John Elway Rookie Card Market Guide

Posted on 2/24/2023

Want to invest in a John Elway rookie card? Our market guide will tell you everything you need to know.

John Elway was a fearsome player on the field, but are his rookie cards valuable? Our full market guide will give you an in-depth look at the value of his rookie cards and help you decide whether to invest or not.

Who Is John Elway?

John Elway is remembered as an excellent passer and a tough quarterback, but he actually got his start in baseball. He excelled at baseball and football as a college athlete, and the New York Yankees drafted him in the amateur baseball draft. In 1983, the Indianapolis Colts drafted him as their No. 1 pick, but he had aspirations elsewhere. In an early glimpse of his ambitious personality, he played the Colts off against the Yankees. When he threatened to sign a pro contract with the Yankees, the Colts were forced to trade him to the Denver Broncos, where he signed a five-year, $5 million contract.

John Elway played in Denver his entire career, which lasted 16 seasons in the NFL, as he built a reputation as a resilient player who always pushed hard for a win. In his own words, "I'm all about winning. I like to win, and I don't like to lose." When he retired, he had led 47 winning or tying drives in the final quarter or overtime. That's more than any other quarterback. He was known for his ability to make things happen in or out of the pocket, making him an exciting player to watch and an excellent asset for the Broncos. In his early seasons, many thought he was a one-trick pony without much passing ability, but he soon proved them wrong. He became known as "the master of the inconceivable pass thrown to the unreachable spot."

Elway was the first quarterback to start five Super Bowls. His performance in the first three were not notable, but in the latter part of his playing days, he'd win back-to-back Lombardi Trophies in 1998 and 1999. It was a remarkable way to cap off Elway's remarkable career as he retired following his second Super Bowl win. In 2004, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

What Makes John Elway's Cards So Valuable?

John Elway was a risk-taker on the field, and that made him exciting to watch. His game-changing drives in the final moments created excellent sporting moments that will likely stick in fans' minds for years to come. The rookie cards of players like this tend to hold value well because people like to collect players that impact the game. The fact that Elway won two Super Bowls and was inducted into the Hall of Fame makes him more memorable and could increase the value of his rookie cards.

People are wary of cards from the late '80s and '90s because they fall under the Junk Wax Era when cards were mass-produced, and many poor-quality cards were released. Luckily, the 1984 sets came just before this era, so the quality is higher, and the value of cards may also be much higher.

The 1984 set with Elway's rookie card is one of the most popular sets from the '80s. It featured rookie cards from 12 Hall of Famers and many of the most famous names in football history. As such, any cards from this set could be popular with collectors and investors.

There is only one official Elway rookie card from the 1984 Topps set, so anyone hoping to add him to their collection is searching for the same card. In many cases, this kind of exclusivity pushes prices up.

Investment Potential of John Elway Cards

Usually, rookie cards of Hall of Famers can be a sensible choice for investors. When the players are memorable, like John Elway, this can push the value up further. When the number of available rookie cards is limited, the price may increase, especially as good-condition cards are more difficult to find. His rookie card was also part of a popular set before the big boom in sports cards, which watered down the value.

It may be a very successful investment if you can get a 1984 Topps John Elway rookie card in the proper condition. Sales data shows that it has increased in value over the years, and if the trends continue, it could have excellent resale value in the future. There are also some other exciting collectibles to look out for, like the Topps Stickers series. Although these may not be as valuable as the official rookie card, finding one in perfect condition is harder. If you can, this could increase in value as long as the condition is maintained.

Prices for John Elway rookie cards are quite high, so a large initial investment is required. That said, it may be worth it, as it is a popular card that investors and collectors will likely be interested in for years to come.

The Best John Elway Rookie Cards on the Market

1984 Topps #63 John Elway ($6,495)

The 1984 Topps #63 John Elway rookie card is his only official rookie card. This is from an iconic set, and his rookie card is one of the most memorable cards in the series, so it's often considered the holy grail of any John Elway collection. The design is notable, as it has a diagonal image showing Elway without his helmet. It's a great photo that shows a bit of personality, which collectors may like.

