Those wanting to own a piece of the Cincinnati Bengals biggest stars will have to dig deeper into their pockets.
The price of memorabilia from quarterback Joe Burrow, wide receivers Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins have skyrocketed due to the team’s recent success, according to owners of local sports cards/memorabilia stores.
If the Bengals win the next three games — Sunday’s AFC Divisional matchup against the Buffalo Bills, the AFC Championship next weekend and the Super Bowl on Feb. 12 — the prices for autographs and memorabilia are expected to only increase, the owners said.
Today’s superstars, because of their enormous contracts, don’t have to make personal paid to sign autographs as much as players from yesteryear.
Burrow, for instance, has signed an undisclosed, exclusive contract with Fanatics.
Prices for his autographed items, according to the Fanatics website, range from $299 for a mini Bengals helmet to $799 for a full-size helmet.
His autographed rookie cards from 2020, depending on the manufacturer, have sold for $2,125 to $5,000 on eBay.
Chase’s certified autographed cards have sold for $800, while Higgins’ have sold for $180 on eBay.
Terry Carter, owner of TCI Sports Fan in Dayton, said the popularity of the current Bengals reminds him of players from the franchise’s last Super Bowl team that lost to the San Francisco 49ers.
But back then, card companies didn’t insert random autographed cards in their packs. That has only increased the demand and the price.
“Quadruple what it was back then,” is how it was described by Carter, who has been in the sports card business for 40 years, 25 years on Linden Avenue.
He has owned a few autographed Burrow and Chase cards that were pulled from packs, but they were sold within a few days.
Carter said football packs from 2020 range from $30 to $129 each and packs from 2021, Chase’s rookie season, cost between $13 to $150 a pack. Buying a pack doesn’t guarantee an autographed card of your favorite player.
“It’s a big gamble,” Carter said.
There aren’t many gambles in the card industry larger than buying a box of 2020 Flawless, said Kevin Ashcraft, owner of Hooterville Sports Cards in Fairfield. Three years ago, he sold those boxes for $5,750. Today they’re $12,000 for 10 cards.
“There is no cap to the prices,” said Ashcraft, in business for 30 years. “It’s supply and demand and right now the demand is incredible. It’s crazy. Things are nuts. I’ve seen nothing like this.”
The only thing close, he said, was the demand for Kobe Bryant items after his death and Michael Jordan following the release of his documentary, “The Last Dance.”
While Mark Fugate, who owns Sports Gallery near Fairfield, specializes in Cincinnati Reds memorabilia and autographs, he has seen a spike in interest in Bengals items. He has sold several 16x20 framed and autographed photos of Burrow for $500.
When he attends out-of-town card shows, Fugate, a Middletown High School graduate, looks for inexpensive Bengals cards. Of the hundred or more he has purchased, he only has a few left in the store.
Fugate said one of his customers told him he purchased a game-used Burrow jersey from this season for $20,000. Then he sold it to another collector for $40,000.
“That’s ludicrous,” said Fugate, who said he owns Pete Rose jerseys from the 1960s that wouldn’t sell for $40,000. “It’s all about who’s popular right now.”
HOW TO WATCH
WHAT: AFC Divisional Playoffs, Cincinnati Bengals (12-4) at Buffalo Bills (13-3)
WHEN: 3 p.m. Sunday
WHERE: Highmark Stadium
LINES: Bills minus 5.5; Over/under: 48.5
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