Investing in Sports Collectibles: The Athletes to Avoid


With investors looking for other options on where to put some of their nest egg, we had been looking at the benefits of investing a small portion of that capital into the sports collectibles market. Yesterday I shared the athletes who you should be investing in today, but we didn’t discuss the athletes you should steer clear of. Now, if someone offers you a good deal on a Frank Tanana autograph baseball, I would definitely tell you that is not the best investment (no offense Frank). But this is not about obscure or local players. We are talking about the big names who you would not want to purchase today because there is too much hype around them or because there are just better times to buy. If you have authentic autographs of these players in your collection right now, you are looking good, but now is certainly not the time to buy their collectibles.

Here are the top athletes I believe fans should look to avoid collecting autographed sports memorabilia of right now:

#10 – Michael Vick – Long story short, you missed your window. Had you been swooping up signatures of Mike Vick for next to nothing while he was incarcerated, you would be laughing all the way to the bank today. Very few felt he would be able to come back and perform as well as he has and that swing has made it very difficult to get close to his autographed items at a rational price. With so much anticipation around the Eagles “dream team” this season, there are no deals to be had on his collectibles right now.

Mike Vick has certainly made an amazing comeback in Philadelphia and now his collectibles are just a little too hot to get a good deal on.

#9 – Dirk Nowitzki – I love Dirk Nowitzki, but I believe interest in his signed collectibles will be fleeting. I don’t think the Mavericks will return as NBA champs in the near future and I think the love affair fans are having with Dirk will end as the Mavs struggle to repeat. There is another element of Dirk’s signed collectibles that I really dislike and that is his signature. It is not uncommon for athletes to change their signatures, but when it turns into something less than what it was, I think that is a problem. Check out how cool Dirk’s signature used to be:

Early in his career Dirk had a really unique signature.

And now look at it today:

Today his signature basically looks like a "DN."

He is a great player and will likely be a Hall-of-Famer, but if I were collecting his memorabilia, I would chase the authentic items from his early years when his signature was more compelling.

#8 – Mariano Rivera – If you already have authentic signed memorabilia of Mariano Rivera in your collection you are golden, but if you are looking to acquire it, hold the boat! He will become the MLB all-time save leader this season or next and when that happens, interest will just be too high. The right time to buy collectibles of Yankee players is after they are coming off a bad season well after the holidays, but before spring training. February is always a great month to get good value on MLB collectibles because you have the Super Bowl, the NHL All-Star Game and the NBA All-Star Game taking place around that time so people are not really thinking about purchasing baseball collectibles. Strike when demand is low!

Rivera is on the cusp of breaking Trevor Hoffman's save record so deman on his items is just too high right now.

#7 – Winnipeg Jets – I was just laughing to myself yesterday thinking about how much Winnipeg Jets apparel has been sold in the last couple weeks. I did so because I saw a picture of a fan who won a special painting from Upper Deck at his local hobby shop and right next to him was a fan who was rocking his new Winnipeg Jets shirt. There is HUGE interest in the Jets right now so this is not the time to find a good deal on an autograph item from a Winnipeg Jets legend like Dale Hawerchuk. It is highly unlikely they are going to come out and win the Stanley Cup so just let interest die down a bit and look to pick up some items from this inaugural season later on this year after things have calmed down a bit.

Although the new logo was just revealed a couple weeks ago, I'm guessing about 80% of the population of Winnipeg now own a new hat or shirt displaying it. They are CRAZY for the return of the NHL up there.

#6 – Tim Tebow – Poor Tim Tebow. He is just a fantastic guy off the field and likely one of the greatest college quarterbacks in history, but he is really struggling to find his game in the NFL. It is unlikely he will be with the Broncos forever and by the time his career is over he will likely have played with quite a few teams. The only really safe purchase for Tebow signed collectibles right now are from his college years as a member of the Florida Gators. The only problem is that there is a lot of it.

It is uncertain what the future holds for Tim Tebow, but it certainly doesn't look good for him in Denver.

#5 – Tom Brady – I’m not afraid to admit that I have a man crush on Tom Brady. In my line of work I’ve had the pleasure of meeting a lot of athletes, but Tom was something else all together. He just exuded cool. And what he has accomplished already in his career has him in the conversation as one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game. There is so much hype around him however that it is hard to get an autographed item from him at a rational cost. People mob the guy for autographs wherever he goes. Tom is amazing for sure, but I wouldn’t recommend picking up any of his collectibles at this time.

Fans will do just about anything to get a signature from Tom Brady right now.

