bill accrued by the popular Packer.
Heritage Auctions
The design is refreshingly elegant and understated compared to its recent Super Bowl XLV counterpart, the trio of diamonds on its face (1.50 carat weight total) representing the team's three consecutive Championships. They are set in a football-shaped green stone, edged by raised text reading "Green Bay Packers World Champions." The left shank announces the scores of the Ice Bowl (NFL Championship) and Super Bowl with crown imagery, a Packers helmet and the word "Challenge." Right shank announces "Thurston 63, NFL/AFL, Run to Win." Interior band is stamped "Jostens 10K," and measures to a size 13.25.
Heritage Auctions
One of the most important post-war Championship rings ever to be placed upon the public auction block, this Super Bowl II representation from a key figure in the team's ability to "Run to Win" should bring the most devoted Packers fans to the table. We expect a battle of wills that would make Lombardi himself proud.
They're right about this being a sad story. There's a certain movement amonst Packer fans for somebody — the team? — to buy it and return it to Fuzzy. Personally, I think the bigger shame is that this could have been taken care of for a fraction of that decades ago. It's also a shame because Thurston has nobody to blame but himself.

The action goes back to the chain of restaurants Fuzzy co-owned called "the Left Guard." The original location, in Menasha, was opened before the 1963 season. The restaurant was popular enough to be expanded into multiple locations, including Madison and Milwaukee.

The IRS action dates back to sometime betwee 1978 and 1980. The restaurant withheld taxes from its employees' paychecks but then failed to turn that money over to the IRS, landing the employees in trouble with the IRS and opening an IRS case against Fuzzy and his partners. His partners settled their obligations years ago, but Fuzzy kept fighting. Not the right move. And now it's come to this.

The bidding on this Super Bowl II ring opens on or about July 16th, and runs through August 4th.

No comments: