Sports card manufacturers remarkably overproduced football cards from the 90s, severely affecting the decade's card values, though the most expensive 90s football cards have remained rich in value. From the 21 most valuable cards below, each player is featured in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, besides the late Steve McNair, who remains on the ballot and is a sure thing to become enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame, and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. After winning a National Championship at the University of Miami, Dwayne Johnson went undrafted and never played a snap in the NFL. However, his achievements came from his life after football, where he became a wrestling sensation and one of the most influential actors in Hollywood, who will be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in the near future.
With that said, this comprehensive list is dominated by Peyton Manning, the Indianapolis Colts, and Denver Broncos quarterback, who goes down as one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history. Peyton has set many records that may not be replicated for years to come, including obtaining five MVP Awards, along with throwing for 5,477 yards and 55 touchdown passes, which are both single-season NFL records.
Despite the overproduction of football cards in the 90s, these cards have continuously increased in value due to these players' accomplishments. The cards are also prized because these players represent the best football players of not just the 90s but of all-time. Read on to view the Top 21 Most Valuable Football Cards from the 90s.
1997 Metal Universe Brett Favre Precious Metal Gems #156 #'d/150
Recent sale: $3,250
Brett Favre attended Southern Mississippi, where his father was an alumni. His coaches urged him to play defensive back; however, Favre wanted to continue playing quarterback as he did in high school, where his father was his coach. When all was said and done, Favre broke every school record imaginable.
In 1997 Metal Universe, Brett Favre is featured wearing the traditional Green Bay Packers uniform set against a green background that showcases a youthful Favre. Favre led the Packers to a 13-3 record in the 1996 season where he threw for a career-high 39 touchdowns while leading the Packers to a Superbowl while also being named the MVP of the league. When his NFL career came to an end, he set school records in passing yards, completions, and touchdowns.
There are 135 Precious Metal Gems that feature a green background and 15 Precious Metal Gems that feature a red background, which brings the total print run to 150. This Brett Favre card's foil has given collectors a challenging time to obtain high grades as the card is prone to scratching along the edges. Since this card's release in 1997, only 18 cards surfaced in the 150 card print run, where the highest grade received from both PSA and BGS is a 9, with a population of 2.
1997 Metal Universe Steve McNair Precious Metal Gems Green #28 #'d/15
Recent sale: $3,383
Also starring in 1997 Metal Universe like Favre, Steve McNair is competing for the Houston Oilers. The Houston Oilers emerged in 1960 and remained the Houston Oilers until the team relocated to Tennessee in 1996 when they became the Tenessee Titans.
The late McNair was offered a scholarship at the University of Florida to play running back but desired to play quarterback, so he competed for Alcorn State University in Mississippi. McNair went on to win the Walter Payton Award in 1994 during his senior year and finished 3rd in voting for the Heisman Trophy, and then later became the 3rd overall pick in the 1995 NFL draft.
McNair had a successful NFL career and propelled the Tennesse Titans to the Super Bowl in the 1999 season, where they competed versus the St. Louis Rams. While the Titans came up short, the 1999 Super Bowl is recognized as one of the most exciting Super Bowl games in history, where the Titans were inches short of the goal line on the final play of the game, which is remembered as "The Tackle."
This Steve McNair card had a print run of 150 cards, where the population sits at 2. The highest grade earned from 1997 Metal Universe is a BGS 9, and after that, the next highest grade is a PSA 6. Like Brett Favre's last card, as there are only a few McNair cards from 1997 Metal Universe in existence, this McNair card in a higher grade will reap more value and further move up on this list of most valuable football cards from the 90s.
1998 Bowman's Best Peyton Manning Atomic Refractors #112 #'d/100
Recent sale: $3,650
The first of nine Peyton Manning cards that appears on this list may not be Peyton's most valuable card, though it has unmistakable appeal. Peyton got his start in college as the Volunteers third-string quarterback before injures promoted him to the starter, where he never looked back.
