DALLAS, TX - With the Indianapolis Colts- New Orleans Saints matchup for Super Bowl XLIV finally set - and Brett Favre's miraculous 40-year-old run perhaps at an end - the sports world now turns its attention to interminable two week waiting period between the end of the Championship games and the Big Dance itself.
Inevitably, with so much time to ponder the details of every angle of the game before kick-off, the conversation turns to big game memorabilia, itself a multimillion dollar industry. The game itself will generate a tremendous amount of memorabilia - some of it quite expensive, perhaps even valuable one day, and some not so much.
What most football fans, who live and die with their idols on the field, may not know is that collecting good-to-high-end football memorabilia, unlike baseball, is still relatively inexpensive - think in the range of several thousand dollars with good football items as opposed to the tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars for the best baseball-related memorabilia.
"For a lot of football fans that may want to get into collecting, but don't know where to start, the Super Bowl in particular can provide some very concrete and affordable opportunities," said Chris Ivy, Director of Sports at Heritage Auctions. "We don't deal too much at Heritage Auction Galleries in players still on the field - except Favre, since he's been around for two generations - but we have seen some Super Bowl players and some types of Super Bowl memorabilia that are both special and won't set you back a tremendous amount."
As for this year's big game, it features two of the biggest quarterbacks in the NFL right now, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees, one of which (Manning) is a sure fire first ballot Hall-of-Famer once he retires who already has a ring.
"Anything Manning related - even if it's Archie or Eli - is going to see a spike," said Ivy, "just because of the athletic greatness of that family. If the Colts win, and they're a four-point favorite right now - then any Peyton autograph, game ball or game-used equipment, is going to go up."
As far as Saint's memorabilia, there hasn't been a tremendous amount of high-end collectibles coming out, due in large part to the fact that the Saints 42 years as a franchise has largely been an exercise in futility. They've broken through this year, which automatically makes game balls, team autographs or signed jerseys more relevant, and relatively more pricey.
"If the Saints win, then any really rare and important piece of memorabilia associated with this team will instantly be a valuable piece of football history," said Ivy. "Conversely, there will be thousands of specially made 'collectibles,' marketed just after the game, which will be made by the thousands and will more than likely never equal to the initial value paid to obtain it.
The road to real value lies not only in collecting diligence and patience; the most important element is a passion for the game itself, and for the pursuit of the collection. Real value does not come in the hype of the moment, say a week or two after the win, but in the appreciation of the thing itself as a rare and valuable piece of sport.
For instance, coming out of Super Bowl XLIV, if a collector were able to get a team signed football from the winning team, if cared for properly, and held on to for a few decades - like this 1966 Green Bay Packers Team-signed ball, which sold for $2,868 (all prices in include Heritage's 19.5% Buyer's Premium) in 2007
A viable Super Bowl memorabilia option, attractive to a variety of budgets, is the Super Bowl-winning team-signed helmet. When you look at the range of players that sign these helmets - from a Heritage-sold 1992 Dallas Cowboys team-signed helmet featuring Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin, which brought $2,868
The holy grail of Super Bowl memorabilia, though, is the game worn uniform or helmet. These treasures don't come around too often given their singular nature and the fact that most times players and their families want to hold on to these keepsakes themselves.
"Needless to say, a game-worn helmet from a Super Bowl winning quarterback, like the 1985 Dan Marino Super Bowl XIX game worn helmet we auctioned in 2007 for $33,460
Hardcore collectors of football memorabilia know that there is currently relatively little in the sport that can compare with the age, history and value of the best of baseball memorabilia, but they also know that that therein lies the secret to assembling a great, lasting and valuable football memorabilia collection, and most experts would agree that Super Bowl-related items are a choice place to begin.
"There's great collectibles to be had, from (sometimes original) championship rings, to game tickets and early mint-state game-day programs," said Ivy, "there are many places to get started building for the future. Don't collect thinking you can make a fast buck. Collect because you enjoy the pursuit, because you are in for the long haul and because the real value lies in your love for the game."
Reliable experts, for any collecting need or question, can certainly be found at Heritage Auctions (HA.com), and at several other high-end outlets. Do your research first, know what you want and how much you're willing to spend, then ask them to help you find your treasure. The excitement and enjoyment will certainly live long beyond the day of the big game.