Football Hall of Famer Fred Biletnikoff made magic happen on the gridiron, whether he was catching touchdown passes from Raiders’ signal-callers Daryle Lamonica, George Blanda or Ken Stabler. At 6’1” and 190 lbs. with just average speed, Biletnikoff used precise route-running and sure hands to pull down 589 receptions for 8,974 yards and 76 touchdowns during over the course of his 14-year NFL career (1965-78) spent entirely with the Raiders.
Biletnikoff was the Most Valuable Player of Super Bowl XI. Since 1994, the Biletnikoff Award has been awarded to college football’s top wide receiver. After starring for Florida State, the 22-year-old was selected by Oakland in the 1965 AFL draft and pulled down 24 receptions in his rookie campaign.
Available at auction is Biletnikoff’s Oakland Raiders game-worn road jersey from his rookie season. He wore #14 in ’65—Oakland went 8-5-1 with a second-place finish in the AFL West—before switching full-time to his more prestigious #25. No #14 jersey of Biletnikoff’s has surfaced before in the hobby, making this one his earliest and finest example ever offered. It very well could be the first jersey he ever donned as a professional.
It should be noted that both Pro-Football Reference and a 2/16/2015 Raiders.com news article state that Biletnikoff wore number 14 in 1965 and 1966; however, MEARS, calls this Biletnikoff’s 1965 rookie jersey according to their records.
The white durene Sand-Knit shirt, displaying excellent wear, comes in size 46 and includes proper manufacturer’s tagging on the crotch flap, a piece to the garment that was in vogue at that time. Sporting black tackle twill numbers (“14”) on the front, back and both sleeves, with his last name “BILETNIKOFF” across the back also in black lettering, there is plenty of fraying and puckering evident. The front and back numbers appear to have significant sweat staining. A small tear on the left sleeve and some brown/red spot staining are also evident.
The jersey comes with provenance from a former Raiders locker room assistant who worked under longtime equipment manager Dick Romanski. A detailed letter of provenance is provided from this former employee, who is still in touch with Biletnikoff and got him to pose for a photo with his rookie jersey.
Jersey comes with a Letter from MEARS with perfect A10 grade.
The jersey is available in the current SCP Auctions auction which ends June 10.