Tedy Bruschi retired from the NFL on Monday at age 36 after 13 seasons with the New England Patriots — a career known for three Super Bowl championships, his recovery from a stroke in 2005 and one other thing that’s very, very important to football card collectors.
His lack of certified autograph cards.
Bruschi appeared on more than 550 different football cards made during his career — 556 to be exact — but a mere 36 of them included an autograph. That’s a relatively scarce amount for a player of his notable stature on such a prominent team.
Panini America Acquisitions Manager Joe White, who oversaw Donruss’ deal with Bruschi, discussed the linebacker’s autographing habits.
“I believe [to date] we are the only company to produce a live Bruschi
certified autograph trading card. I’m constantly searching to see if any
others go live, but all I’ve seen is ours,” White said. “We did a deal with him in 2006, but his first autograph card was one we did for the Unsung Heroes banquet. We produced a limited edition set of all the winners and each player signed a handful of cards, which we included in a later set.”
“Our deal in 2006 was a big hit with collectors as he appeared in
Absolute and Limited.”
But how notable of a player is Bruschi?
“How do I feel about Tedy Bruschi? He’s a perfect player,” said Patriots Coach Bill Belichick in an interview with The Associated Press on Monday.
Bruschi was last scheduled to sign for the 2008 Press Pass Legends Bowl Edition set — just over 130 total signatures for that entire product — and before that he signed for just 22 other cards between the other companies. Most of those came in Donruss/Playoff products between 2005 and 2006.
Not surprisingly, his first autographed card is his most valuable among those priced in the Beckett.com database. It comes in the 2001 Playoff Honors Honor Roll Unsung Heroes Autographs set (seen up top) and is limited to just 37 copies.
What’s it worth? $175. But with so few copies of that card to go around — and perhaps a whole lot of interest in today’s “perfect player” — it’s easy to see how that might be a serious bargain.
If you can find one.
Chris Olds has collected sports cards and memorabilia since 1987. Before coming to Beckett Media, he wrote about the hobby for the Orlando Sentinel on his blog, SportsStuff, and for the San Antonio Express-News and The Tuscaloosa (Ala.) News. Do you have a comment, question or idea? Send e-mail to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.