Throughout its illustrious history, the NFL has brought fans some exciting superstar quarterbacks. I’ve already devoted articles to a few of them (Favre, the Mannings), but I thought it would be a good idea to give tribute to some of those I’ve yet to touch on.
The quarterback is arguably the most important player on an NFL team. How many times have you seen a great QB leading a fourth-quarter drive to take his team to victory? It happens all the time, and the great ones know how to do it best.
While this article can’t cover every great QB to ever toss a pigskin, it will touch on a few I haven’t yet had a chance to honor.
Without further delay, here are some of my favorite collectibles from the game’s top field generals.
- John Elway Signed Pewter Helmet—When you mention great quarterbacks, John Elway simply has to be on the list. During his highlight-filled career with the Denver Broncos, Elway earned nine Pro Bowl selections, two Offensive Player of the Year awards, the NFL MVP, a Hall of Fame induction and two Super Bowl rings. The truth is this short section isn’t enough to do Elway’s career justice. But true football fans know what he meant to the game. My favorite John Elway collectible is an autographed helmet made of 100-percent pewter. The helmet has the inscription “2004 Hall of Fame” and “Super Bowl XXXIII MVP.” Because of the pewter, this unique collectible weighs nearly 10 pounds! It’s valued at more than $2,000.
- Dan Marino Signed ’84 Jersey—During the same time that Elway was leading game-winning drives, Marino was terrorizing defenses with his passing abilities. He’s the only rookie quarterback to start the Pro Bowl. In his second season, he put together one of the greatest seasons ever, earning him the MVP. Marino was a regular at the Pro Bowl, and he holds more passing records than I have room to list. Despite never winning a Super Bowl, this Hall of Fame QB is undoubtedly one of the game’s all-time greats. Signed uniforms are great collector’s pieces. These collectibles can easily be framed and displayed on a wall. This Dan Marino signed jersey is a 1984 model (the year he won the MVP) of the Dolphins home uniform. It’s a great collectible to remind fans of a historic NFL season in which the Dolphins went 14-3, advancing to the Super Bowl where they lost 38-16 to San Francisco ’49ers. The jersey’s value is just more than $1,000.
- Johnny Unitas/Peyton Manning Signed Helmet—Long before Manning was wearing the Colts uniform, Johnny Unitas was revolutionizing the game of football. During the ’50s and ’60s, Unitas was earning a reputation as the game’s greatest quarterback. He was selected to 10 Pro Bowls, won three MVPs and won a Super Bowl. And he led the Colts to victory over the New York Giants 23-17 in what has been called the Greatest Game Ever Played—the 1958 NFL Championship. He is a Hall of Fame quarterback that will never be forgotten. I think the Johnny Unitas/Peyton Manning signed Colts helmet is a great collectible. It’s a piece that captures both the old and new era of the NFL through two of the game’s best QBs. This collectible can be found for around $2,500.
Eric Brantner is a baseball fan and freelance writer living in Houston.
Other stories by Eric Brantner:
Sports Collectibles Memories
Brett Favre collectibles
Mannings Spawn NFL Collectibles
Young NBA Stars: Collectors’ Slam Dunk
Verdict Puts Squeeze on O.J. Collectibles
WorthPoint—Get the Most from Your Antiques & Collectibles