As human beings trying to do good on Earth, life should not always be about money. We should be more concerned with how we treat others, and once we leave this place, when others are asked about us, they should be able to genuinely say that we were good instead of simply offering platitudes. However, we all have bills. The mortgage lender, the cell phone provider, and the electric company don’t care about how much good we do in the world, they want our money monthly. A fortunate few on this planet will be literally handed enough money to take care of their obligations.
That happened to Byron Kennedy. Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady completed a touchdown pass to wide receiver Mike Evans on Sunday to give the Buccaneers a 21-0 lead against the Chicago Bears. That touchdown pass was career No. 600 for Brady, the only quarterback in NFL history to reach that number. History was not at the front of Evans’ mind when he caught his first of three touchdown passes on the day. Evans handed the ball to the fan and was mortified when he found out the significance of the ball.
How much could that ball have been worth? Let’s start at the high end of sports memorabilia. Matt Murphy retrieved Barry Bonds’ record-setting 756th home run in 2007. He sold that ball to designer Marc Ecko for $752,467. Baseball memorabilia tends to sell for more, and the home run crown was the most renowned record in sports.
Still, it is Tom Brady. No one has ever thrown for 600 touchdowns, and who knows if anyone else ever will. Also, people usually don’t get footballs as souvenirs. The players are good about not giving momentous footballs out to fans. Ken Goldin of Goldin Auctions said the ball could have been sold for $500,000, and this isn’t like the jersey heist of Super Bowl LI. Evans literally handed Kennedy the ball. It was his.
Fortunately for Brady, Kennedy was in a generous mood, and the Buccaneers staff acted swiftly. A negotiation took place on the field and a team employee got the ball back for Brady. In appreciation, the Buccaneers gave Kennedy a $1,000 gift card to the team store, and TB12 Sports is offering him a free body coach session.
Kennedy is not the first person to end up giving the souvenir back to the player. In 2017, then-Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Albert Pujols hit his 600th career home run. Unlike Murphy, after Scott Steffel got the ball, he went out to the field during Pujols’ post-game interview and gave him the ball. Steffel was later invited to Angels Stadium to throw out a first pitch.
In 2019, Ely Hydes retrieved Pujols’ 2000th RBI ball in Detroit. He did not relinquish the prized memorabilia immediately, but he eventually gave the ball to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Giving the ball back to the professional athlete is always an admirable gesture. It is the athlete who worked at sculpting a craft over a lifetime to be able to achieve a milestone with that ball, and the athlete will appreciate it more than anyone else. On the other hand, it’s not like the athletes aren’t properly compensated for those milestones. They do get trophies, money, and free meals.
So to each their own for whatever they decide to do when they hit the lottery by having one of these momentous souvenirs in their hands, but the Buccaneers should’ve done better by Kennedy. That, or TB12 Sports should’ve given Kennedy a free membership and promised him that they will make his body and face age like Brady’s.