Most Valuable 1990 Football Cards | Your Guide

Check out this guide to find out which are the most valuable 1990 football cards and learn why they hold such a high price on the market.

The Most Valuable 1990 Football Cards | A Complete Guide

For many of us who grew up in the 1990s, collecting football cards was the ultimate pastime. Whether it was opening packs, trading with friends, or amassing an entire collection, collecting these precious pieces of cardboard felt like a treasure hunt in its own right. If you’re lucky enough to still have some of those cards today, you may just be sitting on a fortune! 

In this post, we will take a look at the ten most valuable 1990 football cards that could make your wallet happily fuller than when you first opened them all those years ago. So let’s plunge into an amazing trip down memory lane and discover which 90s football cards are shelling out big bucks now!

What Are Football Cards? 

Before we dive into the list, let’s first define what exactly football cards are. Football cards, also known as trading cards or collectible cards, are small rectangular pieces of cardboard featuring a picture of a football player on one side and their stats and information on the other. 

They were initially created for collectors to trade with each other and provide fans with an opportunity to get closer to their favorite players. However, over time, some of these cards have become incredibly valuable and sought after by collectors and enthusiasts alike.

The Rise of Football Cards in the 1990s

The popularity of football cards grew tremendously during the 1990s due to various factors. Firstly, this was a decade that saw the rise of many iconic football players such as Joe Montana, Troy Aikman, and Barry Sanders. As a result, demand for their cards skyrocketed. 

Secondly, card manufacturers like Topps and Upper Deck introduced new technologies such as autographed cards and game-worn jersey cards that added value to the collectibles. 

Lastly, the growth of the internet allowed collectors to easily buy, sell, and trade their cards online, making the hobby more accessible and widespread.

The Most Valuable 1990 Football Cards

#1 1998 Peyton Manning Playoff Contenders Rookie Ticket Auto Rookie Card – Estimate value: $65,000

Get your hands on the most valuable football card from the 90s – Peyton Manning’s Playoff Contenders Rookie Ticket Auto Rookie Card. With Manning’s fame and career skyrocketing, this card is a true gem. Limited to just 200 copies, it’s a collector’s dream.

But here’s the kicker – this is Manning’s ONLY signed rookie card. Talk about exclusivity and value! And if you happen to have one of the gold versions, you’re even luckier. Only 25 of those were made.

A PSA 10 version of this card fetched a mind-blowing $52,580 in November 2016. And now, experts estimate its worth to be a staggering $65,000. That’s more than most people’s cars!

#2 1998 Topps Chrome Peyton Manning Refractor #165 – Estimate value: $15,100

1998 Topps Chrome Peyton Manning Refractor #165

Own a piece of football history with the highly sought-after 1998 Topps Chrome Peyton Manning Refractor #165 card. This card considered the cream of the crop from the 90s, showcases Manning’s incredible legacy on and off the field.

Released in limited quantities, the 1998 Topps Chrome series is highly collectible, and Manning’s card stands out as the most valuable. With a staggering 5,881 cards graded by reputable sources like BGS and PSA, this iconic card has a 21% chance of achieving a perfect 10 grade.

Only 1,202 of these exceptional cards have been sold, making it a rare find for any dedicated collector. The highest recorded sale for a PSA 10 graded card reached an impressive $15,100 in November.

Secure your place in football history with the Peyton Manning 1998 Topps Chrome Refractor #165 card, a true gem from the golden era of football collectibles.

#3 1998 SP Authentic Peyton Manning #14 – Estimate value: $15,000

Get your hands on Peyton Manning’s prized 1998 SP Authentic card, the third-most valuable from the 90s! Released during his rookie season, this card is a testament to Manning’s future potential.

Known for his record-breaking performances as a five-time MVP, Manning holds the title for the most 4,000 passing-yard seasons in NFL history. His remarkable achievement of 5,477 passing yards in a single season remains unmatched.

What sets this card apart from the rest is its rarity. With only 2,097 cards in existence, and a mere 121 earning a BGS or PSA 10 grade, this card is truly a collector’s dream. The corner and edge wear are the primary concerns for collectors, making a perfect grade even harder to come by. Only 6% of all 1998 SP Authentic cards were cut.

Despite its scarcity, only 93 of these coveted cards have been sold to date. 

