Tom Brady’s U-turn on NFL Retirement May Cost Collector $518,628: Reports

By Katabella Roberts
Katabella Roberts
Katabella Roberts
Katabella Roberts is a reporter currently based in Turkey. She covers news and business for The Epoch Times, focusing primarily on the United States.
March 15, 2022 Updated: March 15, 2022

Tom Brady’s unretirement announcement may have cost one memorabilia collector over $500,000 after the NFL star said he is returning to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for his 23rd NFL season.

The last football used to throw a touchdown pass by Brady was auctioned off on March 12 by Lelands, which states it is “the first sports auction house and the premier appraisers and authenticators in the entire sports collectible hobby,” for $518,628.

The ball—which Brady threw to wide receiver Mike Evans in the fourth quarter of the Jan. 23 NFC title game against the L.A. Rams—was billed as a “historic piece” by Lelands, which said a fan had caught it when Evans tossed it into the stands. The fan then consigned the ball to Lelands.

“Obviously, with the game not yet decided, and Tom Brady having given no formal indication that he was retiring at the conclusion of the Buccaneers’ season, no one could have realized the ball’s historical significance at the time,” Lelands said. “It was only after the loss, and Brady’s stunning announcement a week later, that the true value of the piece became apparent.”

However, things didn’t go quite as planned for Lelands as within just a day of the auction ending, Brady announced he’s coming back.

The seven-time Super Bowl champion announced on March 14 that he’s returning to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, just 40 days after his retirement.

“These past two months I’ve realized my place is still on the field and not in the stands,” Brady wrote on Twitter. “That time will come. But it’s not now. I love my teammates, and I love my supportive family. They make it all possible. I’m coming back for my 23rd season in Tampa.”

It’s unclear how the situation regarding the memorabilia will move forward, given that the ball will no longer hold the same historical value that it did before Brady’s unretirement announcement.

Jordan Gilroy, director of acquisitions at Lelands, told Sports Collectors Daily, “I do not have an answer right now. Time will tell.”

The Epoch Times has contacted a Lelands spokesperson for comment.

John Osterweil, the owner of South Tampa’s Memorabilia Magic, told The Tampa Bay Times that Lelands might let the buyer off the hook.

“These auction houses, their reputation is very important to them,” Osterweil said. “Although Lelands sold it in good faith, since (Brady’s return) happened within 10 seconds basically after they sold it, I would think that Lelands—for their reputation—would not want to take the person’s money.”

According to Lelands’ terms and conditions (pdf), winning bidders are subject to a 20 percent buyer’s premium and are also responsible for all the shipping and handling costs related to the purchase, which includes “shipping, packing, labor, materials, and insurance.”

“If payment is not received within 30 days after the date of the invoice, Lelands reserves the right, without further notice to the buyer, to (a) charge to the buyer’s credit card any balance remaining on the buyer’s invoice; and/or (b) resell any or all the items won by the buyer,” according to the company.

In addition, a service charge of 1.5 percent per month is applied to any outstanding balance after 30 days, and the buyer agrees to pay all of Lelands’ costs, including attorney’s fees, the company states.

“Lelands doesn’t need $500,000. So I would think they would not want to sully their reputation by forcing the guy to purchase the item,” Osterweil said.

The situation Lelands currently finds itself in comes amid a rapidly booming memorabilia market that’s worth an estimated $5.4 billion, Forbes has reported.

The most expensive piece of sports memorabilia on record is the original Olympic Games Manifesto, written by a French aristocrat in 1888, which sold for $8.8 million at Sotheby’s in 2019.

Katabella Roberts is a reporter currently based in Turkey. She covers news and business for The Epoch Times, focusing primarily on the United States.