The 17th annual Super Bowl Live Auction, a highly anticipated event in the world of sports memorabilia, is set to showcase an extensive collection of items from one of the greatest pro football players of all time, Johnny Unitas. This collaboration between Hunt Auctions and the NFL promises to be a highlight for enthusiasts and collectors alike.
Taking place on Saturday, February 10th, just before Super Bowl LVIII, the auction will feature over 1,000 football-related items. Among these, hundreds have been consigned directly by the family of Johnny Unitas, the late Hall of Fame quarterback who achieved legendary status before his passing in 2002 at the age of 69.
Johnny Unitas, often referred to as “The Golden Arm,” rose to fame as a collegiate star at the University of Louisville. Despite being a ninth-round draft pick by the Pittsburgh Steelers, his journey took a turn when he didn’t make the team, leading to his signing with the Baltimore Colts in 1956. Overcoming initial challenges, he established himself as one of the preeminent players of the 1950s and 1960s.
One of the standout items from Unitas’ collection is his personal copy of his 1957 Topps Johnny Unitas rookie card. Unitas was instrumental in leading the Colts to the NFL Championship in 1958, a game famously known as “The Greatest Game Ever Played.” This overtime victory, broadcast nationally, significantly boosted the NFL’s popularity in the 1960s.
One prime item in the auction is Unitas’ 14k gold 1958 championship ring, estimated to fetch between $100,000 and $200,000. Unitas’ illustrious career with the Colts included three NFL Championships, a Super Bowl championship, three NFL MVP awards, and numerous NFL passing records, including a remarkable streak of 47 consecutive games with a passing touchdown. His Super Bowl V championship ring is another highlight of the auction.
The items from Unitas’ career, being offered publicly for the first time, come with letters of provenance from the Unitas family. A portion of the proceeds will benefit NFL Auction Charities. The family has made it known that not all items from his career are being sold, as some have previously been donated for public display.
Highlights from the Johnny Unitas Collection include professional model high-top cleats from the 1970s, his 1979 Football Hall of Fame Induction ring, an autographed Baltimore Colts professional model helmet from the late 1960s-early 1970s, his 1967 NFL Most Valuable Player award: the Jim Thorpe Memorial Trophy, the 1964 Pro Bowl Most Valuable Player Award, and a Rolex wristwatch.
In addition to Unitas’ collection, the auction will also feature items from the personal collection of Cincinnati Bengals offensive lineman and Pro Football Hall of Famer Anthony Muñoz. Muñoz, selected third overall in the 1980 NFL Draft from USC, had a profound impact on the Bengals and is regarded as one of the finest offensive linemen in NFL history. His collection includes his final game uniform from December 27, 1992, a Cincinnati Bengals professional model jersey from the 1980s, and more.
The auction also includes items from other notable football figures and events. One highlight is a 2014 Tom Brady autographed and inscribed New England Patriots game-worn jersey from the season opener against the Miami Dolphins. This jersey, authenticated by MeiGray and valued between $250,000 and $500,000, is considered one of the finest Tom Brady game-worn jerseys available.
Other notable items include a 2022 Lamar Jackson game-worn Baltimore Ravens jersey, Lamar Jackson’s autographed rookie year game-worn cleats, and more. NFL Auction has also provided items with proceeds awarded to the league’s nonprofit partners, including a Trevor Lawrence game-worn Jacksonville Jaguars jersey and other pieces from notable players.
The live auction items will be available for preview at the Super Bowl Experience at the Phoenix Convention Center from February 7-10, with tickets required for entrance. Hunt Auctions experts will offer complimentary appraisals for sports memorabilia during these hours. This auction not only offers a unique glimpse into football history but also supports various charitable causes, making it a notable event in the sports community.