Football cards may never achieve the same status in popular culture as their baseball counterparts, but collectors know the real score.
Namely, gridiron cards have been around for generations, and they tell the history of the game in a way you won’t find anywhere else.
And the richness and depth of football cards issued over the decades make them both infinitely intriguing and challenging/frustrating at the same time.
Because, no matter how long you’re in this game, and no matter how hard you try, it’s unlikely you’ll ever see everything there is to see — let alone own a copy of every football card.
But that just means you can dig into the hobby safe in the knowledge that you can keep at it for a lifetime without running out of options.
Here at Wax Pack Gods, you’ll find dozens (maybe hundreds!) of posts about individual cards and sets, and about cards of individual players.
But this guide is intended to serve as your entry point into the wonderful world of football cards, with sections for all sorts of related topics: history of the cards, football card values, buying and selling cards, and many others.
As such, you’ll find links to our other football card articles, but also new material and links to the best FB conent all across the web.
Depending on when you read this, the guide may be simple and humble or robust and monstrous, because it’s going to evolve over the years.
Check back often, in other words, and you’re sure to find new and updated resources!
Now, let’s get started with …
Football Card Values
As with every other sellable in life, football cards are worth what someone will pay for them. And the general principles of supply and demand apply — values generally go up as the ratio of demand to supply does.
In turn, demand is affected by factors like player performance, awards and Hall of Fame induction, team performance, perceived scarcity, errors and variations, team popularity, card condition … and on and on.
The posts below walk through many of the most popular football card sets ever, picking out the most valuable cards from each one — and, yep, those value considerations all come into play to some degree or another.
(Until we fill all these in, you can always check the PSA Sports Market Report Price Guide for more pricing information.)
So, ready to learn more about football card values?
1968 Topps Football – 12 Most Valuable
1969 Topps Football – 12 Most Valuable
1970 Topps Football- 12 Most Valuable
1971 Topps Football- 12 Most Valuable
1972 Topps Football – 12 Most Valuable
1973 Topps Football – 12 Most Valuable
1974 Topps Football – 12 Most Valuable
1975 Topps Football – 12 Most Valuable
1976 Topps Football – 12 Most Valuable
1977 Topps Football – 12 Most Valuable
1978 Topps Football – 12 Most Valuable
1979 Topps Football – 12 Most Valuable
1980 Topps Football Cards – 12 Most Valuable
1981 Topps Football Cards – 12 Most Valuable
1982 Topps Football – 12 Most Valuable
1983 Topps Football Cards – 12 Most Valuable
1984 Topps Football Cards – 12 Most Valuable
1986 Topps Football – 12 Most Valuable
1987 Topps Football – 11 Most Valuable
1988 Topps Football Cards – 10 Most Valuable
1990 Fleer Football – 10 Most Valuable
1990 Topps Football Cards – 10 Most Valuable
Football Cards FAQ
The first football cards were issued as premiums in packages of cigarettes in the late 1800s, same as with baseball cards.
In particular, Yale’s Henry W. Beecher claimed the very first football card as the only gridiron player to be included in Goodwin & Company’s 1888 set issued in Old Judge and Gypsy Queen cigarettes.
The most valuable cards are the ones that combine scarcity with a popular player, such that demand significantly exceeds supply.
Among the single cards that have sold for the most money are the 1938 National Chicle Bronko Nagurski rookie card, the 1965 Topps Joe Namath rookie card, and the 1958 Jim Brown rookie card.
See our series of posts on football card values for information about pricing individual sets.
As of this writing, the PSA Population Report has numbers for more than 13,300 different football card issues, spanning from 1894 through 2019.
There are likely other sets not accounted for in the PSA listings.