There may be no more prestigious position in sports than that of starting quarterback in the Super Bowl. For decades children have made believe they were signal-callers in the world’s most spectacular single-day sporting event, while adults have written books, produced documentaries and hotly debated the merits of the 110 quarterbacks who have started in Super Bowls I through LV before Matthew Stafford and Joe Burrow.
With Super Bowl LVI upon us, a whole new round of discussion is underway. While this weekend’s game does not allow us yet another opportunity to wonder about Tom Brady and his superhuman abilities, that does not mean there is no meat on this proverbial bone. In fact, this season’s Super Bowl match-up offers some very interesting points to consider at quarterback.
Super Bowl LVI pits the Los Angeles Rams against the Cincinnati Bengals. There are many different story lines one can travel down for this game, but the showdown between quarterbacks is a particularly fun one. The Rams’ Matthew Stafford spent the first 12 years of his career trying to right the ship of a struggling Detroit Lions franchise. He was traded to the Rams following the 2020 season, and promptly led them to a 12-5 regular season record, three wins in the playoffs and a shot at immortality in Super Bowl LVI. Opposing Stafford is the Bengals’ QB, Joe Burrow, a second-year player whose rookie campaign was cut short due to a season-ending knee injury in Cincinnati’s 10th game of the year. A national champion and Heisman Trophy winner in his senior season at LSU, Burrow now has his first shot at an even bigger title in the NFL.
At first glance Burrow and Stafford don’t seem to have much in common other than playing the same position on the gridiron. However, a closer look reveals some interesting links between the two. Both spent their collegiate years starring in the tough Southeastern Conference and earned All-America honors in their final seasons. Each was the first overall selections in their respective NFL Draft classes (Stafford in 2009 and Burrow in 2020) and as such received plenty of early attention from collectors. Stafford faded from the hobby eye during his years in Detroit and Burrow’s cards cooled after his injury. Together they have led two fourth-seeded teams to the Super Bowl for the first time in NFL history, and now are competing for the title of Super Bowl Champion. Needless to say, both quarterbacks are also basking in the glow of the hobby spotlight.
Stafford and Burrow each have a plethora of cards that run that span a wide price range, but let’s take a look at two of these gunslingers’ most important rookie cards. As you might have guessed, they were issued by the same brand, albeit 11 years apart! The National Treasures line is responsible for some of the greatest football cards released in the last 20 years. Their patch-autograph rookie cards are hobby classics and account for some of Stafford and Burrow’s most desirable pasteboards.
Stafford’s National Treasures Signature Material rookie card has a horizontal format and combines a large jersey swatch with a signature in the bottom-right corner. The Lions’ classic Honolulu blue-and-silver color scheme gives this card a look of importance that is fitting for a potential Super Bowl champion. PSA’s Auction Prices Realized shows the first PSA 10 example selling for $585 in 2017. After several years of limited growth, another Gem Mint 10 example finally sold for $4,500 in February 2021. None have since publicly traded hands. This card is numbered to just 99, so they don’t surface often. What one would fetch in today’s market is anyone’s guess!
By the time that Burrow’s Patch Autographs card was released, National Treasures was among the most desirable of annual football products. Combined with the fact that some people were calling him the greatest college football player of all time, Burrows cards was an instant must-have for high-end collectors. To date just eight examples have been submitted to PSA for grading with three currently residing in PSA Mint 9 holders. Only one sale has been recorded on APR, and it was purchased for $14,205. Note: The dual-grade example shown here resides in the PSA/DNA Pop Report because the customer requested dual-service (autograph and card). Burrow is among the hottest players in the game right now, so the sky is the limit for this card.
One thing is for certain, and that is while only one of these quarterbacks will be adding Super Bowl champion to his resume this weekend, it’s probably best to have both of them in your collection!