Whether you're a die-hard fan of a multi-titled team or continue to root for the underdog in your area, you've probably picked up a piece of NFL memorabilia to represent your home team with pride. From autographed footballs to limited edition jerseys, American football fans show up and show out for their team of choice, and they're willing to pay good money to be in the presence of items touched by the NFL greats. While you might not ever get the chance to own that one-of-a-kind signed jersey, there's a ton of other vintage and modern NFL memorabilia that you can pick up for a fraction of the price.
The National Football League Capitalizes on Its Success
Beginning with 14 teams in 1920, the National Football League took a recreational pastime and codified it. Originally known as the American Professional Football Association, the NFL consisted of 14 individual teams and over time these 14 teams grew into 32, with millions of people tuning in to watch the regional rivalries play out in stadiums across America every season. With each new season, the NFL's licensed merchandise generates the organization millions, if not billions, of dollars in revenue. Yet, people's fascination with supporting their favorite team by buying their collectibles isn't a new concept. However, the NFL is perhaps one of the most prolific sports organizations when it comes to commodifying the sport in new and lucrative ways, year after year.
Common Types of NFL Memorabilia to Collect
Football fans are usually vocal about how much they love their teams, and many of them are avid collectors of team-related memorabilia. Unlike some sports, American football requires a lot of equipment, making it the perfect type of game for collectors to clamor over. Often NFL memorabilia is autographed by either the players, coaches, or team owners, making these pieces all the more valuable.
Easily Accessible NFL Memorabilia
Most people who dip their toes into NFL collecting don't jump straight to the deep end of buying an obscure post-war player's jersey. Rather, they buy a few of their team's licensed memorabilia at their local bookstore or tailgate. Relatively affordable and easy to access, these vintage and modern collectibles include:
- Trading Cards
Signed Football Memorabilia
One of the most coveted types of sports memorabilia for fans is the things that official players and staff have signed. Things like jerseys and footballs are the most common, and those from high-profile players and positions (like quarterback) will sell for the most amount of money. Despite these hand-touched connections, you can get autographed shirts, hats, jerseys, posters, helmets, and footballs for about a $150 and up today.
For example, here are some autographed NFL memorabilia recently listed by the NFL itself:
- Justin Herbert Los Angeles Chargers Autographed Jersey - Listed for $599.99
- Ben Roethlisberger Pittsburgh Steelers Autographed Football - Listed for $499.99
- Patrick Mahomes Kansas City Chiefs Autographed Helmet - Listed for $1,499.99
Super Bowl Memorabilia
Every February, millions of people tune in to watch the Super Bowl--that ultimate game pitting the top two teams from that year's season against each other. Much like the World Cup, this match is heavily merchandized, and you can find all sorts of random items (like beer packages and cookie sleeves) advertising it. However, the more worthwhile items to collect are those related to the players who participated in the match.
Among these items is the infamous Super Bowl ring. Each of these rings is custom designed from year to year and has been gifted to the NFL champion team and their associated organization since the first Super Bowl in 1967. You can find replicas all over the internet, but genuine rings are usually evaluated to be worth $30,000-$50,000 at the very least, with rings from notable players like Hall of Famers selling for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
People with a sentimental streak are more likely to collect ephemera from NFL events than other fans are. Since these items aren't typically worth a lot of money, they're not something that people are willing to go into bidding wars over. Yet, they make for wonderful scrapbooking materials. Some of these types of paper ephemera related to the NFL that you can collect include:
- Game day programs
- Team programs
- Newspaper articles
Some of the Most Expensive NFL Memorabilia Ever Sold
From famous to infamous, these pieces from NFL history relating to coaches and players are worth eye-watering amounts of money based on how much cash a few lucky fans were willing to drop on these collectibles.
- Lawrence Taylor's Super Bowl XXV Super Bowl Ring - Sold for $230,401
- OJ Simpson's 1968 Heisman Trophy - Sold for $255,000
- 1935 National Chicle Bronko Nagurski Mint-9 football card - Sold for $350,000
- Bruce Smith's 1941 Heisman Trophy - Sold for $376,618
- Patrick Mahomes 2017 Autographed NFL Rookie Card - Sold for $4.3 million
Where to Find Football Memorabilia Online
When it comes to shopping for NFL memorabilia online, you want to be extra careful. Unfortunately, with so many different types of memorabilia out there relating to football and the NFL, it's incredibly easy for sellers to manipulate their listings to sound like it's a genuine piece, but it's actually a fake. So, you want to make sure that you're purchasing items from reputable places. While eBay is usually people's go-to for collecting online, there're better, more specialized websites to source your football collectibles from, including:
- Sports Memorabilia - This specialized retailer sells all sorts of professional sports memorabilia, and items from their collection comes with an authenticity guarantee.
- Gasoline Alley Antiques - What this stripped down website lacks in pizzazz, it makes up for in inventory volume. From pennants to trading cards, Gasoline Alley has a ton of NFL collectibles, with most listings featuring a photo for you to be able to reference before you purchase.
- Steiner Sports - Much like Sports Memorabilia, Steiner Sports specializes in professional sports related collectibles and features products from all of the current NFL teams.
- Autograph City - Autograph City is a pretty self-explanatory website, with vintage and modern autographed sports collectibles for sale.
NFL Memorabilia Made for Fans of All Ages
In the past century that the NFL has been bringing football games, team rivalries, and raucous tailgates to your area, millions of pieces of memorabilia relating to the sport has circulated into pop culture. From special edition jerseys to commemorate a specific game to a rare piece of football history, NFL memorabilia is a type of collectible made for fans of all kinds. So, no matter where you live or how much money you have, there's always a piece of NFL memorabilia you can bring home with you.