Legendary NFL Memorabilia Takes Center Stage at 17th Annual Super Bowl Auction

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The much-anticipated 17th annual Super Bowl Live Auction, a hallmark event in the sports memorabilia world, is set to feature a remarkable collection from Johnny Unitas, an icon of professional football. This event is a collaborative venture between Hunt Auctions and the NFL, highlighting its significance in the sports collectibles arena.

This year's auction boasts an impressive array of over 1,000 football-related items, with the proceedings reaching their peak in a live event scheduled for Saturday, February 10th, just before the onset of Super Bowl LVIII. A significant portion of these items comes directly from the family of Johnny Unitas, the legendary Hall of Fame quarterback who passed away in 2002 at the age of 69.

Unitas, whose football journey is nothing short of inspirational, began his ascent to fame at the University of Louisville. Despite being a late ninth-round draft pick by the Pittsburgh Steelers, his career took a pivotal turn when he joined the Baltimore Colts in 1956, eventually becoming a defining player of the 1950s and 1960s.

Notable among the items from Unitas' collection is his personal copy of the 1957 Topps rookie card. Unitas, known as “The Golden Arm,” was pivotal in leading the Colts to the NFL Championship in 1958, a match often referred to as “The Greatest Game Ever Played.” This overtime victory, broadcast nationally, played a crucial role in elevating the NFL's popularity in the 1960s.

A highlight of the auction is Unitas' 14k gold 1958 championship ring, with expectations of it fetching between $100,000 and $200,000. Unitas' career with the Colts was marked by three NFL Championships, a Super Bowl victory, three NFL MVP awards, and numerous NFL passing records, including his famous 47 consecutive games with a passing touchdown. His Super Bowl V championship ring is another prominent item in the auction.

The Unitas family has consigned these items, which are being offered publicly for the first time, each accompanied by a letter of provenance. Proceeds from some of the sales will benefit NFL Auction Charities. The family has retained some items from his career, with others previously donated for public display.

Key pieces 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, his 1967 NFL Most Valuable Player award, the 1964 Pro Bowl Most Valuable Player Award, and a Rolex wristwatch.

The auction also includes personal items from Anthony Muñoz, another Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee. Muñoz, a Cincinnati Bengals offensive lineman, left an indelible mark on the NFL with his outstanding play. His collection features items like his final game uniform and a Cincinnati Bengals professional model jersey from the 1980s.

In addition, the auction features other significant football items, including a 2014 Tom Brady autographed New England Patriots game-worn jersey from the season opener against the Miami Dolphins, which is expected to be one of the most coveted items with an estimate of $250,000 to $500,000.

The auction also includes a wide array of other collectibles, such as a Lamar Jackson game-worn Baltimore Ravens jersey and other items from notable players like Trevor Lawrence and Joey Bosa. The NFL Auction is contributing items as well, with proceeds supporting various charitable causes.

The live auction items will be on display at the Super Bowl Experience at the Phoenix Convention Center from February 7-10, where Hunt Auctions will also offer complimentary sports memorabilia appraisals. This auction is not just a showcase of football history but also a means to support charitable causes, making it a standout event for sports fans and collectors.
 

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