While attending Ringgold High School in Monongahela, PA, Joe Montana was a well-rounded athlete, where he played both football and basketball. Regardless of earning the starting quarterback position in his junior year, Joe Montana was leaning towards a career in basketball. Despite receiving a basketball scholarship from North Carolina State, he remained focused on football and joined the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
In his freshman year, Joe Montana was effectively the 7th QB on the Fighting Irish depth chart. While finally earning the starting quarterback role, Joe Montana took Notre Dame to the National Championship game, known infamously as the "Chicken Soup Game." Joe Montana had the flu and faced miserable weather conditions in the Cotton Bowl. While experiencing hypothermia, the training staff had Montana eat chicken soup in the locker room at halftime. The Comeback Kid, as poised as ever, would toss a game-clinching 8-yard TD pass as the clock expired to win the game for the Fighting Irish while securing the National Championship.
Drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in 1979, the franchise dominated the 1980s with Joe Montana at the helm, winning seven NFC West titles, including 4 Super Bowls. As a 3-time Super Bowl MVP, Montana has thrown the most passes in Super Bowl history without an interception, with 122 passing attempts. He also has a 127.8 passer rating in the Super Bowl, which is the highest rating in NFL history. As a remarkably poised quarterback, Montana had a 63.2% completion rate while achieving 26 comeback victories and 28 game-winning drives.
Joe Montana's career was highlighted by his intangibles, as he was fluid on every snap. What isn't abstract is the value of Joe Montana's football cards. As one of the best quarterbacks to ever step onto the field, the value of Joe Montana's football cards is correlated with his success. Continue reading to view the most valuable Joe Montana cards:
2000 Donruss Elite Passing the Torch Joe Montana Autographs #PT5
Recent sale: $365
As an 18 card set, this Joe Montana 2000 Donruss Elite Passing the Torch Autographs card is very challenging to obtain. It is crucial to understand that there are numerous Joe Montana autographs on the market today, which are either fake or signed via an autopen. An autopen is a device used that signs a player's signature; in turn, the downside of receiving a card that is signed with an autopen carries little value in the sports cards world.
This card features Joe Montana playing for the San Francisco 49ers, where he played the majority of his prosperous career. Joe Montana is viewed scrambling out of the pocket, where he was more effective as a passer than any quarterback that has played the game. What separates Joe Montana from other renowned quarterbacks that have stepped onto the field, is his ability to be nimble on his feet. Joe had the sense to move both in and out of the pocket while maintaining his accuracy down the field.
There is no data of any 2000 Donruss Elite Passing the Torch cards submitted to PSA, which begins to explain the rarity of this Joe Montana card. Continuing with the scarcity of this card, BGS has only received 20 Passing the Torch Joe Montana cards. With 20 cards graded by BGS, none were awarded a BGS 10, with the highest grade earning a BGS 9.5, with a population of 9.
2003 SP Authentic Sign Of The Times Joe Montana #JM
Recent sale: $500
Highlighted here is yet another Joe Montana autographed card amidst this 2003 SP Authentic Sign Of The Times. Joe Montana is observed dropping back in the pocket, where he is respected as a phenomenal pocket passer. For the length of Montana's career, he had a 63.2 completion percentage, with his best percentage coming in 1989, where he completed 70.2% of his passes. The 1989 season also marked the fourth and final time Joe Montana would prevail with a victory in the Super Bowl.
Sign Of The Times cards were dispersed among 1 in every 27 packs. With 39 different inserts in the series, these inserts featured the best players from both the past and present. There were two versions of the card, which are classified as silver and gold. This 2003 SP Authentic Sign Of The Times Joe Montana card is remarkably rare, with only 25 cards placed into production. While there are no records of any hobbyist reaching out to PSA to receive a grade, there are likewise very few in existence within the BGS database. With a population of a mere 5, the highest grade earned is a BGS 9.5, with a scarce population of just 3.
2017 Panini Flawless Distinguished Patch Autographs Joe Montana #DI-JM #'d/10
Recent sale: $517
With the 2017 Panini Flawless Distinguished Patch Autographs, we have yet another card featuring San Francisco 49ers legend Joe Montana using a three-step drop. While the card mentions Joe Montana's aerial display on October 14, 1990, Joe Montana not only had the best passing performance in his career but also San Francisco 49ers history. With Montana passing for six touchdowns, Hall of Fame receiver Jerry Rice accounted for five of those, which is a San Francisco 49ers record for most points accounted for in a single game with 30.
The set was released on April 4, 2018, which features 190 cards, with Joe Montana's card as the focal point. While collecting other sets, you may sometimes find a signature on a sticker or label. However, this is not the situation with the 2017 Panini Flawless, as all signatures are directly on the card. Joe Montana's card is part of the Distinghuisng Patch Autographs checklist, which comprises of 25 players. This Joe Montana 2017 Panini Flawless Distinguished Patch Autographs card is so rare that PSA has only received one card, which surprisingly earned a PSA 10, while BGS has yet to host the card for grading.
