Aaron Hernandez (1989-2017) was a former tight end who was drafted by the New England Patriots as a fourth-round pick in 2010. He made one Super Bowl appearance in XLVI, after striking up a dominant partnership with Rob Gronkowski.
Hernandez was dismissed from the team following the player being charged for the murder of Odin Lloyd, who was dating the sister of Hernandez’s fiancée at the time. He was found guilty in 2015 and was found dead in his cell days later after committing suicide.
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That got pretty dark, quickly.
Here’s a roundup of the top Aaron Hernandez rookie cards, as well as investment advice for the next few years.
Top 3 Aaron Hernandez Rookie Cards
Hernandez’s RCs come from the 2010 season, and he’s featured in all of the biggest sets. We’ve picked out three of the most popular overall, so let’s get started.
2010 Panini Threads Aaron Hernandez RC #151 /441 (buy on eBay)
We’ll begin with a great Letterman card, which has a black-and-white design. From the 2010 Panini Threads release, it’s numbered to just 441 copies. The white section of the Letter is signed by Hernandez*, while there’s a tiny image of the player found in the top right corner.
*It probably counts as an on-card auto.
If you’re on the lookout for a signed option, it’s hard to think of any that are better, unless you’re checking out the card found below.
2010 Playoff Contenders Aaron Hernandez RC #101 (buy on eBay)
The 2010 Playoff Contenders is another expensive option, despite the autograph being stickered. It has a simple grey and white design, with his name brandished along the card in large letters. The auto is found at the bottom, and there’s a small rookie ticket found on the right.
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It’s worth noting that there are only 22 gem mint copies, which is one of the reasons why it’s often the most expensive Hernandez RC you’ll see at auction. The lack of an on-card auto is a shame, but it shouldn’t stop you if you want it purely from an investment standpoint.
2010 Topps Peak Performance Aaron Hernandez RC #PPAAH (buy on eBay)
Finally, there’s Hernandez’s release from the Topps Peak Performance Autograph Cards subset. It features an action shot of the player from behind, as he stretches to catch a football. (Of course, you can tell who it is thanks to his jersey name and number, which are displayed prominently.)
The background is made up of stars, while the auto is given a prominent spot in the middle of the card. It’s the most affordable option of the three we’ve listed, and it has a great licensed image of Hernandez during better times.
Aaron Hernandez Rookie Card Value
- Most Expensive: 2010 Playoff Contenders RC Auto
- Most Common On eBay Auctions: None really stand out from our research
Aaron Hernandez Rookie Cards: Buyers & Investment Advice
Hernandez looked like he was going to be a star, but died before the age of 30. It’s scant consolation for the victim’s family, but the player was diagnosed with CTE following his death, which may give some explanation for his irrational actions at the time.
Take this quote by Dr. Ann McKee, who studied his brain while working at Boston University’s CTE Center. She told a news conference that they’d never seen so much damage “in our 468 brains, except for individuals very much older,” while “individuals with similar gross findings…were at least 46 years old at the time of death.”
In other words, his brain was the worst seen by experts when factoring in for his age. It’s another reminder of the toll that football takes, and what the players put themselves through each time they step onto the field.
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Some collectors will actively avoid his cards, and that’s pretty understandable. It’s a sorry affair, and it’s probably not a good idea to base your centerpiece card or collection on a player who was convicted of murder, and linked to a couple more.
Time heals all most wounds, but it’ll take an age to see Hernandez’s cards being seen as a conversation piece, rather than a stark reminder of what happened. Then again, there’s a significant market for OJ cards, and that’s after ‘the trial of the century’.
If you really want a Hernandez RC, and would like to see a decent ROI, it would have to be the longest of long-term investments. We need more time to forget, and a signed card probably isn’t the best way to do so. However, they are available at rock-bottom prices, so it’s down to you to decide… we would pass.
Investment Rating: 4.5 out of 10
Best Aaron Hernandez Rookie Card: 2010 Playoff Contenders Aaron Hernandez Rookie Card #101
Rookie Card Ramblings Ownership: None