Troy Aikman Rookie Card Market Guide
Posted on 2/2/2023
When Troy Aikman hit the professional football scene in 1989, he was already recognized as an up-and-coming star. In 1988, while at UCLA, he won the Davey O'Brien Award as the nation's best college quarterback. He'd go on to have a Hall of Fame NFL career, but how has that impacted his rookie cards through the years?
Leading a Comeback Cowboys Team
Drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in 1989, Aikman joined a team that was rebuilding with a new head coach (Jimmy Johnson) after 29 consecutive seasons with the great Tom Landry. The resulting 1-15 season reflected these changes, but within a few years, Dallas was among the NFL's elite once again. In 1992, Aikman led the Cowboys to a decisive 52-17 win over the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXVII. This success garnered a Super Bowl MVP trophy for Aikman and made the Cowboys one of the greatest comeback teams in NFL history. The following season, Aikman and the Cowboys won a 30-13 rematch against the Bills in Super Bowl XXVIII. In 1996, Aikman totaled 3,300 yards passing on the way to winning Super Bowl XXX in a 27-17 victory against the Pittsburgh Steelers. After a 15-year Super Bowl drought dating back to 1977, the Cowboys won three Lombardi Trophies in a four-year span. Dallas hasn't made it back to the big game since their Super Bowl XXX victory.
From Dallas Cowboys Icon to NFL Legend
During his 12 seasons with the Cowboys, Aikman threw for an impressive 32,942 yards and 165 touchdowns while receiving six Pro Bowl invitations. In 2000, Aikman announced his retirement from football after having played his entire professional career in Dallas. Many people believed this was due to his many concussions (made worse because of the cement-like artificial turf of that era). However, Aikman disputed this in a 2013 interview, stating that he retired because of persistent back issues and pain during his final season.
Post-career, Aikman was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006 and received the same honor from the College Football Hall of Fame in 2008. And while he may have left the field, Aikman still hasn't left the game. He continues as one of pro football's most respected announcers, working for Fox Sports and ESPN. In addition, Aikman is a part-owner of the MLB's San Diego Padres.
Are Troy Aikman Rookie Cards Valuable?
Starting with Don Meredith in the 1960s and continuing with Roger Staubach in the 1970s, the Dallas Cowboys have had their share of celebrity quarterbacks. And among these, Troy Aikman is one of a handful to reach legendary status. His remarkable grit, determination and passing skills helped turn the Cowboys around and keep them on top during the early to mid-1990s.
This immense achievement, coupled with his likable personality, has made Aikman one of the most popular football players of the past three decades. Naturally, this level of popularity fuels demand — and demand is what fuels sports card sales.
In addition, there's a solid fan base for the Cowboys and a strong collector's market for the team's memorabilia. Aikman led the team to its iconic Super Bowl domination in the 1990s, and most Cowboys' collectors will also want to collect Aikman memorabilia.
Investment Potential for Troy Aikman Rookie Cards
Troy Aikman played during the so-called "junk wax" era when sports cards were overproduced and flooded the market. Despite this phenomenon, sports figures at the time usually had only two or three rookie card issues, and Aikman is no exception. His three official rookie cards are popular with collectors but have yet to reach astronomical prices. Their relative affordability makes them great collectibles with investment potential, especially if they're in top-grade condition.
Due to the mass production of the era, many sports cards were cut unevenly during manufacturing. Unless it's a card you particularly want and can't get elsewhere, try to avoid buying cards with crooked centering and poor alignment. This may result in a lower grade number and affect potential value.
Sites such as Sports Card Investor, SportsCardsPro and PriceGuide.Cards track the current auction sales for sports cards and report trends and averages on cards ranging from Ungraded to Gem Mint quality. These sites can be extremely helpful if you're trying to learn about the fair market value of your sports cards.
Top Troy Aikman Rookie Cards to Collect
Despite the abundance of Troy Aikman cards produced during his career, only three Troy Aikman rookie cards were issued:
- 1989 Score #270 Troy Aikman
- 1989 Topps Traded #70T Troy Aikman
- 1989 Pro Set #490 Troy Aikman
Star rookie players sometimes had a pre-rookie college card issued before the NFL draft or even an occasional "unofficial" rookie card issued by fast food restaurants or local businesses. These cards are always fun to find and often have some value. Unfortunately, no cards of this type exist for Aikman's rookie year. As for his breakout years at UCLA, all you'll find are "flashback" cards made years into Aikman's pro career, including two Upper Deck UCLA Bruins cards issued in 1993 and 2012.
The trending prices listed below are for base cards. Since card tracking sites are constantly updated, these prices are subject to change.
1989 Score #270 Troy Aikman ($5,417)
Considered the most valuable and popular of all Troy Aikman rookie cards, this Score release shows an appealing headshot of the young QB flashing his trademark grin for the camera. The design is elegant in simplicity, with the photo framed in green and white and Score's "1989 Rookie" logo in blue and white at the top.
This Score card also has some historical interest, as part of a 330-card set that marked Score's debut appearance in the football card market. Score's first football card set was issued in 15-card packs, each with an additional trivia card. Interestingly, the first 244 cards in the set featured regular players. After that, cards 245-272 featured rookie players selected in the 1989 NFL draft. The remainder of the cards in the pack featured several categories, including ones for All-Pro selections and record breakers. The set ends with a tribute card to Tom Landry, who owner Jerry Jones had just released after 29 consecutive years with the Dallas Cowboys.