The Tennesse Volunteers quarterback became the school's all-time passing yards leader with 11,201 yards while also breaking the passing touchdown record with 89 scores. Needless to say, he was the first pick in the 1998 NFL Draft. Peyton posted a 62.4 completion percentage throughout his college career, and as remarkable as that is, he would go on to post a 65.3 completion percentage throughout his NFL career.
1998 Bowman's Best featured six cards in each pack along with 24 packs in a hobby box. Peyton's card is the set's fundamental card, which is limited to 100 copies, where 90 of them have been graded to date. Of the 90 cards that have surfaced, 24 of them have been auctioned. BGS has graded 49 cards, and only 8% of them have earned a higher grade than this BGS 9.5 that sold just over a month ago.
1997 Skybox Premium Reggie White Autographics Century Mark #67 #'d/100
Recent sale: $3,933
When Reggie White retired, he was the all time sacks leader with 198. He has since only been passed by Hall of Famer Bruce Smith, who recorded 200. Despite not achieving the highest number of career sacks, Reggie White played in much fewer games, with 232 games versus Smith, who played in 279 games. On another note, White also played in the United States Football League before playing in the NFL, where he captured 23.5 sacks, so if you combine his total sacks from both the NFL and USFL, he is the career sacks leader in many peoples eyes.
Michael Strahan holds the lead for most sacks in a season with 22.5, though he did that throughout a complete 16 game season. Reggie White accumulated 21 sacks in the 1987 season with the Philadephia Eagles, though he registered those 21 sacks in just 12 games. This autographed Reggie White card features the fearsome defensive end competing with the Green Bay Packers, where he played 6 of his 15 NFL seasons while capturing the 1996 SuperBowl with the franchise. In addition to his on-field accomplishments, including being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the late Reggie White was a spokesman for the sport.
There were only 100 Reggie White cards issued from 1997 Skybox Premium. Reggie White's card is one of the rarest cards on the list and has a population of three, all of which were graded by BGS. Two of those grades earned a BGS 9, and one obtained a BGS 9.5, which sold for $3,933 back in September.
1997 Metal Universe Junior Seau Precious Metal Gems #92 #'d/150
Recent sale: $3,938
One of the fiercest competitors in the history of the NFL, Junior Seau was posthumously elected to the Hall of Fame in 2015 after a 20-year career with the San Diego Chargers, Miami Dolphins, and New England Patriots. Seau was the 5th overall selection in the 1990 NFL Draft, where he became one of the greatest linebackers of all-time. He was the 1992 All-Defensive Player of the Year and selected to the NFL All-Decade Team of the 1990s. The 10-time All-Pro was selected to 12 Pro Bowls over his career and ranks in the top 10 for most career tackles.
Featured several times on this list, the 1997 Metal Universe set was a widely popular collection that many sought after, including Metal Universe basketball and baseball cards released the same year. The population for this card is only four, where only two of them have been sold. Back in November, a PSA 8 sold for $3,938. This Junior Seau card is sure to garner a lot of attention any time it hits the market, and if the card is discovered in a higher grade than the PSA 8 sold in November, you're looking at an investment piece to your collection.
1998 Finest Peyton Manning Future's Finest Refractor w/ Coating #F1 #'d/75
Recent sale: $4,150
Peyton's 2nd of many cards on the list, this 1998 Finest card features a Manning rookie card. 1998 Finest shares that Peyton could be the best Colts quarterback since Johnny Unitas, a Baltimore Colts great, and one of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time. To compare the two quarterbacks, Unitas won three MVP awards, versus Peyton's five. Unitas had a 54.6 completion percentage, where Peyton had a 65.3% completion percentage. Peyton also nearly has double the number of passing yards and touchdowns as Unitas. While both players had phenomenal careers, it is hard to deny that Unitas revolutionized the sport and put the Baltimore Colts on the map. However, Peyton Manning's career stats far exceed those of Unitas.
