Football from AFC Championship Game sold for nearly $44K in auction

The only ball from this year's AFC Championship Game known to have made its way into the public domain sold Saturday morning for $43,740, one of the highest prices ever paid for a football.

Auction house Lelands.com sold the ball from the now famous "Deflategate" game on behalf of Laura Nichols, who was given the ball by New England Patriots wide receiver Brandon LaFell in the third quarter after his teammate LeGarrette Blount scored a touchdown.

Although the balls were reinflated to the proper levels for the second half, a report from attorney Ted Wells, commissioned by the NFL, said that they were in fact the same balls used during the first half.

So while it's unclear exactly how much that particular ball was used in the first half, it was in the rotation of deflated Patriots footballs. The Wells report cited the testing of four balls after the game.

The sale of the ball comes on the six-month anniversary of New England's 45-7 victory over the Indianapolis Colts.

Lelands.com chairman Joshua Evans said last month, when the item went on sale, that he could see it selling for more than $100,000. That didn't happen, but the final price still could be a record.

In August last year, a ball used in the most lopsided game in college football history (Georgia Tech beat Cumberland College 222-0 in 1916) was sold for $40,388.

Even $20,000 for a game-used football is rare. A football used in 1958 NFL championship game sold for $16,730 in February, and a game-used ball from Super Bowl XXXVI, signed by Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, sold for $4,915 in December.

In May, the league docked the Patriots two draft picks and fined the team $1 million for its role in Deflategate. Brady also was suspended four games, but he appealed the penalty to commissioner Roger Goodell. Brady and the NFL Players Association intend to take the case to federal court if the league doesn't eliminate his suspension, according to reports.