If 1980s hobby trends had you seeing double from all the funky borders, you might have taken refuge in a pile of 1987 Topps football cards.

Because, while Topps went all woody for their baseball cards that summer, and while both their 1985 and 1986 gridiron sets featured, um, experimental borders, the 1987 football set was about as traditional as you can get.

That doesn’t mean it eschewed all hobby trends of the day, though.

Indeed, with an influx of talent from the defunct USFL to the NFL in 1986, there was a flood of new players to cover in cardboard for the first time when the new season rolled around.

1987 Topps football cards factory set

And Topps did their best to load their 1987 set with every rookie card they could crank out.

The result is a list of most valuable 1987 Topps football cards that’s jammed with Hall of Fame RCs and a handful of mid-career Canton denizens — enough gridiron greatness to satisfy collectors of all ilk.

(Note … these rankings are culled from PSA 9 listings in the PSA Sports Market Report Price Guide.)

Let’s get started!

1987 Topps Jim Kelly Rookie Card (#362)

1987 Topps Jim Kelly

So, the story goes that Jim Kelly wasn’t all that jazzed about playing for the Buffalo Bills when they picked him in the first round of the 1983 NFL Draft.

When the USFL came calling shortly thereafter, then, Kelly jumped at the chance to call signals for the Houston Gamblers in the upstart league.

In two seasons down south, Kelly set most of the passing records in the new league … until it folded in 1985.

The Bills were waiting with open arms, and this time, Kelly reciprocated that love. Within a few years, he had Buffalo in their first-ever Super Bowl.

Then they made it back to The Big Game — three times in a row.

Lost all of them.

But Kelly and teammates like Pete Metzelaars, Bruce Smith, Andre Reed, Thurman Thomas, and Scott Norwood (right?) became Buffalo legends

Kelly made it all the way to the Hall of Fame, and he sits atop this list with a $20 rookie card (PSA 9).

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1987 Topps Walter Payton (#46)

1987 Topps Walter Payton

Walter Payton ran for more than 1300 yards in 1986, as this 1987 Topps card attest.

Then, he came back for one final run in 1987, when he went over 500 yards.

And then … he retired, with, like, everything you could want.

All the rushing records … a Super Bowl ring … a sure place in Canton.

But you know what Payton didn’t have? A career-capper card.

Yep, this 1987 Topps card, which sells for about $18 in PSA 9, is Payton’s last base issue.

He did get a record breaker card in 1988, by the way, for topping Jim Brown’s all-time rushing touchdown mark.

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1987 Topps Doug Flutie Rookie Card (#45)

1987 Topps Doug Flutie

Doug Flutie was like the Tim Tebow of the 1980s, except, like short … and probably more talented on the football field.

And he won a lot.

From that Hail Mary with Boston College to his days in the USFL with the New Jersey Generals to the Bears and then the Patriots in the NFL, Flutie always seemed to overproduce vis-a-vis his perceived talent … even if he understood.

Today, Flutie’s NFL rookie card is a $12 buy in PSA 9 condition.

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1987 Topps Randall Cunningham Rookie Card (#296)

1987 Topps Randall Cunningham

So you say you want a big-name rookie from this set who didn’t start his career in the USFL?

Look no further than Randall Cunningham, who lit up the NFL with his legs and his arm, and totally redefined what it meant to be a mobile quarterback.

I mean, future super athletes who plied their trade at QB — think Michael Vick — owe a ton to Randall, who nearly ran for 1000 yards in 1990.

Cunningham is not in the Hall of Fame yet, but you gotta think his time is coming.

When it does, this rookie card just might command more than its current $12 (PSA 9).

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1987 Topps Joe Montana (#112)

1987 Topps Joe Montana

Montana, on the other hand, already had Canton on speed dial by the time this card was issued.

And, with Jerry Rice in the fold, Montana was about to push through to even greater heights.

Today, this mid-career card runs about $10 in PSA 9 condition.

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1987 Topps Charles Haley Rookie Card (#125)

1987 Topps Charles Haley

Even though he was a fourth-round pick in 1986, Haley wasted little time in making an impact for the 49ers.

That rookie season, he recorded 12 sacks, then followed up with double digits in three of the next four years. A move to outside linebacker in 1988 didn’t slow him down much, either.

After Haley won two rings with the Niners, he moved on to the Dallas Cowboys, where he contributed mightily to three more Super Bowl winners.

The Hall of Famer’s 1987 Topps rookie card is a $10 buy in slabbed MINT condition.

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1987 Topps John Elway (#31)

1987 Topps John Elway

When this card was issued, Elway was the talented QB who was soft — couldn’t win the big game.

Things didn’t get much better a couple years later, either, with San Fran drubbed Elway’s Broncos in the Super Bowl (55-10).

Of course, just when we thought the Elway story was written, he reeled off two Super Bowl victories with the help of Terrell Davis and friends to wrap up his career in 1997 and 1998.

Today, Elway is a bona fide football god, and his 1987 Topps card pushes $10 in PSA 9.

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1987 Topps Jerry Rice (#115)

1987 Topps Jerry Rice

Rice gave the first real hint of what was to come in 1986, his first year as a full-time starter.

That season, he hauled in 86 catches for 1570 yards and 15 touchdowns.

It only got better from there for Rice and the Niners, as rings and records rained down like pennies from heaven.

This second-year Rice card is about a $10 buy in PSA 9.

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1987 Topps Dan Marino (#233)

1987 Topps Dan Marino

Marino was like Elway, except with better stats.

Unfortunately for Dan and his Dolphins teammates, they never did get off the Super Bowl snide. Never even got back to the Big Game after losing to the Niners in Super Bowl XIX.

Nevertheless, Marino set all sorts of records and is an all-time great, pushing his 1987 Topps card to $8 or more in PSA 9 condition.

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1987 Topps Herschel Walker Rookie Card (#264)

1987 Topps Herschel Walker

Herschel Walker gave Bo Jackson some competition as maybe the greatest pure athelete many fans in my generation had ever seen (that might still hold).

Walker was also another USFL superstar who made the jump to the NFL, landing with the Minnesota Vikings.

Then, of course, Jerry Jones managed to turn Walker into an entire team.

Herschel was great when healthy, but that wasn’t quite often enough to let him live up to all that potential.

Still, PSA 9 copies of his rookie card sell for around $8 today.

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1987 Topps Gary Zimmerman Rookie Card (#207)

1987 Topps Gary Zimmerman

Sigh … yet another refugee from the USFL who made good — really good — in the NFL and landed a 1987 Topps rookie card.

Even though he didn’t get started in the NFL until he was 25, Zimmerman turned in 12 stellar years that included three All-Pro and seven Pro Bowl honors.

That carried Zimmerman all the way to Canton and leaves his RC at $5+ in PSA 9 condition.

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