#4 1997 Metal Universe Barry Sanders Precious Metal Gems #162 – Estimate value: $14,500

1997 Metal Universe Barry Sanders Precious Metal Gems #162

Own a piece of football history with the 1997 Metal Universe Barry Sanders Precious Metal Gems card! This rare collector’s item is one of only 11 in existence, all of which have been professionally graded by BGS. With a BGS 8.5 grade, this card is highly sought after by collectors.

Barry Sanders, a true legend in the game, was a Heisman Trophy winner and one of the greatest running backs of all time. Known for his electrifying style on the field, Sanders holds the record for the most rushing yards in a single college football season. He’s also a member of the exclusive 2,000-yard club in the NFL.

Barry Sanders is known for his electrifying runs and record-breaking achievements. In college, he set the record for most rushing yards in a single season with 2,628 yards and 37 rushing touchdowns. In the NFL, he ranks 4th in all-time rushing yards.

Inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2004, Sanders is widely considered one of the greatest running backs in history. Throughout his 10-year career, he consistently rushed for over 1,100 yards each season, averaging nearly 100 rushing yards per game with an impressive 5 yards per carry.

This specific card is highly sought after, with only 11 in existence and all graded by BGS. The highest grade achieved is a BGS 9, of which there are only two. The BGS 8.5 version recently sold for an impressive $14,500, making it the third most valuable football card from the 90s.

#5 1997 Metal Universe Jerry Rice Precious Metal Gems #84 – Estimate value: $11,000

#10 1998 Metal Universe Jerry Rice Precious Metal Gems #1 - Estimate value: $6,500

Introducing Jerry Rice’s most prized possession: the 1997 Metal Universe card. This card represents the pinnacle of Rice’s exceptional career as a wide receiver, where he shattered countless records and earned the admiration of fans worldwide. 

But Rice’s greatness extended beyond his stats; he possessed the rare ability to deliver in the most critical moments of the game. Not only was he a superstar on offense, but he also excelled in the art of blocking.

Now, let’s talk about the card itself. Limited to just 150 copies, this card holds incredible value. However, its condition is crucial for collectors, with the edges being the main concern. Only 11 of these cards have been graded by BGS and PSA, with the highest grade achieved being a BGS 9. 

And here’s the kicker: the 1997 Metal Universe card holds the honor of being the fourth most valuable football card from the 90s. A BGS 8.5 grade was recently sold for an impressive $11,000.

#6 1994 Miami/Bumblebee Dwayne Johnson Perforated – Estimate value: $10,125

While he may not have played in the NFL, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s impact on and off the field is undeniable. His wrestling lineage and WWE fame have made his trading card one of the most sought-after in the football collecting world.

What sets this card apart is its history and uniqueness. Printed on card stock from a sheet with other cards, it features a perforated edge that adds to its rarity. Finding it in top condition is no easy task due to the rough edges. Only six cards have received a prestigious BGS grade of 9.5, and 30 have earned a PSA 10 grade.

Out of the 130 graded cards, a significant 23% have reached the perfect PSA or BGS 10 grade. As for sales, 30 of these cards have already changed hands. This particular card sold for an impressive $10,125 in October.

Although Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson never played in an NFL game, the allure of this card lies in its uniqueness and originality.

#7 1997 Brett Favre Fleer Metal Universe Precious Metal Gems Green – Estimate value: $7,301

These cards hold immense value due to Favre’s countless NFL records. If you’re lucky enough to possess one, you have one of the most coveted football cards from the 90s.

What sets this green version apart is its rarity compared to the red alternative. Only 15 green cards were ever produced, while 135 red cards made their way into circulation. It’s worth noting that the wax finish on these cards can impact their overall condition.

An ungraded green card recently fetched a staggering $7,301 at auction. This impressive price tag solidifies its standing as one of the most valuable football cards from the 1990s. And with Favre’s enduring legacy, we anticipate these cards will only appreciate with time.

#8 1999 Playoff Contenders SSD Kurt Warner Finesse Gold #146 – Estimate value: $6,900

#10 1998 Metal Universe Jerry Rice Precious Metal Gems #1 - Estimate value: $6,500

Discover the captivating journey of Kurt Warner, from being undrafted in the 1994 NFL Draft to becoming a legend in both the Arena Football League and the NFL. With an impressive season in the AFL, throwing for over 4,000 yards and an incredible 79 touchdown passes, Warner’s talent earned him a spot among the top 20 Arena Football League players of all time.

