There was a time when rookie football cards were an afterthought for most collectors — heck, even during the hobby boom of the 1980s, you could pick up Walter Payton rookie cards all day long for just a few bucks a pop.

Those days are long gone, though, for better or worse.

Sweetness himself was responsible for a large part of that gridiron awakening, as his run past Jim Brown as the all-time leading rusher in 1984 really captured the hobby’s imagination. And then, when Payton’s Chicago Bears dominated the NFL in 1985 on their way to a Super Bowl Shuffle, the temperature of football cards started to heat up.

Through the 1990s and into the very early 2000s, football cards — along with basketball cards — made steady inroads into the collector market.

And then, when when Tom Brady burst onto the scene and led the New England Patriots to a Super Bowl victory after the 2001 season, he joined Indianapolis Colts superstar Peyton Manning in a sort of hobby tit-for-tat that was football’s version of Larry Bird and Magic Johnson.

The decades since have only solidified Brady’s place in the game, and the status of football cards (rookie cards in particular) as high-scoring, hobby-pleasing collectibles that can stand cleat-to-cleat with any other sport in the land … even if it remains a bit seasonal compared to baseball (especially vintage baseball).

And, if you ever need proof of that gridiron fire, just check out the list below of the 25 most-watched rookie football cards on eBay RIGHT NOW. Check back often, too, as this list is continually updated.

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2020 Panini FLAWLESS DIAMOND Justin Herbert RC Rookie On Card AUTO 16/20

Watchers: 182  
# of Bids: 29
Current Bid: $1913
Auction Ends: 25-May-2022 03:05
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Jim Brown 1958 Topps Rookie Card #62 Psa 7 Very Hard To Find

Watchers: 92  
# of Bids: 66
Current Bid: $2550
Auction Ends: 24-May-2022 18:05
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2021National Treasures KELLEN MOND TRUE RPA #10/10 On Card Auto Vikings RC (1/1)

Watchers: 80  
# of Bids: 19
Current Bid: $550
Auction Ends: 27-May-2022 03:05
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2020 Prizm Joe Burrow Rookie Card RC #307 PSA 10 Bengals GEM MINT (78) D91

Watchers: 75  
# of Bids: 28
Current Bid: $177.5
Auction Ends: 25-May-2022 01:05
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JA'MARR CHASE FOTL EXCLUSIVE ON CARD AUTO 2021 Contenders Rookie Ticket Variant

Watchers: 70  
# of Bids: 38
Current Bid: $112.5
Auction Ends: 26-May-2022 23:05
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2021 Contenders Trey Lance Rookie Ticket On Card Auto RC PSA 9 MINT

Watchers: 70  
# of Bids: 36
Current Bid: $117.5
Auction Ends: 29-May-2022 23:05
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2020 Prizm Justin Herbert Rookie Card RC #325 PSA 10 Chargers GEM MINT (79) D91

Watchers: 63  
# of Bids: 18
Current Bid: $270
Auction Ends: 25-May-2022 01:05
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1998 Topps Peyton Manning ROOKIE RC Autograph Certified On Card Auto PSA 8

Watchers: 62  
# of Bids: 53
Current Bid: $301
Auction Ends: 28-May-2022 02:05
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JOSH ALLEN PSA 10 GEM MINT BILLS RATED ROOKIE CARD #304 RC 2018 DONRUSS

Watchers: 59  
# of Bids: 28
Current Bid: $203.5
Auction Ends: 26-May-2022 01:05
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Jaylen Waddle 2021 Panini One Dual RPA 06/10 Logo Patch On card Auto Dolphins

Watchers: 59  
# of Bids: 22
Current Bid: $102.5
Auction Ends: 29-May-2022 01:05
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2021 Limited Draft Day Signatures Zach WIlson Rookie Patch Auto Booklet Card /47

Watchers: 56  
# of Bids: 25
Current Bid: $177.5
Auction Ends: 25-May-2022 00:05
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1958 Topps #62 Jim Brown Rookie Rc Card SGC 1 Great Eye Appeal 🔥 Browns HOF

Watchers: 56  
# of Bids: 17
Current Bid: $204.5
Auction Ends: 27-May-2022 02:05
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2021 Contenders Mac Jones Variation Rookie Ticket On Card Auto RC PSA 9 MINT

Watchers: 56  
# of Bids: 13
Current Bid: $405
Auction Ends: 29-May-2022 23:05
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2000 Bowman Tom Brady #236 Rookie Card RC Mint Condition READY TO GRADE!

Watchers: 52  
# of Bids: 28
Current Bid: $812
Auction Ends: 30-May-2022 01:05
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Justin Herbert 2020 Panini Prizm ROOKIE CARD RC NO HUDDLE Disco PRIZM PSA 9

Watchers: 52  
# of Bids: 28
Current Bid: $308
Auction Ends: 27-May-2022 02:05
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2020 Panini Mosaic Joe Burrow #201 PSA 10 Gem MINT Silver Prizm Rookie Card

Watchers: 52  
# of Bids: 20
Current Bid: $380
Auction Ends: 25-May-2022 01:05
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1957 Topps Johnny Unitas Rookie Card Baltimore Colts #138 RC

Watchers: 51  
# of Bids: 28
Current Bid: $165.5
Auction Ends: 25-May-2022 19:05
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2020 Prizm Joe Burrow Rookie Card RC #307 PSA 10 GEM MINT Bengals C974

Watchers: 50  
# of Bids: 21
Current Bid: $172.5
Auction Ends: 25-May-2022 01:05
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1987 TOPPS JIM KELLY ROOKIE CARD #362 PSA 10 GEM MT

Watchers: 48  
# of Bids: 7
Current Bid: $57
Auction Ends: 29-May-2022 22:05
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2018 Prizm Josh Allen Rookie Card RC #205 Bills D460

Watchers: 46  
# of Bids: 22
Current Bid: $91
Auction Ends: 26-May-2022 02:05
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Teofimo Lopez 💎ROOKIE CARD! GOODWIN CHAMPIONS Inscription Auto /75

Watchers: 45  
# of Bids: 21
Current Bid: $102.5
Auction Ends: 25-May-2022 01:05
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Kyler Murray 2019 Panini Select SILVER PRIZM Rookie Card RC Field Level PSA 10

Watchers: 45  
# of Bids: 4
Current Bid: $16.5
Auction Ends: 28-May-2022 23:05
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2021 Contenders Justin Fields Bears RC Rookie Ticket Variation RPS On Card Auto

Watchers: 44  
# of Bids: 7
Current Bid: $177.5
Auction Ends: 30-May-2022 02:05
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