Collector Joy & Misery: Tom Brady’s “Last” Touchdown Pass Ball Gets Punted

When players announce their retirement it creates a certain scarcity and creates a finite number of their game-used items. When Tom Brady announced his retirement it was a potential gold rush for Brady’s game-worn and game-used items. This is a tale of what happened to that inadvertent “Last Tom Brady Touchdown Football” that was sold a day before Brady changed his mind. The “last” TD pass was not going to be his last TD pass at all — and it already isn’t!

Lelands had the ball, which might have otherwise have been just another game ball in the Tampa Bay equipment locker had it not been tossed into the stands by receiver Mike Evans. That exact football (with the serial number #435 on the ball) was sold as Tom Brady’s final touchdown pass for $518,000.00 only a day before Tom Brady announced his return to professional football. That sale had surpassed Brady’s first touchdown pass ball which was sold in the 2021 Mid-Spring Classic June 2021 for a whopping $428,841.60 after including the buyer’s premium.

And now the same exact football from the original consignor will be sent to a new owner and a new home. Lelands had Brady’s Last Pre-Retirement TD Ball in its Summer Classic 2022 auction that just ended at 2:05 AM on September 18, 2022 — and the ball sold for just $129,657.60 in the Lelands event. This same ball also marked Brady’s 86th career playoff touchdown passes (nearly double the prior record of 45 TD passes in Playoffs held by Joe Montana).

Tom Brady last TD pass football

The prior sale through Lelands was effectively undone and the consignor decided that this was the time to resubmit the ball up for auction. Lelands said of this ball:

Though the perspective has changed, this remains a magnificent piece nonetheless. For 40 days, this stood as one of the most significant game used footballs in history: the final touchdown ball of Tom Brady’s career. The “historic” event took place in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ home playoff loss to the Los Angeles Rams at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, on January 23, 2002. Brady’s 55-yard touchdown pass was caught by wide receiver Mike Evans, which cut the Rams’ lead to 27-20 with 3:20 left to play in the fourth quarter. As is his habit when he scores, Evans tossed the ball into the stands, where it was caught by our consignor. Obviously, with the game not yet decided, and with Brady having given no formal indication that he was considering retiring at the conclusion of the Buccaneers’ season, no one could have realized the ball’s historical significance at the time. It was only after the loss, and Brady’s stunning announcement a week later, that the true value of the piece became apparent.

Just 40 days later, the GOAT announced his “unretirement,” planning to return for the 2022 NFL season. It is worth noting, however, that at this point in time, TB12 has not yet returned to the gridiron, and should things change between now and the start of the season, this could, in fact, still be Brady’s final touchdown ball.

The ball in discussions does comes with full letter of authenticity and it was photo-match by MeiGray. Lelands added to the provenance by saying:

As mentioned earlier, this ball has been consigned directly from the fan who caught it after Evans tossed it into the stands. That impeccable provenance notwithstanding, the ball has also been conclusively photo matched. The Wilson Official NFL football features a large NFL logo on side panel, below which, on a separate panel is a silver oval bearing the Buccaneers’ team logo and the number “435.” Additionally, that same panel displays numerous small white “specks” that are a byproduct of its game use. Both the number “435” and the “specks” can be clearly seen in two closeup Getty Images (1237945845 and 1366493887) of Evans as he makes his fourth-quarter touchdown catch.

Here is the funny thing about this particular Tom Brady touchdown pass ball. A sale of more than $129,000 for any touchdown ball would be more than remarkable for any other touchdown pass ball in a great career. And to obscure the sale even further, brady has already collected another TD pass in the first week of the 2022 NFL season and is expected to keep adding to his record which now stands at 625 career TD passes in regular season play.

Collectors Dashboard evaluates high-end collectibles as an alternative asset class. The same capital that could have been invested into stocks or bonds is being used to buy high-end collectibles. With a prior sale of more than $500,000 and a final sale of more than $129,000 for this touchdown ball, it is undeniable that the same capital could have also been invested into stocks or bonds.

Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. That’s definitely true for the so-called “Last Brady TD Pass Ball” and then some. And this consignor still managed to turn the cost of a playoff ticket into a six-digit collectible, along with an incredible story that will be told countless times in the future.