Do you want to own a piece of NFL history? If so, you’re likely going to have to pay a pretty penny for it.
Over the last 100 years, NFL players like Joe Montana, Walter Payton, Johnny Unitas, Lawrence Taylor, and Tom Brady have put together historic careers. In the process, they’ve also played a part in creating some of the most valuable sports memorabilia of all time.
From football trading cards and signed footballs to game-worn jerseys and championship rings, there are all kinds of football memorabilia out there for the taking, if you’re willing to pay for it.
Here are the 8 most valuable pieces of NFL football memorabilia ever.
1. Deflategate Football Used by Tom Brady During AFC Championship Game in 2015
Deflategate was arguably one of the biggest scandals in NFL history.
Following the New England Patriots’ AFC Championship Game win over the Indianapolis Colts in 2015, several Colts players suggested Patriots quarterback Tom Brady used an underinflated football during the game.
The NFL investigated the accusation made against Brady and the Patriots. And after a long legal battle that played out over nearly two years, the league handed Brady a four-game suspension for his alleged role in Deflategate.
A fan who attended the AFC Championship Game in 2015 managed to snag one of the footballs used during the Deflategate game. She later sold it for more than $40,000, making what would have normally been a regular old football one of the most expensive pieces of football memorabilia ever.
2. Championship Ring Vince Lombardi Won Coaching the New York Giants in 1956
Most people remember Vince Lombardi as the head coach of the Green Bay Packers. He led the Packers to a victory in Super Bowl I and turned himself into one of the most quotable NFL coaches of all time during his time with the team.
But before coaching the Packers, Lombardi was the offensive coordinator for the New York Giants. He won a championship ring with the team in 1956, back before there was any such thing as the Super Bowl.
That championship ring was sold for more than $50,000 in 2017 when a bunch of Lombardi-related football memorabilia hit the auction block.
3. Football Johnny Unitas Used to Throw a Touchdown in NFL Championship Game in 1958
Back in 1958, the Indianapolis Colts and New York Giants took part in the NFL Championship Game. It was a game that would eventually be called “The Greatest Game Ever Played” with the Colts emerging victorious in a sudden-death overtime thriller.
During the game, legendary Colts quarterback Johnny Unitas threw a touchdown pass to Raymond Berry. About 60 years later, the ball that Unitas thew to Berry sold at auction for more than $60,000.
4. Super Bowl I Ring Steve Wright Won With the Green Bay Packers in 1966
Casual NFL fans might not be familiar with the name Steve Wright. But he was an offensive lineman who helped the Green Bay Packers win Super Bowls I and II.
In 2011, Wright decided to sell off the ring he won in 1966 during the Packers’ win over the Kansas City Chiefs in the first-ever Super Bowl. It fetched more than $70,000 at auction.
5. Jersey Worn by Jim Brown Throughout the 1962-63 NFL Season
Jim Brown was one of the best running backs in NFL history. He rushed for more than 12,000 yards during his illustrious career while recording 126 touchdowns.
One of his best seasons came in 1962 when he managed to run for more than 1,800 yards. The jersey that he wrote that season went up for auction in 2017.
Although the bidding for the jersey started at $25,000, it quickly climbed to $75,000 before someone placed a winning bid of $78,000.
6. Jersey Worn by Johnny Unitas Throughout the 1967-68 Season
If you think Jim Brown’s jersey sold for a lot of money, get a whiff of what someone once paid for a jersey worn by Johnny Unitas.
Because game-worn Unitas jerseys are relatively hard to come by these days, a collector paid more than $103,000 for a jersey Unitas wore back in 1967. The jersey was unique in that it featured a repair made to the front of it.
7. Super Bowl XX Ring William “Refrigerator” Perry Won With the Chicago Bears in 1985
Up until 2015, William “Refrigerator” Perry was the proud owner of the biggest Super Bowl ring of all time. It was a size 25 ring (the average American male wears a ring in the size 8 to 14 range) that was designed to fit around Perry’s gigantic ring finger after the Chicago Bears beat up on the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl in 1985.
Perry’s ring was widely considered to be one of the most coveted pieces of football memorabilia in Chicago sports history. It sold for more than $200,000 when it was put up for sale.
8. Football Card Featuring Chicago Bears’ Bronko Nagurski From 1935
It’s baseball trading cards, not football trading cards, that collectors usually go crazy over. But the 1935 National Chicle Bronko Nagurski card is the rare exception.
Football was still in its infancy back in the 1930s, so there weren’t many football trading cards produced. That means that most of those cards are now long gone, and those that are still around aren’t in great condition.
There is still one Nagurski card from 1935 in near-mint condition floating around, though, and a private collection paid $350,000 for it in 2011. It’s thought to be the rarest football card of all time and could very well increase in value dramatically as long as it stays in pristine condition.
How the Popularity of the NFL Could Impact Football Memorabilia
All the football memorabilia on this list is valuable. But believe it or not, football memorabilia could become even more valuable in the coming years and decades due to the spike in the NFL’s popularity.
People all around the world have fallen in love with football and are willing to pay top dollar for memorabilia related to the sport. If you’re lucky enough to get your hands on a game-worn jersey or a football involved in a famous play, hold on to it for dear life. It could pay off later.
Read our blog to learn more about football memorabilia and the NFL as a whole.