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The fan who gave back Tom Brady’s 600th touchdown ball made a huge mistake

A Bucs fan was handed a game ball that could be worth half a million dollars ... but he decided to give it back to Tom Brady.

Byron Kennedy put on his Mike Evans jersey and headed to Raymond James Stadium to take his front row seat for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ game against the Chicago Bears on Sunday. At the time, the 29-year-old Bucs fan had no idea was going was going to be handed an incredibly valuable piece of sports memorabilia before willingly deciding to give it up.

Bucs quarterback Tom Brady entered the game against the Bears with an NFL record 598 touchdowns. With two touchdown tosses, Brady would become the first player in NFL history to throw 600 TDs. After throwing his first touchdown to Chris Godwin minutes earlier, Brady put himself in position to hit the round number as the Bucs capitalized on a Chicago fumble near the end of the first quarter.

On 3rd-and-7 from the 9-yard line, Brady dropped back to pass and hit Evans for the TD. Evans apparently didn’t realize this was touchdown No. 600, because he ran to the back of the end zone and handed the ball to Kennedy, the fan wearing his jersey in the stands.

Minutes later, a Bucs staffer approached Kennedy to get the ball back for Brady. Kennedy agreed and gave it up. That was a costly decision.

CBS sideline reporter Tracy Wolfson got the initial scoop, saying the Bucs were going to send Kennedy another ball and a signed jersey. Announcers Tony Romo and Jim Nantz immediately exclaimed “that’s a bad deal!” — and, well — they aren’t wrong.

The sports memorabilia market is hot right now. How much could Kennedy have sold the ball for? He was almost certainly looking at something in the six figure range. One auction leader estimated the ball could have pulled in $600K on the open market.

Brady was asked about getting the ball back in the post-game press conference after the Bucs went on to win a rout, 38-3, over the Bears.

Brady said he doesn’t keep too many things from games, but he wanted to keep this touchdown ball. He said he’d give Kennedy “something nice in return.” The Athletic’s Greg Auman reported the fan was getting a $1K gift certificate to the Bucs’ team store in addition to a replacement ball.

The Tampa Bay Times caught up with Kennedy after the game. He said he was hesitant to give up the ball, but ultimately did it out of his respect for Brady.

“I knew how much it meant to Tom,” said Kennedy, who was given a different ball after handing over the historic one, “and I was willing to trade.”

Kennedy is a better dude than me, because I would be running out of the stadium the second I was handed that ball. Imagine potentially giving up half a million dollars. He’s got to be sick. Fortunately, it sounds like Kennedy has a pretty good career for himself.

Our favorite part of this whole incident? Mike Evans realizing that was a pretty important touchdown ball he gave away.

It ended up not being a costly mistake for Evans, but giving the ball away sure was one for Kennedy.