Peyton's 1998 Finest card was limited to 75 copies, a refractor card that features a protective coating. The card has been graded 10 times by PSA, which features just one card earned a PSA 10. With a population of 21 cards graded from BGS, the highest grade attained is a BGS 9.5 with a population of four. With a total of 31 graded cards, only one card, or 3% have earned a 10 from either PSA or BGS, which makes this Peyton Manning card the most condition sensitive card on the entire list.
1991 Stadium Club Brett Farve Super Bowl XXVI #94
Recent sale: $4,250
As this is the most valuable Brett Favre on this list, 1991 Stadium Club is the most sought after Brett Favre rookie card. Brett Favre was drafted in the second round of the 1991 NFL Draft by the Atlanta Falcons. He only appeared in two games while throwing four passes, including two interceptions in his rookie year, and was traded to the Green Bay Packers. After Don Majikowski, the Packers starting quarterback at the time, became injured in week 3 of the 1992 season, Brett Favre's career took off, where he set numerous records.
Brett Favre threw for over 3,000 passing yards in 18 straight seasons, an NFL record he shares with Tom Brady. Besides long-time punter Jeff Feagles, who played in 352 consecutive games, Brett Favre has played the most consecutive games with 299 in NFL history.
This Brett Favre card is a parallel of the 1991 Stadium Club card that features a Super Bowl variation. Between PSA and BGS, this card's population is 295, with 23% of graded cards earning a 10. In addition, 67 of those 295 have been sold. This is the third-highest card population on the list while also being one of the least condition sensitive cards, which has negatively affected this Brett Favre card's value.
1998 Playoff Contenders Peyton Manning Ticket Gold #87 #'d/25
Recent sale: $5,000
This Peyton Manning rookie card is the most sought after Peyton Manning card in 1998 Playoff Contenders and demands very high value. Besides for Peyton's final season in the NFL, his rookie season was the only time he posted more interceptions than touchdowns where he threw for 26 touchdowns and 28 interceptions. His rookie season also featured the worst record in his career, where the Colts went 3-13
Peyton learned from his mistakes and became one of the greatest quarterbacks to play the game. Over Peyton's 18-year carer, he led his team to the playoffs 15 times while capturing 12 Division Titles. He would win one Super Bowl with both Indianapolis and Denver while becoming the only starting quarterback to win the Super Bowl with multiple franchises.
1998 Playoff Contenders featured three cards per pack, a leather card, a pennant card, and a ticket card, such as this one. This card's total population is 10, and the highest grade obtained is a nine from both PSA and BGS. The card which sold for $5,000 back in October was a BGS 8, so you could only envision what one of BGS or PSA's graded 9's would be deserving.
1998 Metal Universe Randy Moss Precious Metal Gems #190 #'d/50
Recent sale: $5,000
The Minnesota Viking's 21st pick in the first round of the 1998 NFL Draft became one of the greatest wide receivers of all time. Randy Moss exploded onto the scene when he had 69 catches for 1,313 yards and 13 touchdowns in his rookie season. Randy Moss holds the record for most touchdown catches in a single season with 23 and trails only Jerry Rice for most touchdowns in NFL history.
Randy Moss played two seasons at Marshall, where he tallied 78 receptions for 1,709 yards and 28 touchdowns as a rookie. In his sophomore campaign, he had 96 receptions for 1,820 yards and 26 touchdowns. While leading the NFL in receiving touchdowns in five different seasons, Randy Moss was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2018.
As one of the least condition sensitive cards on the list, this card's total population is 13, with one card obtaining a BGS 9.5 and three cards meriting a PSA 10. Just three of the 13 cards have been sold since the card's introduction in 1998. While three cards earned a PSA 10, the highest grade ever sold is a PSA 9.
1998 Bowman's Best Peyton Manning Autographs Atomic Refractors #7B
Recent sale: $5,500
Peyton Manning continues to thrive on this list as one of the most valuable sports cards. Here is another 1998 Bowman's Best Peyton Manning card, though this card features an autographed rookie Peyton Manning card.