Warner’s rookie year had a slow start with just one game played and limited passing attempts. However, he quickly made a name for himself by leading the St. Louis Rams to a Super Bowl victory the following season. In 2017, Warner’s remarkable career was recognized with his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The rarity and exclusivity of Warner’s card make it even more remarkable. With only 25 copies in existence, and only 15 cards surfacing, this card is truly one-of-a-kind. 

The highest-graded card to be auctioned was a BGS 9.5, showcasing its pristine quality. With just one card earning a PSA or BGS 10, this card remains highly coveted due to its rarity and condition sensitivity.

#9 Tony Gonzalez Precious Metal Gems Green #193 – Estimate value: $6,766

#10 1998 Metal Universe Jerry Rice Precious Metal Gems #1 - Estimate value: $6,500

Get ready to witness the greatness of Tony Gonzalez, possibly the greatest tight end in football history. Not only a football star, but Gonzalez also showcased his skills on the basketball court during his time at the University of California.

During his impressive three-year college career, Gonzalez racked up 89 receptions, 1,302 yards, and eight touchdowns on the football field. As if that wasn’t enough, he also contributed 6.4 points and 4.3 rebounds per game for the university’s basketball team. Talk about a true athlete!

Selected 13th overall in the 1997 NFL Draft, Gonzalez made his mark in the league. Setting records left and right, he accumulated an astonishing 15,127 receiving yards and 1,325 receptions as a tight end. It’s no wonder he was rightfully inducted into the Pro Hall of Fame in 2019.

Now, get your hands on a piece of history. This card is Tony Gonzalez’s rarest gem with only 150 ever produced. And guess what? There are only two in existence, with the highest grade of BGS 8. 

#10 1998 Metal Universe Jerry Rice Precious Metal Gems #1 – Estimate value: $6,500

#10 1998 Metal Universe Jerry Rice Precious Metal Gems #1 - Estimate value: $6,500

Jerry Rice, widely regarded as one of the greatest wide receivers of all time, has left an indelible mark on the NFL. Holding numerous records for receptions, receiving yards, touchdowns, and all-purpose yards, Rice’s 20-year career has cemented his status as a true legend. 

A three-time Super Bowl champion with the San Francisco 49ers, Rice’s talent was experienced by fans of both Joe Montana and Steve Young, two of the league’s greatest quarterbacks. 

Notably, Rice holds the record for playing the most games in NFL history among non-kickers, with a staggering 303 games.

In 1998, an iconic card set was released, featuring 200 cards with eight cards per pack and 24 packs in a hobby box. Among them is Jerry Rice’s highly coveted card, which has become one of the most sought-after parallels of the 90s. 

With a total population of only six, this particular card holds even greater value with its impressive BGS 9 grade. 

Recently, a similar card was sold for an astounding $6,500 in October, showcasing the escalating demand for this rare piece. Since its release, only two Jerry Rice cards from the 1998 Metal Universe set have been sold, making it an even more exclusive and valuable collectible. 

#11 1998 E-X2001 Peyton Manning Rookie Card #54 – Estimate value: $6,200

#11 1998 E-X2001 Peyton Manning Rookie Card #54 - Estimate value: $6,200

Add this awe-inspiring Peyton Manning rookie card to your collection. Featuring a unique mirrored plastic card stock, this scarce 1998 E-X2001 card showcases Peyton in his practice jersey. Known for his impact on the University of Tennessee, Peyton even has a street named after him.

The card is part of a limited 60-card series, with two versions: Future and Now. With only 30 graded cards from PSA and BGS, this card’s condition holds immense value. Only one card (3% of all graded cards) has earned a perfect 10.

Recently, a BGS 9.5 Manning card sold for $6,200 in November. But the real gem is the only graded PSA 10 card that remains in the hands of a collector. 

#12 1998 Fleer Brilliants Peyton Manning 24-Karat Gold #120 – Estimate value: $6,000

#12 1998 Fleer Brilliants Peyton Manning 24-Karat Gold #120 - Estimate value: $6,000

Projected as the number 1 overall draft pick in 1997, Peyton Manning made the bold decision to stay at Tennessee for his senior year. However, his talent and determination earned him the honor of being the first overall draft pick in the 1998 NFL draft.

