Baltimore might not be represented in today’s Super Bowl in Las Vegas, but one of its most famous players — the late Johnny Unitas — has made quite a splash.

The Hall of Fame quarterback’s personal items raised at least $500,000 this weekend as part of the 17th annual Super Bowl Live Auction, which featured more than 1,000 football-related items, including hundreds from Unitas’ personal collection. This was the first time Unitas’ items were available for auction.

Top sellers included: a Johnny Unitas 1970 Baltimore Colts Super Bowl V championship ring, which was sold for $258,500; a 1958 Baltimore Colts 14K gold championship ring, which sold for $152,750; professional model high-top cleats, which sold for $27,025; a 1979 Football Hall of Fame induction ring ($38,175); and the 1967 NFL Most Valuable Player award ($64,625).

Each of the items was accompanied by a letter of provenance from the Unitas family. A portion of the proceeds benefited NFL Auction Charities.

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“He cherished the time with his Baltimore Colts teammates during the amazing run in the 1950-70s era in which they won several NFL Championships,” Unitas’ family wrote in a press release from Hunt Auctions and NFL Auction. “Johnny was always deeply appreciative of his loyal Baltimore fans who supported him throughout the entirety of his career and post career life.”

Known as “The Golden Arm,” Unitas is one of football’s most iconic players. After starring at the University of Louisville and being drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers, Unitas ultimately signed with the Colts in 1956. By 1958, Unitas led them to the NFL championship. In all Unitas racked up three NFL championships, one Super Bowl championship, three NFL MVP awards and numerous passing records.

Unitas wasn’t the only Baltimore name that made bank at the Super Bowl auction. Alongside other items from players such as Tom Brady and Brock Purdy, a 2022 game-worn Ravens jersey from the NFL’s newest Most Valuable Player, Lamar Jackson, sold for $22,325.

John-John Williams IV is a diversity, equity and inclusion reporter at The Baltimore Banner. A native of Syracuse, N.Y. and a graduate of Howard University, he has lived in Baltimore for the past 17 years. 

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