As the card shares about Peyton's comprehensive preparation, he was a player who did precisely that. He had a coaching demeanor on the field and consistently caught the defense sleeping, whether catching teams offsides or hurrying up the offense for a quick snap. Peyton also showed his leadership skills by calling audibles and controlling the line of scrimmage. This card reveals the significance that Peyton had on the field throughout his career. He was known for his ability to prepare and dominate each game before taking an NFL snap, where he was already being compared to the great Johnny Unitas.
There have been 34 cards graded, with only 18% of them earning a 10 from either PSA or BGS. About half of those 34 cards have been sold thus far. This card was bought for $5,500 in October, though that card was a BGS 9.5. It's important to note that there are six graded cards out there that could fetch a lot more than the $5,500 shown here.
1998 Leaf Rookies & Stars Peyton Manning Crusade Red #66 #'d/25
Recent sale: $5,500
Archie Manning was an Ole Miss legend, and all signs were pointing to Peyton following in the Ole Miss Rebels direction. However, Peyton chose another SEC team where he became the league's leading passer with 11,201 yards. The fierce Tennessee Volunteer competitor put together the 4th most touchdowns in SEC history with 89 and finished as the Heisman runner-up to Charles Woodson in 1997. The Volunteers retired Manning's number 16 jersey in 2005. Peyton was known, though, for number 18 on both the Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos. While Peyton wore 16 at Tennessee, he wore the number 18 in the NFL in honor of his older brother Cooper Manning who suffered a spinal injury that ended his playing career.
Peyton's 1998 Leaf Rookies & Stars was limited to 25 copies, where 16 total cards have been graded. With a population of five, the highest grade earned from BGS is a 9.5. There have been four cards that earned a PSA 10, making 25% of all graded cards receiving a 10 from either PSA and BGS. While not many 1998 Leaf Rookies & Stars cards have surfaced, this Peyton Manning card is on the weaker side in terms of condition sensitivity.
1998 Fleer Brilliants Peyton Manning 24-Karat Gold #120 #'d/24
Recent sale: $6,000
Peyton was projected the number 1 overall draft pick in 1997 though he decided to stay at Tennesse for his senior year. He would later go on to become the first overall draft pick in the 1998 draft. 1998 Fleer Brilliants is essentially a combination of his Tennesse Volunteer white and orange that he wore so proudly for four years.
This masterpiece of a card is limited, and one of the rarest Peyton Manning rookie cards, and extremely tough to obtain. In addition, 1998 Fleer Brilliants is known for having surface issues. Collectors are willing to overpay for this card when they arise due to the card's appeal how and sparingly this card appears. Many call it one of the all-time great Peyton Manning cards. This Peyton Manning card's eye appeal is off the charts, making this card's value remain secure.
The highest graded 1998 Fleer Brilliants featuring Peyton Manning that ever sold is a BGS 9. There is only 6% of cards with a higher grade than this BGS 9. With a population of 27, there have been 12 cards that have been auctioned.
1998 E-X2001 Peyton Manning Essential Credentials Now #54 #'d/54
Recent sale: $6,200
Peyton keeps the list rolling with this 1998 E-X2001 card. Featured as another Peyton rookie card, this card's photo shows Peyton in his practice jersey. Peyton left such an impact on the University of Tennesse that the school renamed a street after him, called Peyton Manning Pass. He remains an advocate for the school and continues to give back to the Volunteer community while honoring students, staff members, and upgrading school facilities.
The card is serial-numbered to 54, which features a unique mirrored plastic card stock. The set is a 60 card series that features two cards per pack with two versions termed Future and Now. 1998 E-X2001 are extremely scarce cards, and this Peyton Manning card is an awe-inspiring addition to any collection.
There have been 30 graded cards from both PSA and BGS, where just one card or 3% of all graded cards have earned a 10. Only two 1998 E-X2001 Peyton Manning cards have hit the market, most recently a BGS 9.5 selling for $6,200 in November. As one of the most scarce and condition sensitive cards on this list, the collector holding onto the only graded PSA 10 holds tremendous value.
