Can Tom Brady's 'Deflategate' balls sell for as much as Ryan's jock strap?

On Tuesday, Tom Brady will appeal his four-game suspension for "Deflategate," the scandal surrounding under-inflated footballs he handled during the AFC Championship game last January. According to ESPN, Brady not only wants the suspensions overturned, he wants to be completely exonerated.

Whether or not he wins, two of his biggest fans are certain to score.

An actual game ball used in the AFC Championship Game played on  Jan. 18, 2015 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro Mass., is up for auction.
Lelands.com
An actual game ball used in the AFC Championship Game played on Jan. 18, 2015 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro Mass., is up for auction.
"The historical importance of this piece cannot be understated." -Lelands.com

Matt and Laura Nichols of Medford, MA, were at that fateful game, and they managed to end up with one of the deflated footballs. They are putting it up for auction on Lelands.com, with a reserve bid of $25,000.

Matt Nichols told CNBC he and his wife paid about $400 a piece for seats in the end zone that day. "This was a huge deal for us. We are not wealthy people." Here's how they got their hands on that ball.

In the second half, Brady handed the ball to LeGarrette Blount, who ran it into the end zone for a touchdown. Blount dropped the ball to celebrate. It was then picked up by receiver Brandon LaFell, who then handed it to Laura Nicholsbecause she and her husband were holding up a sign which said "Can't Beat the Pats."

Matt Nichols said, "We celebrated by jumping up and down, and taking multiple photos with the ball." They left the game during the fourth quarter to make sure nothing happened to it.

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Nichols said that he and his wife originally planned "to keep that football forever, probably have it on a shelf at home." After the Deflategate scandal broke, he still didn't think their football was special since they'd received it in the second half, after the officials swapped balls.

Except the balls in the Nichols' possession were not swapped. The Wells Report indicates the second half balls were the same under-inflated balls used in the first half, just reflated.

Next came a very serious discussion about what to do. "We're both really big Patriots fans," said Matt. However, they're also newlyweds, and they began thinking,"Maybe if the price is right, maybe we do part with this."

He began reaching out to auction houses, sending them photos of the football which bore a "Patriots" stamp and was also marked "WA" for referee Walt Anderson. The Nichols also sent Lelands photos of the two of them at the game with the ball, and the couple could be seen in the background of video from the game holding up their sign. "You could see us clear as day."

Not like buying a jock strap (wait, yes it is)

'Deflategate': What did Tom Brady know?
'Deflategate': What did Tom Brady know?   

Lelands has verified their story, adding, "The historical importance of this piece cannot be understated." Sure, it's not like trying to auction off the jock strap Nolan Ryan wore when he set the record for no-hitters (which sold for $25,000, the exact reserve bid for the Nichols' football). This is a different sort of sports history.

Lelands calls it "the most 'topical' piece of sports memorabilia that we can recall ever being sold so close to the event itself."

Even though the Nichols hope to profit from Deflategate, Matt Nichols said, "I can say without a doubt that my wife and I support Tom Brady 100 percent, and we support the Patriots 100 percent." Did Brady cheat? "No, not necessarily," he replied. "One way or another those balls ended up slightly underinflated, but in the grand scheme of things, it mattered absolutely nothing to the outcome of the of game. We're talking the weight of a dollar bill."

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Nichols expects some fans will be angry that he's selling the football based on its notoriety. "Let them complain, I don't care," he said. Many of his friends and family members are die hard Pats fans, and he said no one has told him not to sell. Laura is an office manager, he's a professional musician, and both are in their early 30s.

"I own a house, and it would be nice to be able to take care of a few things. It's pretty much a no brainer."

—By CNBC's Jane Wells. Follow her on Twitter: @janewells