New England Patriots fan Daniel Vitale is suing the team over a U.S. flag autographed by Tom Brady. The fan loaned the flag to the Patriots for their Hall of Fame, and he alleges the team damaged the piece of valuable memorabilia, per a report from the Associated Press.
The flag flew over Foxboro Stadium during the 2001-2002 season, which was the last in the venue's existence. Vitale bought the flag in 2020 in hopes of holding it as an investment, but he told the AP that it still holds a lot of value to him personally.
"I am a die-hard Patriots fan and have been for 40 years," Vitale said. "That flag was so significant to me because it was right after 9/11 and it was the last regular-season game at Foxboro Stadium."
The flag, which features Brady's autograph in blue Sharpie, is described as "a priceless piece of sports memorabilia and historical artifact."
Vitale loaned the flag to the Patriots in June 2021 so they could display it in their Hall of Fame. Just months later, Vitale asked for the flag back because Brady, now with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, was thinking about retirement.
When the flag was returned to Vitale, he claims that Brady's autograph was faded. In his lawsuit, Vitale alleges that the Patriots' Hall of Fame did not have the lighting or the display case necessary to protect the autograph. The lawsuit also claims that there was a "significant gap" in the glass that allowed light and heat to pass through and deteriorate the signature.
The lawsuit states that the value of the flag dropped by anywhere from hundreds of thousands of dollars to $1 million.
Vitale told the AP that his daughter has autism, and the family was hoping to get money to help hire a full-time nanny to help care for her. Vitale also said he has tried contacting the Patriots directly, but after not getting much of a response he chose to file the lawsuit.
"I've tried to do everything I can to settle with these guys, but they don't even want to talk to us," Vitale said.