1998 Metal Universe Jerry Rice Precious Metal Gems #1 #'d/50
Recent sale: $6,500
Recognized as one of the best wide receivers of all time, Jerry Rice holds numerous NFL records, including most receptions, receiving yards, touchdowns, and all-purpose yards throughout his 20-year NFL career. Rice was the 16th overall selection in the 1985 NFL Draft and was a three-time Super Bowl champion with the San Francisco 49ers. Rice caught passes from both Joe Montana and Steve Young, two of the best quarterbacks in the league's history. Jerry Rice played in more games than anyone in the history of the NFL who was a non-kicker with 303 games played.
Released August 12, 1998, the 200 card set featured eight cards per pack and 24 packs in a hobby box. Jerry Rice's card remains one of the most sought after parallels of the 90s. The card's total population remains at six, and only one card has a higher grade than this BGS 9 than sold for $6,500 in October. Since its release, only two Jerry Rice cards from 1998 Metal Universe have been sold.
Tony Gonzalez Precious Metal Gems Green #193 #'d/150
Recent sale: $6,766
Perhaps the greatest tight end to ever play the game, Tony Gonzalez was a two-sport athlete at the University of California. Gonzalez played both football and basketball for the California Golden Bears. Over his three years at California, Gonzalez had 89 receptions for 1,302 yards and eight touchdowns. He also averaged 6.4 points and 4.3 rebounds per game for the men's basketball team. Tony Gonzalez was drafted 13th in the 1st round of the 1997 NFL Draft. He had the most career receiving yards for a tight end with 15,127 and receptions with 1,325 and was a 2019 Pro Hall of Fame inductee when all was said and done.
This card features Tony Gonzalez's rarest and most sought after card due to the limited amount produced with a print run of only 150. Since the card's release in 1997, this card's total population is two, with the highest grade earning a BGS 8.
1999 Playoff Contenders SSD Kurt Warner Finesse Gold #146 #'d/25
Recent sale: $6,900
Kurt Warner's story is fascinating, as he was undrafted in the 1994 NFL Draft and shifted to the Arena Football League. In the 1997 AFL season, Kurt Warner played 14 games and threw for 4,149 yards with 79 touchdown passes with only 14 interceptions. He ranks as one of the top 20 Arena Football League players of all-time. Warner remains the only player ever to be inducted into both the AFL and NFL. Kurt Warner only played in 1 game in the 1998 season, his rookie campaign, where he only had 11 passing attempts. The following year, Kurt Warner took the St. Lous Rams to Super Bowl victory. Warner was a Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee in 2017.
As Warner's card was limited to 25 copies, there have only been 15 cards that surfaced, with only three being auctioned. The highest graded card that sold was a BGS 9.5. Only 7% or one card has earned a PSA or BGS 10 since the card's release, and it remains one of the most condition-sensitive cards on this list.
1994 Miami/Bumblebee Dwayne Johnson Perforated
Recent sale: $10,125
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson never played a snap in the NFL, though he had an enormous career off the field, which makes this one of the most unique cards on the list. The Rock's card is so unprecedented that all football collectors seek out this card because of its history. Johnson's family had a history of wrestling, where both his father and grandfather had careers in wrestling. Though, it was "The Rock" who put the WWE on the map.
The card stock this card was printed on came from a sheet that featured other cards, so the card has a perforated edge, which makes this card challenging to find in high grade due to the rough edges. The highest BGS grade awarded is a 9.5 with a population of six, though PSA has given 30 PSA 10's, which puts this card in the lower end of the spectrum in terms of condition sensitivity. Of the 130 graded cards, 23% of cards graded have earned a PSA or BGS 10. In terms of sales, 30 of the 130 cards have been sold. While Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson never appeared in an NFL game, this card sold for $10,125 in October for a PSA 10 due to his uniqueness and originality.