This special card combines the iconic white and orange colors of Manning’s Tennesse Volunteers uniform, symbolizing his four years of success and pride. It is a true masterpiece, known to be one of the most sought-after rookie cards of Peyton Manning. The rarity and limited availability of the 1998 Fleer Brilliants make it a coveted item among collectors.

Despite some surface issues that are common with this series, collectors are willing to pay hefty sums to own this card due to its unique appearance and scarcity. It is widely regarded as one of the all-time great Peyton Manning cards, thanks to its unparalleled eye appeal.

The highest-graded 1998 Fleer Brilliants card featuring Peyton Manning ever sold was graded as a BGS 9, with only 6% of cards having a higher grade. Out of a population of 27, there have been 12 cards that have been auctioned so far.

#13 1998 Leaf Rookies & Stars Peyton Manning Crusade Red #66 – Estimate value: $5,500

#13 1998 Leaf Rookies & Stars Peyton Manning Crusade Red #66 - Estimate value: $5,500

Peyton Manning, a name synonymous with greatness, had massive shoes to fill as the son of Ole Miss legend Archie Manning. Despite all expectations, he chose a different path and became a standout quarterback for another SEC team – the Tennessee Volunteers.

During his time at Tennessee, Manning showcased his skills and set records, becoming the leading passer in SEC history. With an impressive 11,201 yards and 89 touchdowns, he firmly secured his place among the league’s best. Although he narrowly missed out on the Heisman Trophy in 1997, finishing as the runner-up to Charles Woodson, Manning’s impact on the game was undeniable. His number 16 jersey was ultimately retired by the Volunteers in recognition of his extraordinary contributions.

While Manning’s college years were extraordinary, his NFL career was nothing short of legendary. He made his mark as a Colt, donning the iconic number 18 in honor of his older brother Cooper, whose tragic spinal injury cut his football dreams short. Manning’s time with the Indianapolis Colts and later with the Denver Broncos solidified his status as one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time.

Among Manning’s memorabilia is the coveted 1998 Leaf Rookies & Stars card, a limited edition with only 25 copies in existence. Of these, only 16 cards have been graded, with a mere five achieving the highest grade of 9.5 from BGS. Remarkably, four cards have attained the prestigious PSA 10 rating, accounting for 25% of all graded cards. While the overall condition sensitivity of the 1998 Leaf Rookies & Stars collection is well-known, this particular Peyton Manning card holds immense value and significance.

Discover the remarkable journey of Peyton Manning, from the Rebel-sought Ole Miss to his prominent place in football history. Explore the limited edition 1998 Leaf Rookies & Stars card that encapsulates the impact of his career.

#14 1998 Bowman’s Best Peyton Manning Autographs Atomic Refractors #7B –Estimate value: $5,500

Experience the value of one of the most sought-after sports cards – the 1998 Bowman’s Best Peyton Manning autographed rookie card.

Known for his strategic prowess on the field, Peyton Manning’s comprehensive preparation set him apart from other players. From catching teams offside to orchestrating audibles and controlling the line of scrimmage, Peyton’s leadership skills were unmatched. This card captures the essence of his significance throughout his career, already drawing comparisons to the legendary Johnny Unitas.

Out of the 34 graded cards, only 18% achieved a perfect score from PSA or BGS. Approximately half of the graded cards have been sold, with this specific card being purchased for $5,500 in October. However, it’s worth noting that there are six graded cards out there that may fetch a significantly higher price than what is shown here.


Football cards from the 1990s have held up over time – and in some cases, even increased in value. What’s more, their aesthetic appeal and entertainment factor are second to none when compared to more modern card sets. 

Whether you’re an experienced collector or a newbie looking to break into the hobby, it’s worth investing in one of the cards on this list. So take your pick and enhance your collection with one of these iconic cards from the 1990s! 

They may be valuable now but they’ll likely retain that value for years (maybe even decades) to come. Who knows – you might just find yourself sitting on top of a financial goldmine with one of these cards in your possession! 

Just make sure that you take good care of whatever card you get as proper storage is essential to keeping these collectibles in peak condition both aesthetically and financially speaking.

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