Jerry Rice football cards from the 1980s came about as close to crossing into baseball-card-hype territory as any football issue ever has.

There’s a good reason for that, too … Rice is the greatest wide receiver to ever lace up a pair of cleats in The League.

A trio of Super Bowl rings and a bust in Canton don’t hurt Rice’s cardboard cause, either, and he remains a hobby giant today.

Jerry Rice October 1990 Beckett Football Card Magazine

Like most modern players, though, Rice is featured on so many cards that it would be pretty much impossible to run through them all in one place.

Instead, let’s take a stroll through the early years with an up-close look at the first ten Jerry Rice football cards, all issued in 1986 and 1987.

1986 Mcdonalds 49ers Jerry Rice Rookie Card (#80)

1986 Mcdonalds 49ers Jerry Rice

Though Rice was a first-round pick in the 1985 NFL Draft, he didn’t hit the scene with a ton of hype.

And he spent most of his rookie season as a back-up, playing in all 16 games but starting just four. He still finished second on the team in receiving yards (927), though, to Roger Craig (who was truly a beast with 2000+ yards from scrimmage).

That was all good enough to land Rice a slot in the 1986 McDonald’s 49ers set, issued in San Francisco-area Golden Arches during a four-week period. Each card can be found with one of four colored “Play & Win” tabs along the bottom — black, orange, blue, green.

Given the timing of its release, this can rightly be considered a Jerry Rice rookie card.

Check prices on eBay (affiliate link)

Check prices on Amazon (affiliate link)

1986 Topps Jerry Rice Rookie Card (#161)

1986 Topps Jerry Rice Rookie Card

Of course, this is the Jerry Rice rookie card … the one that set the hobby on fire in the late 1980s and helped pull football cards into the limelight.

As Rice put up amazing season after amazing season and took early aim on the Hall of Fame, collectors flocked to his cards — especially this one.

While teammate Joe Montana had sparked hobby commotion with his 1981 Topps RC, Rice was the first football guy with a first card issued in the heart of the rookie card craze to really capture our imaginations.

Check prices on eBay (affiliate link)

Check prices on Amazon (affiliate link)

1987 49ers Ace Fact Pack Jerry Rice

1987 49ers Ace Fact Pack Jerry Rice

The Ace Fact Pack was issued as a bubble-pack set of 33 cards celebrating 49ers players, lore, and stats.

With rounded borders and patterned backs, the issue resembles playing cards, and the Rice piece features the young superstar doing what he did best — catching and running.

These are tough cards to find, especially individually, but complete sets sometimes show up for a few hundred bucks.

Check prices on eBay (affiliate link)

Check prices on Amazon (affiliate link)

1987 Topps Jerry Rice All-Pro (#115)

1987 Topps Jerry Rice All-Pro

In 1986, while his rookie cards were hitting collections across the land, Rice was busy putting together his first of ten All-Pro seasons.

He also led the NFL in catching yards (1570) and touchdowns (15) as he began building his claim to the title of “Greatest Receiver Ever.”

This 1987 Topps Rice card celebrates all that and is still popular with collectors today.

Check prices on eBay (affiliate link)

Check prices on Amazon (affiliate link)

1987 Topps Rice/Christensen Receiving Leaders (#228)

1987 Topps Rice and Christensen Receiving Leaders

We don’t usually pay much attention to who leads each conference in various statistical categories, but Topps sure did.

That’s why we get this card of not only Rice, who paced the NFC with 86 catches, but Raiders tight end and fullback Todd Christensen, who led the AFC and the NFL with 95 grabs.

Christensen would go on to a career as a color analyst with ESPN, but it’s Rice who carries this card.

Check prices on eBay (affiliate link)

Check prices on Amazon (affiliate link)

1987 Topps 1000 Yard Club Jerry Rice (#2)

1987 Topps 1000 Yard Club Jerry Rice

These glossy cards were issued one per wax pack as inserts in Topps’ 1987 base set. In all, there were 24 cards in this set, one for each of the 1000-yard men in the league — eight running backs and 16 receivers.

As the game’s top yard-gainer in the air, Rice landed at #2 in this set, behind Eric Dickerson of the Rams, who ran for 1821 yards

Check prices on eBay (affiliate link)

Check prices on Amazon (affiliate link)

1987 Topps American/Uk Jerry Rice (#30)

1987 Topps American and Uk Jerry Rice

In 1987, Topps produced an 88-card boxed set for distribution in the United Kingdom. The cards included 75 single players, a checklist, and 12 “team action” cards whose backs fit together to form a puzzle of William Perry (The Refrigerator).

Each card is a bit smaller than its American counterpart, at 2 1/8″ x 3″, and features a team logo on the front that’s not there on the base issue.

Otherwise, the UK cards look identical to their more common counterparts from the front, though you do get a “Talking Football” section on the back.

All in all, this is a great-looking second-year card of Rice that carries with it a bit of scarcity.

Check prices on eBay (affiliate link)

Check prices on Amazon (affiliate link)

1987 Topps Box Bottoms Jerry Rice (#K)

1987 Topps Box Bottoms Jerry Rice Hand Cut

This was the heyday of Topps trying to squeeze cards in everywhere they could and encourage collectors to buy in bulk.

One of those tactics was including special four-card panels on the bottoms of wax boxes, with 16 cards in all.

Like all of the cards in this set, Rice is “numbered” with a letter (K) and features yellow borders. It also shows Rice getting ready to pass the ball in what looks to be the next frame after the shot from his base card.

Check prices on eBay (affiliate link)

Check prices on Amazon (affiliate link)

1987 Topps Stickers Jerry Rice (#61)

1987 Topps Stickers Jerry Rice

This was a pretty standard Topps sticker issue, with 173 “cards” measuring 2 1/8″ x 3″.

Some of the cards showed just one player, some two, for a total of 281 different stickers in the set.

This one is a solo shot of Rice, and it’s more scarce than the base 1987 Topps issue … especially in high grades.

Check prices on eBay (affiliate link)

Check prices on Amazon (affiliate link)

1987 Topps Stickers Rice #140/Tippett #154

1987 Topps Stickers Rice #140 and Tippett #154

And this one is a double treat — Rice teamed with Patriots legend and fellow Hall of Famer Andre Tippett on foil All-Pro stickers.

Lots of football talent squeezed into one tiny rectangle.

Check prices on eBay (affiliate link)

Check prices on Amazon (affiliate link)