1997 Metal Universe Jerry Rice Precious Metal Gems #84 #'d/150
Recent sale: $11,000
1997 Metal Universe is Jerry Rice's most valuable card on the list. Jerry Rice was an extraordinarily unique and talented wide receiver, and the 13-time pro bowler has set pretty much every record in the book. While he was a household name during the 90s, he is one of the greatest players to ever step onto the field. While putting up stats in the NFL is one thing; it was another matter to be as clutch as Jerry Rice was. He had numerous game-winning catches throughout his career and was one of the best blocking wide receivers to play the game.
The Hall of Fame receiver's card is serial-numbered to 150 and remains highly condition sensitive, as the edges are the most significant issue in earning a high grade with this unique Rice card. This card's total population from BGS and PSA sits at 11, with the highest graded card being a BGS 9. Jerry Rice's card from 1997 Metal Universe listed here is the 4th most valuable football card from the 90s, which was graded as a BGS 8.5 that sold for $11,000.
1997 Metal Universe Barry Sanders Precious Metal Gems #162 #'d/150
Recent sale: $14,500
The great Barry Sanders was a 1988 Heisman Trophy winner who ran for the 4th most rushing yards in NFL history. Playing at Oklahoma State, Sanders posted the most rushing yards in a single season in college football history with 2,628 and 37 rushing touchdowns. The electrifying running back is a member of the 2,000-yard club, which is exclusive to only seven NFL running backs who eclipsed 2,000 rushing yards in a single season.
As one of the greatest running backs in the league's history, Sander's was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2004. Over Sander's 10-year career, he rushed for over 1,100 yards each season. He averaged just under 100 rushing yards per game over his career with 99.8 rushing yards per game while rushing for precisely 5 yards per carry.
Barry Sander's card from 1997 Metal Universe has a population of 11, all of which were graded by BGS. The highest grade earned is a BGS 9 with a population of two. This BGS 8.5 Barry Sander's card is the third most valuable football card from the 90s that recently sold for $14,500.
1998 SP Authentic Peyton Manning #14 #'d/2000
Recent sale: $15,000
Peyton Manning's second most valuable card from the 90s, 1998 SP Authentic, was released after his rookie season began. The card states "Future Watch," which Peyton Manning took to heart. The record-setting five-time MVP has more 4,000 passing yard seasons than anyone in league history and is an all-time great quarterback. Peyton threw for 5,477 yards in a single season, which is the most in NFL history. He is also the oldest quarterback ever to win the Super Bowl when he was 39 years and 320 days old.
As a 126 card set, this 1998 SP Authentic card has an unusually generous print run for a card of such high value. With a total population of 2,097 cards, only 121 cards earned a BGS or PSA 10 as the corner and edge wear are collector's most significant concerns. Only 6% of all cards from 1998 SP Authentic earned a BGS or PSA 10. Despite the high number of cards that earned a PSA or BGS 10, it reaches one of the list's most condition sensitive cards. While the card has a population of 2,097, only 93 cards have been sold.
1998 Topps Chrome Peyton Manning Refractor #165
Recent sale: $15,100
The most valuable and sought after card from the 90s, Peyton Manning's card from 1998 Topps Chrome is the cream of the crop. Peyton Manning owns this list as he has emerged in 9 of the top 21 most valuable cards from the decade. Peyton Manning has had a tremendous career on the football field, and he is also establishing his legacy off the field. Peyton goes down as one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game, so there is good reason this is the most sought after card of the 90s.
1998 Topps Chrome was released in packs of four, with 24 packs per hobby box. This Peyton Manning card highlights the largest population of any card on the entire list, with 5,881 cards graded from BGS and PSA. 21% of all cards graded from BGS and PSA have earned a 10. Of the 5,881 cards graded, 1,202 cards have been sold. The most expensive PSA 10 this card ever fetched was $15,100 back in November.
Top 90s Football Cards Remain Strong in Value
While the majority of football cards from the 90s are trivial, these 21 football cards have endured the overabundance of manufactured sports cards from the decade and will continue to receive attention from card collectors as each card resumes to surge in value. From Peyton Manning to Barry Sanders, to Jerry Rice, and Tony Gonzalez, all of whom are arguably the best players to play their respective position, their football cards have grown to enormous value because of their football career accomplishments.