NEW YORK, NY.- 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.
While it is unlikely that most fans would ever meet one of these elite football stars in person, its entirely possible for them to acquire an item associated with their heroes playing careers. Just keep in mind that as collectibles go, actual Super Bowl MVP mementos are in another league altogether. If and when such iconic items appear at auction, theres no shortage of serious bidders and the prices are sure to be steep.
Here are seven MVPs and seven football collectibles related to their careers:
1. 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 Starrs Super Bowl rings was an exact duplicate: a salesmans 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 Starrs name on the side. Consigned to Heritage Auctions in Dallas by a Jostens sales representative, the ring sold for $8,500 plus buyers premium on Nov. 11, 2011.
2. Joe Namath
Quarterback Joe 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.
Heritage Auctions offered an authentic Joe Namath game-worn New York Jets jersey from the 1970-73 seasons in a sports memorabilia auction on Feb. 20, 2016. It sold for $38,240.
3. 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 buyers premium at John Moran Auctioneers in California.
4. 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 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.
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.
5. Terry Bradshaw
Terry Bradshaw, who 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.
6. Franco Harris
One of the NFLs most powerful running backs of the 1970s was Pittsburghs 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 games MVP in a 16-6 win over the Minnesota Vikings. Harris was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1990.
A football autographed by Franco Harris and inscribed SB IX MVP sold for $375 plus buyers premium at a Churchill House auction in Tarzana, Calif., on Aug. 19, 2016.
7. Larry Csonka
The only NFL team ever to post a perfect season was the 1972 Miami Dolphins, who defeated the Washington Redskins 14-7 in Super Bowl VII. 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 Miami Dolphins team-signed football including Czonkas signature from their 1972 undefeated season sold for $650 plus buyers premium at Manor Auctions in Tallahassee, Fla., on Dec. 4, 2011.
Its somehow difficult to imagine these football legends are now senior citizens. Bart Starr, the first Super Bowl MVP, is 83 years old. While mementos from the early days of the NFL are becoming increasingly difficult to acquire, the popularity of the game ensures more sports memorabilia will reach collectors for many seasons to come.