A lucky bounce could be worth a nice payday to a family of Denver Broncos fans.
They wound up with the football used in the second-to-last touchdown pass of quarterback Peyton Manning’s long career and have placed it in an upcoming auction.
Manning threw two touchdown passes in the AFC Championship game in Denver on January 24, the first coming on a 21-yard strike to tight end Owen Daniels, who spiked the ball hard in celebration. It bounced into the lower seating area where it struck Chad Nelson’s ten-year-old son’s forehead.
Watching the action on the field, Nelson thought the ball had somehow come from a nearby fan but after picking it up and seeing the tell-tale markings, realized what had happened.
“In the bedlam of the celebration, Nelson initially thought the ball had come from another nearby fan, but he quickly realized the true derivation when he saw the Broncos logo and array of silver marker notations,” said Chris Nerat of Heritage Auctions.
It was the 578th touchdown pass of Manning’s career, and certainly the last to be acquired by a fan.
After consulting with the auction house, Nelson decided to consign the ball to the company’s next catalog auction in May where it will come with a pre-sale estimate of at least $20,000.
The silver markings were applied pre-game by referees and staffers tasked with assuring the integrity of the footballs, especially as the NFL was just one year removed from “Deflate-Gate”.
The Broncos would never trail the Patriots that day, establishing this as the last ball thrown by Peyton Manning to take the lead of a game. Two weeks later, Manning closed out his career as the owner of the bulk of the most significant records for the quarterback position but he didn’t throw a touchdown pass in the win over the Carolina Panthers.