Super Bowl ring to be auctioned

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- A former Green Bay Packers lineman whose teams won the first two Super Bowls will have at least one of his championship rings auctioned off to recover some of the $1.7 million the federal government says he owes in back taxes.

Fuzzy Thurston, 77, played for the Packers from 1959 to 1967. Federal marshals have seized his Super Bowl II ring, and authorities are trying to track down his other Super Bowl ring along with other memorabilia to auction off in accordance with a court order.

Heritage Auctions of Dallas said the only items it has so far are Thurston's Super Bowl II ring, his 1960 Packers helmet and two 1960 footballs signed by members of the Packers and coach Vince Lombardi.

"We hope to reach out to fans who might wish to purchase the material to return it to Thurston," said Chris Ivy, the auction house's director of sports auctions.

The ring will be auctioned at the National Sports Collectors Convention in Rosemont, Ill., on Aug. 4. The helmet and the footballs will be available in the Fall Heritage Sports auction, which closes Nov. 11.

The Super Bowl ring is expected to fetch at least $20,000.

Other rings from the first two Super Bowls have also been sold in recent years. Running back Paul Hornung's Super Bowl I ring fetched about $40,000 in 2002, while former offensive lineman Steve Wright sold his Super Bowl I ring last month for $73,409.

Messages left at Thurston's Waupaca home weren't immediately returned. Green Bay lawyer Owen Monfils, who represented Thurston in some of his tax cases, told the Green Bay Press-Gazette he was certain Thurston didn't owe "nearly as much as the government claims."

The tax fight stems from Thurston's post-Packers days, when he and his business partners opened a chain of restaurants. According to a federal complaint, Thurston and the others withheld federal income taxes from employee salaries but failed to turn all the money over to the Internal Revenue Service.

After a court fight, Thurston was ordered to pay about $190,000 in 1984. With interest, the debt now stands at just over $1.7 million, according to court documents.