The Buccaneers apparently had to wheel and deal with a fan to get back Tom Brady’s historic 600th touchdown ball.
Brady made history in Tampa’s Week 7 victory over the Bears, with his fourth touchdown pass of the first half – to wide receiver Mike Evans — making him the first player in NFL history to throw 600 touchdown passes.
After Evans caught the 9-yard score to increase the Bucs’ lead to 21-0, he ran over to a fan wearing his No. 13 jersey and handed him the ball. It’s unclear if Evans knew the significance of the moment, but he gave a fan a very pricy souvenir.
Sports memorabilia expert Ken Goldin, founder of Goldin Auctions, wrote on Twitter that Brady’s 600th career TD ball could be worth “minimum of $500,000.”
Ezra Levine, CEO of the sports memorabilia investment platform Collectible, said the ball could be worth “easily $500,000-plus,” but “closer to $750,000.”
The outlet noted that in June, the ball from Brady’s first touchdown pass sold at auction for more than $428,000. Levine said that the 600th TD ball would sell for more money “given the historic accomplishment.”
Brady reportedly requested that the fan return the historic game ball, and video footage captured a member of the Bucs’ staff negotiating to get it back.
“[The Tampa Bay official] gave him another game ball and promised him some sort of signed jersey,” CBS sideline reporter Tracy Wolfson said on the broadcast.
Cowboys legend Tony Romo and sportscaster Jim Nantz joked on the broadcast that the Bucs must have offered “a million” or “a date with Gisele” Bundchen, Brady’s wife, in a deal for the ball.
The fan, who was sitting in the first row behind the end zone at Raymond James Stadium, was later identified by the Tampa Bay Times as 29-year-old Byron Kennedy, a resident at Largo Medical Center in Largo, Fla.
“I was hesitant to give it back. I knew how much it meant to Tom and I was willing to trade,” Kennedy said. The Florida native was apparently told he’d be gifted some Bucs gear.
After the game, Brady confirmed he got the ball back and teased the reward Kennedy will receive.
“I don’t actually keep too many things. In that circumstance I felt like that might be a good one to keep. He’s going to get something nice in return,” Brady said about the fan. “We’ll give him a helmet, a couple of jerseys or something. That was really cool of him to do that.”
Brady later reflected on the career milestone, calling it a “really cool” accomplishment.
“I got [the ball] in the bag over there. Mike gave it away and said: ‘Man, I’m sorry.’ I said, that’s all right, I’m sure they’ll figure out a way to get it back,” he recalled after the 6-1 Bucs dominated the 3-4 Bears.
Brady shared a special moment with another young fan during that game, who held up a sign that read, “Tom Brady helped me beat brain cancer.”
The seven-time Super Bowl champion noticed the sign, and ran over to the fan to shake his hand. Brady also gifted the young boy with a Bucs hat.