While winning a Super Bowl is the ultimate prize in the National Football League, being named the most valuable player of the championship game is a ticket to sports immortality. Of the 44 players who have won the award in a half-century of Super Bowls, 19 have already been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Winning an MVP award can take a standout or even superstar player to an entirely new level of collector interest. When iconic items tied to those players appear at auction, there’s no shortage of serious bidders and the prices are often steep.
Hunt Auctions is conducting its annual Super Bowl Auction in Houston on Saturday and it’s a good bet we’ll see numerous items bring five-figure bids.
Here are eight Super Bowl MVPs from the past and a few notable items related to their careers that have sold at auction.
- Bart Starr
Super Bowl rings, awarded to players, coaches and personnel of an NFL championship team, do surface at auction from time to time, and they sell for thousands of dollars. Bart Starr is the only quarterback in NFL history to lead a team to five league championships (1961-62, 1965-67), which include Super Bowls I and II, but the closest collectors have come to acquiring one of Bart Starr’s Super Bowl rings was an exact duplicate: a salesman’s sample of his Super Bowl II Green Bay Packers ring.
Made by Jostens, the 14K gold ring is adorned with three enormous white topaz stones and has Starr’s name on the side. Consigned to Heritage Auctions in Dallas by a Jostens sales representative, the ring sold for $8,500 plus buyer’s premium on Nov. 11, 2011.
- Joe Namath
Namath led the New York Jets to one championship only, but he made Super Bowl III in 1969 unforgettable, boldly predicting a victory over Don Shula’s Baltimore Colts, then making good on his boast with a 16-7 upset. A special brew of celebrity and skill, “Broadway Joe” remains one of the most popular and compelling figures in 20th century sports.
- Roger Staubach
Quarterback Roger Staubach was the first of four players to win both the Heisman Trophy as the top college player in the nation and the Super Bowl MVP award. Staubach led the Dallas Cowboys to victories in Super Bowl VI and Super Bowl XII. Completing 12 of 18 passes for 119 yards and throwing two touchdown passes in a 23-3 win over the Miami Dolphins, Staubach was named the MVP of Super Bowl VI in 1972.
Leroy Neiman honored the Cowboy great in one of his trademark sports portraits, which depicted Staubach dropping back to pass. The original Neiman oil painting of Roger Staubach, 25 inches high by 20 inches wide, sold on Oct. 21, 2014 for $22,000 plus buyer’s premium at John Moran Auctioneers in California.
- Joe Montana
After leading Notre Dame to a national championship, Joe Montana started his NFL career in 1979 with San Francisco, where he played for the next 14 seasons. He quarterbacked the 49ers to four Super Bowl wins and was named Super Bowl MVP three times.
Known for his ability to remain calm under pressure, Montana engineered a 92-yard drive in the closing minutes of Super Bowl XXIII, capping it with a 10-yard touchdown pass to John Taylor with seconds left in a 20-16 comeback win over the Cincinnati Bengals. Jerry Rice, his top receiver, was the MVP of the Super Bowl that year, but the following year Montana won his third Super Bowl MVP award in a 55-10 rout of the Denver Broncos in which he threw a record five touchdown passes.
Two game-worn Montana jerseys sold for big bucks last year. One dating from the earliest days of his 49ers career sold for $24,640 via Mile High Card Company while a 1990 home red gamer originating with teammate Ronnie Lott sold for $21,960 via Goldin Auctions.
A Joe Montana 1979-80 San Francisco 49ers game-worn jersey sold for $10,024.80 at SCP Auctions‘ 2013 Fall Premier sale in Laguna Niguel, California.
Bradshaw played for 14 seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers, won four Super Bowl titles in a six-year period (1974, 1975, 1978 and 1979) and was named MVP of Super Bowls XIII (1979) and XIV (1980).
In Super Bowl XIII, Bradshaw completed 17 of 30 passes for Super Bowl records of 318 passing yards and four touchdown passes in a 35-31 win over the Dallas Cowboys. He repeated as Super Bowl MVP the following year when he completed 14 of 21 passes for 309 yards and two touchdowns in defeating the Los Angeles Rams 31-19.
Bradshaw was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1989, his first year of eligibility, and since 1994 has been a TV analyst and co-host of Fox NFL Sunday.
A Terry Bradshaw 1977 Pittsburgh Steelers game-worn road jersey sold for $30,343.20 at SCP Auctions‘ 2015 Spring Premier sale.
- Franco Harris
One of the NFL’s most powerful running backs of the 1970s was Pittsburgh’s Franco Harris, who played on four Steelers Super Bowl champion teams (IX, X, XIII and XIV). In his first Super Bowl in 1975, Harris ran for a record 158 yards and a touchdown. He was named the game’s MVP in a 16-6 win over the Minnesota Vikings. Harris was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1990.
A 1978 Harris game-worn Steelers road jersey sold via SCP Auctions in 2014 for $25,076.
For proof that not every Super Bowl MVP item costs a fortune, a football autographed by Harris and inscribed “SB IX MVP” sold for $375 plus buyer’s premium at a Churchill House auction in Tarzana, Calif., on Aug. 19, 2016.
Signed footballs, photo, jerseys and other common items from many MVPs are readily available online at fairly modest prices.
- Larry Csonka
Fullback Larry Csonka led the Dolphins with 112 yards rushing. The Dolphins repeated the following season, winning Super Bowl VIII 24-7 over the Minnesota Vikings. Csonka, who rushed for a Super Bowl record 145 yards and scored two touchdowns, was named MVP, the first running back to achieve that honor.
A jersey dating from later in the Hall of Famer’s career sold for nearly $12,000 through Heritage last spring.
A deflated Miami Dolphins team-signed football – including Csonka’s signature – from their 1972 undefeated season sold for $650 plus buyer’s premium at Manor Auctions in Tallahassee, Fla., on Dec. 4, 2011.
The Green Bay Packers fell one game short of the Super Bowl this season, but Rodgers and the 2010-11 Packers tasted glory in Dallas, beating the Steelers. Rodgers is a two-time league MVP with a 104.1 career passer rating and a remarkable 4.13 touchdown to interception ratio.
A home jersey Rodgers wore during that championship season sold for $20, 700 at Hunt’s Super Bowl 49 auction.
Interestingly, the career memorabilia collection of the man he replaced as Green Bay’s starting quarterback, Brett Favre, is up for auction this weekend.
It’s somehow difficult to imagine some of these football legends are now senior citizens. Starr, the first Super Bowl MVP, is 83 years old. Staubach is 74. Namath is 73. While mementos from the early days of the NFL are becoming increasingly difficult to acquire, the popularity of the game, the aging populace of those early legends and the increasing value of Super Bowl memorabilia ensures more of it will reach collectors in the years to come.