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What’s Up With Brock Purdy in the Trading Card Hobby?

After he stepped into the spotlight in San Francisco, the Brock Purdy rookie card market has done some unexpected things. Let’s explore what’s happening here.

Brock Purdy, the unlikely incumbent starting QB of the San Francisco 49ers, is suddenly a trading card hobby darling — and there appears to be no slowing down for this season’s Mr. Irrelevant.

The last pick of the 2022 NFL Draft, Purdy came in for Jimmy Garoppolo after the veteran suffered a season-ending injury in a game against the Miami Dolphins on Dec. 4. Purdy was then tasked with making his NFL first start against the one and only GOAT, Tom Brady, and the Tampa Buccaneers. He led the Niners to a 35-7 victory, their NFL-leading sixth consecutive victory and the largest winning margin they’ve posted this season.

Thanks to winning his first two games, propelling San Francisco to the No. 3 seed in the NFC, and generally capturing imaginations basically out of nowhere, Brock Purdy’s trading cards have exploded in value.

For example, Brock’s autograph card /99 from Panini Certified — considered a low-end set — sold on eBay for $35 on Dec. 6. That same card sold for $965 on Dec. 13, two days after the 49ers’ Week 14 win over TB 12 and the Bucs.

So, what’s actually going on here? How far can hobbyists and investors read into all this? Let’s take a closer look.

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Why did Brock Purdy’s card values skyrocket?

When it comes to the hobby, especially if we’re talking about a rookie, it can take as little as one really great performance for your stock to take a leap. For Purdy, it took a bit more than that, but his trendline is impressive nonetheless. He came in for Jimmy G against a high-flying Dolphins team as the conventional wisdom held that the Niners were toast; rather, he threw a pair of touchdowns and helped his team win that game by two scores. He turned right around and thrashed Tampa Bay, posting two more TDs through the air and one on the ground alongside an impressive QB rating of 134.0.

The hobby noticed. As Slabstox noted this week:

Purdy isn’t “just” a rookie quarterback; he simply doesn’t have all that many cards out there to collect given his status as the very last pick of the 2022 draft’s very last round. With all that scarcity in mind, his card values rose all the more quickly.

Are we seeing the beginning of what Justin Herbert ultimately showed us during his rookie year in 2020, or a parellel of Joe Burrow’s breakout last season? Herbert broke the record for most touchdown passes by a rookie, while Burrow led the Bengals to their first Super Bowl appearance in over 30 years, and their rookie cards became must-haves as a result. With QBs sporting the highest values by far when it comes to NFL trading cards and with Purdy suddenly steering the ship for a very, very good 49ers team that just bested Tom Brady, it’s worth wondering what sort of staying power the former Iowa State signal-caller truly could have.

Currently, the Niners are atop the NFC West and hold the No. 3 seed in the conference, which is enough reason to hope for a deep playoff run despite starting their third quarterback this season. If they were to somehow win the Super Bowl or come impressively close like Burrow did a year ago, we could be in for the sort of seismic activity that hasn’t been seen in the hobby since Tom Brady won his first Super Bowl as an unsung former sixth-rounder.

Even if things don’t go that far, the evolution of a Brock Purdy rookie card from wholly irrelevant to selling for upwards $1,000 a pop is the coolest kind of collectibles oddity.

This is what makes the hobby special.

One of the biggest recurring gripes in the hobby is the sheer number of cards in each set, as it inevitably means ripping cards of players you’ve never heard of or won’t expect to see on the field. In Purdy’s case, he could have easily become one of those guys who simply never starts an NFL game and quietly falls out of the league. He was the last pick in the draft to a team that already had No. 3 overall pick Trey Lance and Garoppolo ahead of him on the depth chart.

Tom Brady, famously the 199th overall pick in 2000, was once fourth on the New England Patriots’ depth chart. Eventually, fate handed him an opportunity and he became the greatest quarterback of all time. Now, to be fair, we’re not saying Purdy is the next Tom Brady — but his collectors can surely dream. After all, just about nobody outside of Bill Belichick and diehard Patriots fans thought Brady would win more than one Super Bowl, let alone seven rings in 10 appearances.

These days, Brady’s 2000 Playoff Contenders Ticket Auto easily sells over $1 million with a sufficient grade.

All TB12 needed was a shot. And with the playoffs now just a few weeks away, Purdy’s now getting his.

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