Chew on this: a $5,000 mouth guard

More proof that sports fans are the weirdest people on the planet — on Aug. 3, one of them is expected to pay $5,000 for a piece of plastic that once was in the mouth of a basketball player.

It’s not just any piece of plastic, of course. This one is the mouth guard that was personally chewed upon sometime during the past season by Golden State star Steph Curry, before he dropped it on the floor and it was picked up by a fan. (This mouth guard, it should be noted, is not the same one Curry took out of his mouth and hurled into the stands at Quicken Loans Arena, where it struck the shoulder of the son of one of the minority owners of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Bidding for that one probably would start at $10,000.)

But why would anyone pay anything that has been in anyone else’s mouth?

“Steph Curry has given more life to mouth guards than any player in history, “explained a vice president of the California auction company that’s handling the sale. Which is a great accomplishment, indeed, although I suspect Curry would rather be known for spectacular three-point shooting, winning MVP awards and being the second-best player ever born in Akron.

Besides, sports fans seem to place great value on stuff that has come out of other people’s mouths. One paid $440 for a toothpick once used by pitcher Tom Seaver. Another paid $6,700 for the mouthpiece worn by Muhammad Ali in his final bout. Perhaps the ultimate oral fixation was the $10,000 paid for gum chewed by baseball player Luis Gonzalez.

Depending upon the body part with which they have come in contact, some artifacts with even higher “eew” factors are even more highly treasured. Pitcher Nolan Ryan’s jockstrap sold for $25,000. A bloody sock worn by pitcher Curt Schilling went for $92,613. Even things that have come in contact with the bodies of non-athletic sports figures have a market. When he paid $2,500 for a toilet seat once used by former Cleveland Browns owner Art Modell, the buyer explained, “I wanted to see where Art Modell made all of his business decisions.”

Which makes that buyer a paragon of normalcy compared with the guy who bought a cast worn on the foot of quarterback Robert Griffin III. Asked by the Washington Post if he would ever sniff his purchase, he admitted, “Probably. The worse it smells, the happier I am, because that makes it more unique. Some people have RGIII game-worn jerseys, and they’re stained or whatever. I might have his foot stink. That’s special to me.”

Maybe $5,000 for a mouth guard isn’t so weird, after all.