All but one MVP is still alive and for collectors, chasing down Super Bowl autographs involves more than just the players in this year’s game.
Some of the names are as big as they come in sports circles.
Starr. Namath. Unitas. Bradshaw. Montana. Aikman. Elway. Favre. Brady. Manning.
Others had a brief, shining moment in the spotlight, but are still remembered because they played in "the game".
Collecting autographs of players who appeared in a certain Super Bowl or the signatures of a Super Bowl championship team is a major challenge once those teams are no longer together in one place. Free agency has made it even harder as rosters change from year to year and getting the players to sign at training camp the following year usually means there are still holes to fill.
Some turn to slightly simpler tasks, like Super Bowl MVP autographs. Since the game didn’t debut until 1967, there are less than 40 players in the group and all but one are still alive. Harvey Martin, co-MVP with Randy White in Super Bowl XII, died in 2001 of pancreatic cancer at age 51. Some of the earliest MVPs, like Bart Starr are now past traditional retirement age. Fans hope they all live another 20 years, but logic would dictate that won’t be the case.
In 2006, Mounted Memories began an ambitious but successful attempt to gather the signatures of all 35 living Super Bowl MVPs on products it wanted to market while all were still in good health. Armed with sign-for-pay contracts, company reps spent February through May of 2006, driving helmets and other memorabilia to seven states across the country for each signing, starting in Pennsylvania and ending in Nevada. The first signature obtained was of Super Bowl XL MVP Hines Ward; the last signature was that of four-time MVP Joe Montana.
“We are thrilled to present this exclusive item to the public,” Mitch Adelstein, president of Mounted Memories, said at the time. “This is the first complete series of Super Bowl MVP signatures ever produced and with the limited number of product available, it’s an investment as much as it is a collector’s item.”
“This project was truly a labor of love,” added Adelstein. “These 35 players are some of the best the sport has to offer and having all of them sign these exclusive products was one of the most amazing accomplishments in Mounted Memories history.”
40 pewter Super Bowl XL Pro-Line helmets were autographed and sold exclusively in Field of Dreams stores across the country; 120 standard Super Bowl XL Pro-Line signed helmets and 40 art prints were produced, some still for sale on the company’s main memorabilia outlet, ProSportsMemorabilia.com . Mounted Memories included its authenticityhologram and paperwork plus a separate letter outlining the MVP program and a DVD and photo print-out of each MVP signing the product.
MVP voters have favored quarterbacks throughout the years. 21 QBs have been honored, many of which carry three-figure autograph prices at card shows. 7 running backs have MVP trophies including Emmitt Smith, well-versed in the collectors market. Five wide receivers have been named including show regular Jerry Rice. Eight defensive players have been voted as MVPs including White and Martin together. Green Bay Packers speedster Desmond Howard, a star in Super Bowl XXXI, is the only kick returner ever to win an MVP award.
Several men who played in Super Bowl games over the years are expected to appear at the Super Bowl card show in Arizona beginning this weekend.