Though the perspective has changed, this remains a magnificent piece nonetheless. For 40 days, this stood as one of the most significant game used footballs in history: the final touchdown ball of
Tom Brady’s career. The "historic" event took place in the Tampa Bay
Buccaneers’ home playoff loss to the Los Angeles Rams at Raymond James Stadium
in Tampa, Florida, on January 23, 2002. Brady’s 55-yard touchdown pass was
caught by wide receiver Mike Evans, which cut the Rams’ lead to 27-20 with 3:20
left to play in the fourth quarter. As is his habit when he scores, Evans
tossed the ball into the stands, where it was caught by our consignor. Obviously,
with the game not yet decided, and with Brady having given no formal indication
that he was considering retiring at the conclusion of the Buccaneers’ season, no one could
have realized the ball’s historical significance at the time. It was only after
the loss, and Brady’s stunning announcement a week later, that the true value
of the piece became apparent.
Just 40 days later, the GOAT announced his "unretirement," planning to return for the 2022 NFL season. It is worth noting, however, that at this point in time, TB12 has not yet returned to the gridiron, and should things change between now and the start of the season, this could, in fact, still be Brady's final touchdown ball.
Unlike other items used in the commission of a famous
last event, this ball has dual significance because it was also used to establish
Tom Brady’s record of 86 career playoff touchdowns. To put that number in its
proper perspective, the player in second place, Joe Montana, has a total of 45.
Like most of Brady’s passing records, it is a mark that will almost certainly stand
the test of time.
As mentioned earlier, this ball has been consigned directly
from the fan who caught it after Evans tossed it into the stands. That impeccable
provenance notwithstanding, the ball has also been conclusively photo matched. The
Wilson Official NFL football features a large NFL logo on side panel, below
which, on a separate panel is a silver oval bearing the Buccaneers’ team logo
and the number “435.” Additionally, that same panel displays numerous small
white “specks” that are a byproduct of its game use. Both the number “435” and
the “specks” can be clearly seen in two closeup Getty Images (1237945845 and
1366493887) of Evans as he makes his fourth-quarter touchdown catch.
It is only through an incredible stroke of luck that this ball is
available to private collectors. If Evans had not tossed it into the stands, it
would still be in the possession of the Buccaneers and would never be offered
publicly. Lelands too has experienced a second stroke of good fortune. It was less
than a year ago that we offered Tom Brady’s first career touchdown ball (Lot 5;
2021 Mid-Spring Classic; realized $428,841). Ironically, Brady’s first
touchdown ball, like his "last," was also tossed into the stands by the receiver
who caught it (Terry Glenn). Whether or not Brady adds to his miraculous totals in the regular season and playoffs, this ball is still very historically important with the potential of immense value should it remain his last.
Comes with full letter of authenticity and photo-match by MeiGray.