The John Elway rookie card took a long and bumpy ride to arrive at its final hobby destination.

Today, of course, the 1984 Topps Elway card is the cream of the crop that storied set has to offer, and one of the most desired cards of the entire 1980s. But, for a long time, the Elway RC languished behind other rookies in the set and seemed like it might never fulfill its potential.

Sort of like the man himself.

Indeed, while Dan Marino and Eric Dickerson streaked across the football firmament from their first snap in the NFL, Elway couldn’t seem to get out of his own way.

After a Draft-day stink in 1983 that included thumbing his nose at the Baltimore Colts — who took him Number 1 overall — and threatening to play baseball for the New York Yankees rather than take heave the rock on the gridiron, Elway got his wish … a trade to the Denver Broncos.

His debut that fall produced a 4-6 quarterback record as the Broncos squeaked into the playoffs.

Meanwhile, Dickerson led the NFL in rushing as a rookie and Marino threw for 2200+ yards and 20 touchdowns in just over half a season.

The football world was stoked to see what these two young phenoms had in store for 1984, and us collectors couldn’t wait to get our hands on their rookie cards.

That second season saw Marino and Dickerson continue their dizzying ascent, setting records left and right, as their rookie cards threatened to turn football into a more legitimate outlet for collector dollars than it ever had been before. It didn’t hurt that Marino got the Dolphins all the way to the Super Bowl, where they fell to Joe Montana and the San Francisco 49ers.

Meanwhile, Elway led the Broncos to a 13-3 record, but they fell to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the divisional round.

1984 Topps John Elway

And that’s sort of the way it went for Elway and Denver the next few years: big regular-season records and even three Super Bowl appearances, but no rings to show for it.

Right or wrong, Elway developed a reputation as a star quarterback who couldn’t produce when it really mattered.

And, so, his rookie card languished behind its classmates, and then behind other juggernaut football RCs like Montana’s, Jerry Rice‘s, Reggie White‘s, Jim Kelly‘s, and other.

It all took a dramatic turn in 1997, though, when Old Man Elway, at 37, got the Broncs back to the Super Bowl and then sealed the deal himself with a goal-line push for the ages. Denver beat Bretty Favre and the Green Bay Packers, 31-24, and Elway had his championship.

Suddenly, the 1984 Topps John Elway rookie card was the darling of the hobby … and then The Duke of Denver and his teammates did it all again, winning another Super Bowl to send Elway off into retirement in style.

Elway sailed into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton five years later, and his RC never looked back.

But the funny thing about that now-storied John Elway rookie card is that it’s not alone.

While it’s true that RCs of the Broncos legend can’t fill your albums like Dan Marino rookie cards can, you still have a couple of options in chasing first-year Elway cardboard.

Here, then, is the complete — if short — rundown of John Elway rookie cards.

(Note: The following sections contain affiliate links to eBay and Amazon listings for the cards being discussed. Sales prices culled from the PSA Auction Prices Realized tool for the condition in question.)

1984 Topps John Elway Rookie Card (#63)

1984 Topps John Elway

Of course, this is the John Elway rookie card, the one that has landed at the top of the 1984 Topps football heap after all these years.

In a way, this is what you might have expected to happen back in 1983 if you were a football card prognosticator — the first card of the top pick in one of the most hyped drafts ever leading the pack after a Hall of Fame career.

That’s exactly what we have, even if it took some soap-opera-level twists and turns to get there.

Today, the PSA Population Report tells us that this card, and most others in the set, turns up in PSA 8 condition more than any other. Elway checks in at a virtual tie with Marino in sales numbers, with each of their RCs commanding $95-100 for copies in that condition.

Bump that up to PSA 9, though, and Elway jumps out front ($400+ to about $350). Move up to a “perfect” 10, and you’re looking at mid-four-figures for either guy (as well as Walter Payton).

Value: $95-100 (PSA 8).

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1984 Topps Stickers John Elway (#179)

At the same time we were pulling Elway, Marino, and Dickerson rookie cards (not to mention Curt Warner RCs) from our wax packs, collectors could also have availed ourselves of those little paper packages stuffed with football stickers.

Among the 282-piece set, this mud-smeared Elway “rookie sticker” was nestled in at #179, right between Steve Watson and Mike Pruitt.

As easy as it was to tear these things, and as tempting as it was to stick them to something, including the pages of the accompanying album, it’s sort of amazing that PSA has graded more of these as a “9” than any other condition.

Still, there aren’t all that many out there on the market, which explains the hefty sales prices.

Value: $90-100 (PSA 9)

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1984 7-Eleven Discs John Elway West (#XVII)

If you found yourself on the west coast during the fall of 1984, you might have had the opportunity to take a break from your travels or the daily grind with a quick stop in to the local 7-Eleven.

And, if you had made such a stop, you would have had the chance to slake your thirst with a refreshing Slurpee.

And, had you so imbibed, you would have entered yourself into the John Elway Rookie Football Disc Sweepstakes, wherein the Broncos’s signal-caller appeared on a certain number of cup bottoms.

Today, this magic-motion concoction shows up most often at PSA’s doors in more or less perfect condition, though a decent proportion end up with a grad of PSA 9, too — and a value about $100 less than the PSA 10 numbers shown below.

Either way, there aren’t too many of these John Elway rookie cards discs on the market at any given time.

Value: $150-200 (PSA 10)

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$18.50 (7 Bids)
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1984 Topps John Elway Rookie Card #63 Denver Broncos RC Beautiful

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1984 Topps Football Rookie #63 John ELWAY

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1984 Topps #63 John Elway RC

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1984 Topps #63 John Elway Rookie RC

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