Want to own a slightly underinflated piece of NFL history? Now you can.
One of the “Deflategate” balls used in the now infamous AFC Championship Game between the New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts is up for auction – with the opening bid set at $25,000. That sound you hear is Pats owner Bob Kraft shaking his couch cushions for loose change.
Online auction house Lelands.com has put the ball on the block as part of its summer auction series, which closes July 17. Bidding begins tonight at 9 p.m. ET.
Lelands acquired the ball from a pair of Patriots fans, Laura and Matt Nichols, who were in the stands at Gillette Stadium on January 18, when the Pats housed the Colts 45-7. The couple were sitting in the first row by the end zone and were no doubt losing their minds in the third quarter, when New England running back LeGarrette Blount rumbled in for a 13-yard score that put the team up 37-7. Blount dropped the ball while celebrating and, according to Laura, Pats wide receiver Brandon LaFell picked it up and handed it to her.
“I pointed at him, he pointed at me and he handed me the ball,” she told ESPN. “It was all so surreal.”
In the weeks after the game, as the “Deflategate” scandal grew, the couple thought the ball was a backup – brought in for the second half after refs found that the balls the Patriots used in the first half were underinflated, as had been reported. But when the Wells Report revealed that the balls used in the first half had simply been re-inflated for the second, they knew they had a piece of history.
The couple, married last year, then consigned the ball to Lelands.com, who put it up for auction – along with a ticket to the game and a notarized letter from the Nichols, attesting that everything in their story “is true and factual.” The online auction house’s founder, Joshua Evans, told ESPN that he could see the ball fetching “six figures,” and just in case you doubt him, well, the description that accompanies the ball on Lelands.com would like to remind you of its value:
“The historical importance of this piece cannot be understated. It is the most ‘topical’ piece of sports memorabilia that we can recall ever being sold so close to the event itself.”
Meanwhile, Patriots QB Tom Brady, suspended four games for his supposed awareness of “Deflategate” will appeal that penalty before NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell next week.