Yes, THE FINEST. Don't believe it? Just ask foremost expert and PSA/DNA Photo Authenticator Henry Yee, who was so moved by the discovery that he took the unusual step of declaring, "It is without question the single most important football photograph to ever be offered in a public auction."
As avid collectors well know, the value of Type I original photos used for iconic sports cards has been skyrocketing to astronomical levels. Over the past 5 years, photos from Mantle's 1951 Bowman and 1952 Topps cards have sold for $72,000 and $60,000, while just in recent months, a 1933 Goudey Gehrig by Charles Conlon likewise hit $60,000.
With its large "tall boy" dimensions and its subject's brash playboy persona, the 1965 Topps Namath rookie has much in common with the '52 Mantle. Above all, both represent the premier card of the Postwar Era in their respective sport. Interestingly, Broadway Joe told the then-secret history of the card's photo shoot on the Late Show with David Letterman in 2011, saying, "I had my first knee operation at Lenox Hill Hospital. I'd lost 27 pounds, I was in bed for 8 days and our media director came into the room carrying shoulder pads and a jersey and the football. He said, 'Joe, the show must go on.' They took me out of bed on crutches. I went out in the hall, leaned up against the wall and we took that picture." (A video clip of Letterman holding the card while Namath shares the story is linked on our website and begins at the 8-minute mark.)
What Joe Willie left out of his account was the identity of that legendary photographer Bob Olen—official shutterbug for both the Yankees and Jets, and one of the most sought-after sources of news-service photography among collectors today. (Olen is assumed to have been behind the lens for the aforementioned '51 Bowman Mantle shot as well.)
Never before has a Type I original surfaced from Joe Namath's rookie card, and there's no telling what this 8x10 beauty may sell for. But one thing's for sure: In the realm of football photo collecting, it will be record-breaking. We guarantee it.
Typical minor peripheral wear from publication usage. Full LOA from PSA/DNA.
"This renowned image is perhaps the most iconic football portrait in our hobby and it is without question the single most important football photograph to ever be offered in a public auction. It is the work of noted New York sports photographer Bob Olen (1923-2001), who shot for many of the New York sports teams including his tenure as the official sports photographer of the New York Yankees in the late forties and fifties. Olen served as the official New York Jets team photographer from 1964 to 1967 and several of his portraits were used by the Topps Chewing Gum Company for their cards including this classic shot of the rookie who would become known simply as 'Broadway Joe.'"
-- Henry Yee, PSA/DNA Photo Authentication Services