Forget raising taxes. Why not clear out Bill Bradley’s basement to pay off the debt? With the former Knick looking better with each Gallup Poll, Bradley memorabilia is flying off retailer shelves.
“His stock is definitely on the rise,” says Paul Franchi of Yesterday & Today Sports Collectibles in Eastchester, New York. “And as his campaign grows, so will the price of memorabilia related to him.” Franchi recently unloaded his last framed autographed Bradley photo for $250. And according to the December Beckett Basketball Card Price Guide, considered the industry standard, Dollar Bill’s 1969-70 Topps rookie card (#43) goes for 115 dollar bills. Last year, says, Franchi, it was close to $40.
Of course, if Bradley falters, like former NFL star/vice presidential candidate Jack Kemp did in 1996, his prices will level off. Kemp’s 1960 Fleer rookie card (#124) still books for $300, off $200 from its 1996 high, but it’s not like Kemp cards are on anyone’s Christmas list this year. Just like the stock market, it’s buy low, sell high.
“I got Charles Barkley to sign a George magazine. It was their second issue and he was dressed as George Washington,” says Franchi. “It was on my wall for two years. The week John F. Kennedy Jr. passed away, though, I sold it for $350. The point I’m trying to make here is that it was the JFK bandwagon that did it, just like it’s the Bradley bandwagon that’s driving his current stuff.”
Before the start of the season, Giants head coach Jim Fassel said that the play of running back Tiki Barber would be a key to the team’s success. “He needs to improve if we’re going to get better,” stated the coach.
Well, he has. Barber made eight catches in New York’s stunning 19-17 win in Buffalo, including a 15-yard reception on third and 15 that kept his team’s winning field-goal drive alive. Drafted in the second round in 1997 to serve as a third-down specialist à la former Giant Dave Meggett, Barber has elevated his level of play to nearly that of his predecessor.
Throughout the season, New York beat writers have suggested that Barber be used more. But he has averaged 3.2 catches and 3.9 carries per game this season, meaning that he has actually been used more than Meggett was in the same role (Meggett averaged 2.4 catches and 2.8 carries per game during his career in New York). His 410 receiving yards this season are a career high.
Barber has also emerged as the team’s primary punt returner—a job Meggett held for six seasons. So far, he has averaged 12.2 yards per return (Meggett averaged 10.6 yards per return during his career).
Like Meggett, Barber has also shown a propensity to make big plays. In addition to his third-down catch Sunday, Barber returned a punt 85 yards for a touchdown on October 18 against Dallas and made a 56-yard catch to put the Giants in position to kick a game-winning field goal in that game. With his team now 7-6, Barber has the chance to accomplish something else Meggett used to do—lead his team into the playoffs.
Sports Editor: Miles D. Seligman