The Only Thing Hotter Than Tom Brady Are His Football Cards

Maybe Mike Evans can give a fan a winning Lotto ticket this week.

The much-publicized handout by Evans, in which the receiver gave the football from Tom Brady’s 600th touchdown pass to a fan during last Sunday’s game at Raymond James Stadium against the Bears, sent the sports memorabilia industry into a collective coronary.

The Bucs retrieved the milestone pigskin — Brady is the first to throw 600 touchdown passes — in return for an assortment of items from the team that included two signed jerseys, and a Bitcoin (which closed at $61,465 Thursday) from the quarterback. Those are nice gestures all around, though the football that the fan, a St. Petersburg resident, returned to the team is estimated to have a value of at least $500,000.

That is a hefty price, indeed. Yet, the potential value of the football does not come close to what has been taking place with some of Brady’s professionally graded football cards.

As the Buccaneers’ 43-year-old quarterback continues to set new records and rewrites many of his own, sales of his cards have spiraled to heights that have obliterated previously realized prices.

Ignited during the pandemic, the past year has been one in which the sports collectibles market, highlighted by the frenzy for cards, has burst by the seams.

The prime example of this frenzy, at least as it pertains to football cards, is the $3,107,372 (including buyer’s premium) that one of Brady’s professionally graded rookie cards went for at auction in June. It was a record price for a football card, eclipsing the $2,589,477 the card commanded in April.

The card in question is Brady’s 2000 Playoff Contenders Championship Ticket. It was limited to 100 copies and signed by the quarterback.

“That’s the big one,” said Jason Weintraub, who owns Baseball Card Clubhouse, a Tampa storefront. “Big rookie cards are the G.O.A.T cards. Those are the cards that people are spending big money on.”

Both of the seven-figure cards noted above were professionally graded by Beckett Grading Services, one of the industry’s leading grading companies. In each instance, the cards received a grade of Mint 9 with the signature receiving a Gem Mint 10.

Weintraub said seven-figure prices for high-end rookie cards such as Brady’s were surprising early in the pandemic. However, nothing seems to come as much of a shock anymore.

“Now, any desirable collectible is going absolutely nuts right,” said the former minor league pitcher, noting how the interest and value of non-fungible tokens (NFTs), comics, and other collectibles have also taken off.

Three other professionally graded copies of the 2000 Playoff Contenders Championship Ticket topped the million-dollar barrier this year, two of which were graded BGS 8.5/10 and realized a little more than $1.5 million. The most recent was sold at auction last week.

Brady cards in general are hot, especially his rookies and those from his first few years in the league. Some may only command $50-$100, but they may have sold for no more than $10 or $20 a couple of years ago. A lot has certainly happened since then.

“It’s amazing what Brady is doing and he is on pace to possibly win another MVP,” said Weintraub. “His cards will only continue to go crazy and he doesn’t have to win another Super Bowl. He could get hurt today, God forbid, or decide to retire and his cards will still continue to gain in value or at least hold their value.”

By the way, the ball with which Brady threw his first touchdown pass, to Terry Glenn in a Patriots’ victory over the visiting Chargers in 2001, sold at auction for $429,000 in September.

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