Football has produced some of our most iconic moments and figures in sports history. We root for these modern-day gladiators as they exemplify excellence and the greatest of them earn our respect for a lifetime. With that respect, sports fans have turned to cards and memorabilia to honor the greats, and today we’re going back in time to look at Hall of Fame players and all-time greats, and their now vintage football cards that football collectors would love for their personal collections. As always, let us know your thoughts on the list by leaving a comment below.
1957 Topps Johnny Unitas Rookie Card #138
First up on our list of favorite vintage football cards is a Topps Johnny Unitas rookie card. Johnny Unitas played his entire career with the then-Baltimore Colts, winning three NFL Championships and 1 Super Bowl. Unitas left the game as one of the most impactful figures in the quarterback position.
Johnny U’s 1957 Topps Rookie Card features two side-by-side shots of the hall of Famer on the card with the left with a traditional close-up, and on the left, he’s striking a pose with the ball in hand.
1976 Topps Walter Payton Rookie Card #148
Next up on our list of top vintage football cards is a 1976 Topps Walter Payton rookie card. The Chicago Bears running back commonly referred to as Sweetness was one of the most dominant runners to ever touch the field. The nine-time Pro Bowler and two-time NFL MVP (1977 and 1985) wreaked havoc on defenses for 13 seasons totaling over 16,000 yards and 110 touchdowns on the ground.
The Walter Payton 1976 Topps Rookie Card features a close-up shot of the Bears running back on a white background. This valuable card makes our list due to the rarity of high-grade condition cards to come by.
1989 Score Barry Sanders Rookie Card #257
Barry Sanders’s career may not have the longevity as other Hall of Famers, but what he accomplished in a short period is legendary. He entered the NFL in his rookie season immediately as one of the most entertaining and devastating runners. Playing a total of 10 seasons, he amassed 1000 rushing yards each year.
1989 Barry Sanders rookie card surrounds an image of the Lions’ longtime running back with green borders. While the card doesn’t carry the same price tag as other valuable cards in the football card hobby, adding the great running back will definitely be a good investment.
1958 Topps Jim Brown Rookie Card #62
Jim Brown’s 1958 Topps Rookie Card is one of the most popular football cards to date, and thanks to Brown being one of the most popular players on and off the field. Brown’s career served as a blueprint for the running back position for everyone that came before him. As the anchor of the Cleveland Browns offense for nine seasons, he totaled over 12,000 yards and 102 rushing touchdowns.
Jim Brown’s Topps rookie card is on that shortlist of the most coveted and valuable football cards ever. This vintage rookie card highlights the 3-time NFL MVP dawning the Cleveland Browns uniform and pads in the open field with a black border surrounding the image. This is also one of the most expensive football cards, with one of the highest-graded versions selling for over $350,000.
1965 Topps Joe Namath SP Rookie Card #122
We got another all-time great quarterback on the list, “Broadway” Joe Namath. Widely known as one of the coolest football players makes our list with one of the key cards in football card collections.
Joe Namath’s 1965 Topps Rookie Card is one of the most popular cards for the sport of football. The vintage card features the Jets quarterback accompanied with “New York” text over the top of an image of one of the all-time great quarterbacks dropping back to pass with a yellow background.
The 1965 Topps Joe Namath card is a crown jewel worthy of any football card collection, and there’s evidence to prove it with paying over $250,000 in an auction.
1982 Topps Lawrence Taylor Rookie Card #434
Lawrence Taylor isn’t only considered the most outstanding defensive player in football history, but the Hall of Famer is also in conversations for the greatest football player ever. For 13 years, Lawrence Taylor tormented offensive players in the backfield, inflicting as much pain as the rules allowed.
When he hung up his jersey, Taylor finished his illustrious career with the most sacks in a season (20.5), the most sacks in a career (132.5) along a 3-Time Defensive Player of the Year honors and the NFL MVP award in 1986 as well.
Lawrence Taylor’s 1982 Topps Rookie Card features one of the all-time greats on the sidelines taking a knee surveying the field accompanied by the Giants logo and name below.
That’s it for us and our favorite vintage football cards. If you’re looking for a space to expand your collection, hop on the Loupe app today! Collect your favorites on the field from stars of today like Pat Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers to past all-time greats like Deion Sanders and Steve Young. Sign up and join the community to get free Loupe credits on your first purchase!