2013 Panini National Treasures Joe Montana Colossal Jersey Number Signatures Prime #28
Recent sale: $517
2013 Panini National Treasures is the cream of the crop, which includes rookies, top players, and Hall of Famers. Whether you are an autograph, rookie, or memorabilia collector, look no further. This 2013 Panini National Treasures card emphasizes Joe Montana scrambling outside of the pocket, where he may have felt most comfortable.
Joe Montana's game-worn autograph and patch, featuring #16, shows up loud and clear here. While Joe Montana and #16 coexist, Montana wore #19 when he was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs. While the Kansas City Chiefs already retired Len Dawson's #16, there were rumors that the Chiefs offered #16 to Montana regardless. Additionally, Montana wore #3 when playing for Notre Dame, but the Chiefs also retired that number for Hall of Fame kicker Jan Stenerud. Since Joe Montana wore #19 when he played Pop Warner, a nonprofit organization that provides youth football in Langhorne, Pennsylvania, he elected to go with #19.
This card has a small population of 2 across both BGS and PSA. This Joe Montana card graded at PSA earned a 9, while the other 2013 Panini National Treasures card obtained by BGS earned a BGS 8.5.
1991 Upper Deck Heroes Joe Montana Heroes Autographs #9
Recent sale: $570
This 1991 Upper Deck Heroes card emphasizes Joe Montana playing for both the San Francisco 49ers and Notre Dame Fighting Irish. While playing for Notre Dame, Joe Montana made a name for himself for years to come. He played for Notre Dame from 1974 until 1978; however, as a freshman, he was unable to take the field per the team's policy. While appearing in 7 games in 1975, Montana threw for 507 yards, with 4 TD and 8 INT. Before the 1976 season, he separated his shoulder and redshirted for an additional year of eligibility.
When the 1977 season commenced, Montana was the 3rd QB listed on the depth chart. A player by the name of Rusty Lisch was the starting QB for the first three games of the season but was taken out of the third game for Gary Forystek. Unfortunately for Forystek, he suffered a gruesome injury, and broke his vertebra, clavicle and endured a severe concussion, and never played another down. Lisch was then put back into the game but pulled for Montana late in the 4th quarter. When Joe Montana took the field, he never looked back, as the team won 9 straight games on their route to a National Championship.
With a PSA population of 67, this Joe Montana 1991 Upper Deck Heroes card has received a PSA 10 on 42 separate occasions. With the population of 57 of this Joe Montana card obtained by BGS, none earned the top grade, with a total of 10 cards receiving a BGS 9.5.
1986 Topps Joe Montana #156
Recent sale: $1,500
This 1986 Topps set is remarkable, refreshing, and preferred over the 1985 Topps set by collectors, although the 1986 Topps is more delicate. The backdrop of the card mimics the gridiron, where Joe Montana became extraordinarily popular and distinguished his place in history. 1986 Topps Set featured 396 cards in its checklist, with this being Joe Montana's second most valuable card.
Joe Montana was significantly misevaluated when the 1979 NFL Draft arrived. Joe Montana was selected in the 3rd round, as the 82nd overall pick by the San Francisco 49ers. When this card was produced, Joe Montana was the 2nd leading all-time passer for the San Francisco 49ers. That would quickly change, as Montana presently retains the top spot as the passing yards leader of the franchise.
With 1,563 collectors seeking a grade from PSA for this 1986 Topps Joe Montana card, only 22 cards obtained the perfect PSA 10. In reference to BGS, no Joe Montana cards have earned a flawless 10. Of the 418 cards seeking a grade from BGS, the highest obtained was a BGS 9.5, with a population of 7.
1981 Topps Joe Montana #216
Recent sale: $15,610
This 1981 Topps card is both Joe Montana's rookie and most expensive card. Unfortunately, this card is susceptible to condition restraints, including centering issues, and printing errors. Topps issued this set with 528 cards but were precarious while introducing the Topps logo on a football card for the first time on the face of the card. With the presence of Joe Montana's rookie card in this 1981 Topps set, the entire collection increased its value.
While Joe Montana entered the league in 1979, he only threw 23 passes his rookie season. In the 1980s, Topps was taking photographs of players for their rookie cards in their first season in the league. But because Joe Montana wouldn't become the starting quarterback until midway through the season, Topps was hesitant to establish Montana's rookie card and waited until 1981. Therefore, 1981 became Joe Montana's rookie card. This 1981 Topps card is the most valuable Joe Montana card, including the most valuable football card of the 1980s.
With a whopping 16,436 submissions to PSA, this 1981 Topps Joe Montana rookie card experienced just 107 PSA 10's. With an additional 9,132 sent to BGS, a mere four 1981 Topps Joe Montana cards earned a BGS 10.
Joe Montana's Next Chapter
With such an established career in the NFL, Joe Montana was inducted to the Hall of Fame on his first ballot, and will forever be recognized as one of the greatest QBs of all-time. The impact that Joe Montana had on the football community confirmed his worthiness of having his hometown of Ringgold, name their stadium Joe Montana Stadium after the legendary San Francisco 49ers quarterback. Despite retiring in 1994, Joe Montana's charismatic personality continues to place him in the limelight. Montana often appears in commercials, delivers speeches as a guest speaker, while growing his wine company, Montagia.