A helmet valued between $500 and $1500 was stolen during a burglary back in 2013. It’s an old helmet brandishing the classic leaping Dolphin logo with aqua and orange stripes going down the middle, but what makes it so valuable are the multiple big name signatures on it. These include signatures from Mercury Morris, Jim Kiick, Garo Yepremian, plus Hall of Famers Larry Little, Jim Langer, Larry Csonka, and not to mention Don Shula himself. But as many of us can understand, the sentimental value a family member puts into something can make it priceless.
The helmet belonged to the late John Sparrel. It was a gift from John’s family, who all pitched in to buy it for him in 2012. It broke John’s heart when it was stolen a year later, he then died only two months after. John’s son, Mike Sparrel, said he even remembered “going down to those Dolphins games and actually seeing the 1972 winning team.” when interviewed. Later at the Boynton Beach Police office he went on to say “We never thought we’d see this helmet back.”.
Once the helmet was recovered, Boyton Beach Police made it their duty to return it to it’s rightful owners, with Officer and evidence custodian Eric Reynolds being quoted saying “When I saw that we had this helmet that we didn’t have an owner for, I knew somebody was missing it.”. Officer Reynolds was right. The story stirred up enough attention that Larry Little himself showed up to hand the helmet back to Mike. When Sparrel got the helmet back he told Reynolds “Oh, he’s up above going, ‘Hey, you got it back, Thank you for what you did.’. He’s thanking you right now from up above. You didn’t have to do that, and I’m glad you did. I appreciate everything you did to make this happen.”
This was just more than just sports memorabilia, it was an heirloom. Something that brought back fond memories of a boy and his father enjoying the most epic time of Dolphins’ history. Something that others can put a monetary price tag on, but you wouldn’t give up for the world. Let’s hope it stays in their family’s hands for years to come.