Bart Starr posed with members of the 1982 Packers team when they were honored at Lambeau Field during the halftime of the Packers' season-opener. Autographs of former players is big business. Raymond T. Rivard photograph

Let's break from the Draft and take a quick look at sports memorabilia


I’ve never been into sports memorabilia too much, but apparently there are a lot of people who are, especially when it comes to the NFL and the Green Bay Packers. I came across some information about the business recently and because I’m not a real memorabilia hound, it caught my eye and I thought that to get away from all the draft hype for a few minutes that I would share some of what I found.

In total, it’s a $12 billion per year industry (unsigned), with the signed portion of the industry making up $1.5 billion in sales. That’s a lot of change.

Take a scroll through some of the sites that offer Packers autographed items and it could empty your piggybank in a hurry. For instance, a Brett Favre autographed jersey will set you back close to $500, but then you can get an autographed Carroll Dale 8×10 photograph for $60.

If you want a helmet signed by both Brett Favre and Bart Starr? Well, get ready to shell out more than $1,200 – and that’s just one memorabilia house I checked online. In other words, yes it’s big business and people take it very seriously.

Though the Packers aren’t tops statistically in these annual sales, according to SportsMemorabilia.com, the team is in the top four as far a popularity. You might have guessed it – the Dallas Cowboys are tops in memorabilia sales, followed by the New York Giants, Pittsburgh Steelers and then the Packers. In total, according to SportsMemorabilia.com, the NFL makes up 34 percent of the total autographed sales, Major League Baseball is right behind at 26 percent. The NBA makes up 10 percent and the NHL and college sports make up 7 percent.

So, who’s the most popular player in the NFL in memorabilia? Is it Joe Montana? Walter Payton? Emmitt Smith?

Nope, it’s Eli Manning. Yeah, I said the same thing. He was followed closely by Michael Jordan and Eli’s brother, you know whats-his-name.

You might also be surprised that Ray Lewis is even ahead of Joe Montana.

Here’s some information provided by SportsMemorabilia.com:

Baseball and football’s dominance of the memorabilia market is also supported by statistics that separate sales by item. The most-sold items are those that are not sport-specific, such as autographed jerseys (24% of all sales) and photos (23%). The next most frequently purchased items clearly confirm the strength of the NFL and MLB in this market. Signed helmets and baseballs each encompass eight percent of total sales, followed by footballs (5%) and mini-helmets (3%).

The NFL and MLB’s hold on the market is not overly shocking considering the geographic breakdown of sales. Football is popular primarily in the United States, and baseball is often called “America’s Pastime.” SportsMemorabilia.com reports that 93% of all memorabilia sales occur in the United States. Within the U.S, most memorabilia sales are from customers in California, New York, Texas, Florida, and New Jersey.

The average order value of autographed memorabilia is $180, but can be as high as $300. The most expensive piece of memorabilia ever sold was Babe Ruth’s game-used jersey, sold at $4.4 million.

The nifty infographic below also has some tidbits of information about the industry.

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