This particular set is well worth finding because of its rookie pack's wealth of future stars. Future legends and Hall of Famers include Don Beebe, Steve Atwater, Tim Brown, Cris Carter, Keith Jackson, Michael Irvin, Chris Miller, Andre Rison, Eric Metcalf, Barry Sanders, Deion Sanders, Mark Rypien, Derrick Thomas, Ron Woodson and Thurman Thomas, in arguably one of the most star-studded rookie sets ever produced for the NFL.
At PriceGuide.Cards, this card is trending at a top price of $1,199 for an Ungraded example, with a top graded price of $5,417 (grade unspecified). At Sports Card Investor, recent sales show Gem Mint examples selling at online auctions for prices ranging from $474 to $625.
At SportsCardsPro, this card is trending at $14 for Ungraded, $18 for Grade 7 and $24 for Grade 8. Prices rise to $46 for Grade 9, and jump to $125 for Grade 9.5 and $534 for Gem Mint.
1989 Topps Traded #70T Troy Aikman ($2,872)
This retro-vibe card has a photo of Troy Aikman on the field in his white Cowboys uniform. The streamlined graphics feature a white border with blue and orange striped accents, creating a pop of color in an otherwise simple design. This card was available only as part of a boxed set that included a host of stars from 1989's stellar draft line-up.
PriceGuide.Cards shows this card with a top price of $2,872, grade not specified. Likewise, Sports Card Investor is tracking recent online auction sales ranging from $61 to $99 for Gem Mint examples. At SportsCardsPro, prices for this card are trending at $4 for Ungraded, $7 for Grade 7 and $15 for Grade 8. Grade 9 sells for around $18, with prices reaching $36 for Grade 9 and $73 for Gem Mint.
1989 Pro Set #490 Troy Aikman ($349)
This colorful card is interesting because it shows an action shot of Aikman getting ready to throw a pass while still wearing his UCLA Bruins uniform, although there is a Dallas Cowboys helmet and banner at the top. The image is surrounded by a red border with white gridiron stripes, and there's a historic "Pro Set Prospect No.1 Pick" banner in green at the lower right corner.
Like its competitor Score, Pro Set debuted its first football card set in 1989. Its first series featured a set of 440 cards, followed by a 100-card second series and a final update set of 21 cards. Like the Score set, Pro Set's rookie card pack included an impressive galary of 1989 rookie talent.
PriceGuide.Cards shows this card trending with a maximum price of $250 for an Ungraded example and a top price of $349 (grade unspecified). At SportsCardsPro, an Ungraded example sells for around $3, a Grade 7 for $6 and a Grade 8 for $10. A Grade 9 trends for $18, while prices reach $39 for a Grade 9.5 and $88 for a Gem mint example.
Where to Find Troy Aikman Rookie Cards
You can find Troy Aikman rookie cards at a wide range of online auction and sale sites, including:
- SCP Auctions
- Memory Lane
- Pristine Auction
- Robert Edward Auctions
- Heritage Auctions
You can also find collectible cards at some of the many sports memorabilia shows held nationwide. Additionally, you'll find updated show schedules and information on sports card forums, social media sites and collectors' sites.
How Are Troy Aikman Rookie Cards Graded?
Sports cards are graded according to a numeric grading system ranging from Ungraded to Perfect 10. Here's how it works:
Perfect 10:This card is graded Gem Mint across all four grading criteria: corners, surface, edges and centering. It's the absolute best a card can be and is flawless even under 10x magnification.
Gem Mint: Gem Mint cards are perfect, with sharp corners, vibrant coloring and no damage or stains.
Grade 9.5: Near-Mint condition, typically with just one minor flaw.
Grade 9: Excellent condition, with just a couple of minor flaws.
Grades 8 and below: These have condition damage or flaws and are priced lower.
Raw or Ungraded: Raw cards have just been pulled from their packages and are new to the market. Ungraded cards haven't been through the grading process and may or may not be new to the market.
As with all collectibles, values depend upon supply and demand. During the 1990s, there was a collector boom as the general population began to discover that sports cards could be valuable. In the ensuing decade, it seemed as if half the population started collecting sports cards, putting them away to sell them years later at vastly inflated prices. However, this type of hoarding affected rarity, which is a key component of value.
The collectibles market, however, isn't always predictable, especially with the prevalence of online auctions. Two high-roller collectors may suddenly start a bidding war for a particular card, causing it to skyrocket in price. Likewise, a player may suddenly become more famous in pop culture or on social media, and that player may see a spike in their memorabilia. Also, a rare card may stagnate, while a more common card may suddenly soar in popularity. These variables are part of the excitement of collecting and can impact prices on any given day.
Should I Get My Sports Cards Graded?
Grading provides an excellent way to authenticate and preserve the integrity of your sports card collection. When cards are graded, they're individually authenticated, assigned a grade number and kept in an international database. Graded cards are much easier to trade or sell, as the grading provides a recognized reflection of the card's quality.
Even if you're not planning to sell your cards, you'll benefit from having them graded, especially if you display them, or if you plan to donate them to an organization or bequeath them to someone else. By getting your cards professionally graded by a certified expert, you'll have a fully authenticated collection that you can pass down for generations. For further information on CSG's 10-point grading scale and to find out more about our industry-leading services, visit CSGcards.com.
*Any mention of "investment potential" is for entertainment only and should not be construed as investment advice. The Certified Collectibles Group does not provide investment advice and is not liable for any buy, sell or trade decisions made by any parties.
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