#4 – Stephen Strasburg – Investing in pitchers is always tricky. Unless it is an icon like Nolan Ryan, there just is not a lot of demand for their memorabilia. The simple fact is that Americans love position players over pitchers when it comes to collectibles. When we look at investing in sports collectibles, we want to acquire items that will have demand should we want to sell them and that will have low risk in terms of potentially depreciating. Pitchers have risk tied to them. And more than that, unproven pitchers with a lot of hype around them have tremendous risk tied to them. I hope Strasburg comes back from surgery and has an amazing career as we loved watching him when he was with the San Diego State Aztecs. He is not worth the risk however in terms of investing in his collectibles at this time.

Strasburg had huge hype around him even before he hit the majors.

#3 – Aaron Rodgers – The Green Bay Packers led by Aaron Rodgers truly had a season to remember last year. If you already have signed memorabilia of Aaron Rodgers in your collection, you are in a good place as they are a safe investment now that he has won a Super Bowl. In terms of picking them up now, I just do not feel the time is right given the fact there is still a lot of interest in him among the Cheesehead nation. If you want to pick them up, wait as he is still a little too hot right now.

If you have Rodgers collectibles in your collection already, good job! If you don't, you'll want to hold off a bit until interest cools down.

#2 – Derek Jeter – We’ve talked about when the right time to buy Yankees and MLB items with Rivera and how the timing is not right to purchase their collectibles now. Nobody on that list is hotter than Derek Jeter after he became a member of the 3,000 Hit-Club. There is a lot of demand for his collectibles right now and I can tell you without reservation that it is absolutely not the right time to buy as there are no deals to be had on Jeter. If you purchased when there was uncertainty about his future in New York and people were panicking, you likely got a good deal.

After capturing his 3,000th hit this season, you don't stand a chance at capturing an autograph of Jeter at a good price right now.

#1 – Peyton Manning – There are a lot of great guys on my list of players to avoid and I honestly feel bad putting Peyton as the #1 player to avoid collectible memorabilia of right now. It is a similar situation to Brady and Rodgers where there is just too much interest in these players right now. What’s more, I think there is a lot of wear on Peyton’s tires and as sad as it is to admit, he is in the twilight of his career. If you already have some of his signed items that you picked up before his Super Bowl victory, you are looking good. But hold off on purchasing any new Peyton Manning signed memorabilia until interest dies down in one of the games greatest players.

If you already have memorabilia of Peyton in your collection, you are looking good. Hold off on buying new items at this time however.

Do you agree? Disagree? Which players do you think make the best investment right now? Who would you avoid?

And if you are ready to start investing in sports memorabilia today, Upper Deck Authenticated has a special offer for you. Use the coupon code “INVEST” at checkout on orders* placed at and you will receive FREE shipping on your order. That code is only good through this weekend, so what are you waiting for, “INVEST” today!

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Loved the investment series but one thing that has me uneasy is that you didnt touch on Baseball’s “Steroid Era Players”. What are the good/bad guys to get. I know I have a Limit edtion Mark McGwire Making History ball along with his auto before he made that awsome home run chase in 98. What are your thoughts?


Great point Doug. Players that are commonly lumped into the steroid era like McGwire, Sosa, Canseco, Bonds, Palmeiro, Clemens, etc. have seen a huge dip in their collectibles, but values on many of them have been slowly on the rise. I believe the value on their collectibles will return, especially on Bonds and McGwire in particular. We are talking a long way down the line, perhaps 10-20 years however. It’s a long-term investment, but there are certainly plenty of deals to be found on these players today.


Again, I agree. It would also be helpful to know about their future signing habits. Since everything is supply and demand, if future demand is down and so is supply, these items should hold their value.

Tim Duncan is a good example. Although his demand is not the highest, he does not like to sign. As a result, his autographs sell well and at a relatively high price. Also, it seems that Tim Duncan values his privacy and he does not seem to need money to be happy. I do not believe there will ever be a huge supply of Tim Duncan autographed items.


What do you think Ryan Leaf & JaMarcus Russell cards will ever rebound to worth something?


Charlie, Duncan is likely an athlete that people will appreciate more and more over time as it sinks in what he accomplished in San Antonio.

Nik, collectibles of Leaf and Russell have almost become a novelty now since they were probably two of the biggest busts ever in the NFL. While they likely have more value than a no name player who never became anything, I certainly wouldn’t recommend investing in collectibles from them.


You’ve Alex Smith of the Niners as a member of this list too. For me, a “hot rookie” doesn’t exists because a college career is not a NFL career (as for Tim Tebow). And nothing about the Brett Favre re-re-re-re-return? ;)


Christian, I agree, Alex Smith is not someone I would want to invest in. As far as Brett Favre goes, he may have done irreparable damage to his collectibility in Green Bay. Fans just do not want his collectibles up there like they used to.


I STRONGLY disagree regarding Derek Jeter. I am a buy-and-hold investor and I feel that Jeter is the Mickey Mantle/Babe Ruth of our times. In years to come, his signed memorabilia will be worth plenty!

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