Take some trading cards picturing a disgraced NFL superstar. Add some dog slobber and teethmarks. What do you get? The most valuable Michael Vick cards — by far — on eBay, that's what.
Collector Rochelle Steffen of Cape Girardeau, Mo., gave every Vick card she owned to her dogs and let them go to town on the images of the Atlanta Falcons quarterback who is scheduled to plead guilty to a federal dogfighting charge Monday.
Once Monte, her 6-year-old Weimaraner, and Roxie, her Great Dane puppy, were done worrying them, nearly two dozen $1-$10 cards were crumpled, crimped, chewed, torn and generally in a sorry state. Some even had corners missing.
As of Thursday evening, the highest bid on the lot of 22 cards had risen to $455 and more than 2,000 people had viewed the posting. Seventy-seven people already have bid on the auction, which ends Sunday.
The next-most expensive Vick cards — well-preserved specimens from his rookie year — were going for less than half the price of the gnawed ones.
"If I would have had some of his super-duper ones, they would have been right in the mix too," Steffen said Thursday.
She plans to donate the winning bid money to the humane society of the bidder's choice.
Since Vick was indicted on federal dogfighting charges last month, former fans have donated Vick jerseys to dog shelters, while others have tried to cash in by selling Vick T-shirts and chew toys for dogs.
"I'm not angry toward him; my anger is toward anyone who would do this to animals," said Steffen, a college student and artist who wrote a note accompanying her auction to explain it was artistic expression.
"I mean no harm to anyone involved with this auction," she wrote.
Vick said through a lawyer this week he will plead guilty to a federal charge of conspiracy to travel in interstate commerce in aid of unlawful activities and conspiracy to sponsor a dog in an animal fighting venture.
Steffen's cards join a collection of newly released items on sale. T-shirts are being sold online with slogans that say "Ignorance Breeds Ignorance. Neuter Mike Vick," and "ConVICKt" and others that show dogs urinating on footballs and jerseys.
A few fans also have released "Free Vick" shirts.
The St. Paul Saints, a minor league baseball team known for campy promotions, gave out Vick chew toys Tuesday to the first 15,000 fans with some game proceeds going to the Humane Society. Fans got the St. Paul pig mascot with a No. 7 printed on the back and a tag around its neck with Vick's picture.
The Atlanta Humane Society also has reported former Vick fans mailing in jerseys — often accompanied by financial contributions and letters of outrage over the charges. Those former fans have suggested the Falcons jerseys become animal bedding or rags to help scrub up the messes that dogs leave behind. Other branches of the Humane Society have said they'll take donated Vick items to resell on eBay.
Steffen said she hopes to bring more attention to the abuse of animals involved in dogfighting activities.
"The money donated to local shelters makes this whole idea of selling the cards worthwhile," she said.
One set of cards for sale on ebay had a final sale price of $7,400.