This is a valuable card, and if it is in perfect condition, its average value is around $6,495, according to SportsCardsPro. In Near-Mint condition, the average price is still roughly $1,350. However, if you find the right buyer, this card could sell for much more. In February 2021, a Mint condition card sold for $17,342. Additionally, PriceGuide.Cards has records of a card selling for over $27,000 in 2021.

Sales data shows this card's value has skyrocketed over the years, so it may be worthwhile for investors. In 2012, the average value of all graded cards was just over $80, and the highest sale recorded was $2,250. By 2022, the average value increased to around $120, and sales reached as high as $7,755. The value steadily increased between these dates, with a large jump in certain years. This trend suggests that the Elway rookie card could grow in value in the future.

1984 Topps Stickers #179 John Elway ($750)

Although there is only one official John Elway rookie card to collect, investors should also consider his entry in the 1984 Topps Stickers set. At the time, Topps Stickers were popular among card collectors, and even though they are not usually as valuable as regular cards, they may be worth buying. Most stickers end up in albums or are stuck on random things by children, so finding them in good condition is hard. The print quality and attention to detail on Topps Stickers are lacking compared to cards, so many of them have off-centered images and miscuts. So, if you can find a well-printed one in Mint condition, it could be worth something.

According to SportsCardsPro, a Mint condition Topps Sticker #179 has an average value of $750. In Near-Mint condition, it could sell for around $230. This sticker is not anywhere near as expensive as his official rookie card, and the historical sales data on SportsCardsPro shows that the value has stayed stable over time. As an investor, you may not make much money on this sticker. But it is an exciting collectible that you can usually find for a decent price if you want to expand your Elway collection beyond his official rookie card.

2012 Topps Rookie Reprint #63 John Elway ($12)

A 1984 Topps John Elway rookie card is expensive to buy. If it is out of your price range, but you still want an excellent Elway card in your collection, consider the 2021 Topps Rookie Reprint set. This is an exact recreation of his original rookie card. Although the value is nowhere near the actual rookie card, it's a nice, affordable alternative for collectors. As it is a modern card, there are some excellent variations to collect too.

The standard rookie reprint has an average value of $12.50, according to PriceGuide.Cards. The value has dropped far below that in some years, and the card only sold for a few dollars, so this is easy to add to your collection. Some of the variations are more valuable. The rookie reprint from the Chrome set, with the foil backing, has an average value of around $50. The autographed version of the card is surprisingly affordable, with an overall average value of just over $90. However, in some years, it has reached upward of $200. It is an autographed card, so it may increase in value more than other variations, but it is still cheap compared to some.

Another version of the Topps Rookie Reprint card was produced in 2015. Again, this was an autographed card with two images and some career stats about Elway on the back. It has sold for as much as $600 in the past, but the average value is usually around $200-$300. It is difficult to tell whether this card has investment potential because, although it is autographed, it is a reprint. If you can get it for a low price, it may be worth taking a chance on, but don't count on it having a lot of resale value in the future.

If you are an investor hoping to see a big return on your cards, these reprints may not interest you. However, fans of John Elway who want his cards for a personal collection should consider these as a more viable alternative to his expensive classic rookie card.

Where Can I Purchase John Elway Rookie Cards?

Now you know which John Elway rookie cards to add to your collection, but where can you find them? There are several places to find specific rookie cards, but online auction sites are the best. Although you may get lucky and find what you're looking for in specialist hobby stores or conventions, online auctions allow you to search for the exact Elway rookie card you want. These are some of the best sites to look at:

Use sites like SportsCardsPro and PriceGuide.Cards to monitor the value over time and ensure you get a reasonable price from auction sites.

How Are John Elway Rookie Cards Graded?

Grading is vital when buying and selling John Elway rookie cards. Professional grading bodies like Certified Sports Guaranty (CSG) assess the cards and assign them a score based on the condition. Cards that score higher will often sell for more due to their authenticity and recognized grade. 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.

If a card scores a maximum of 10 points in every area, it is awarded a Perfect 10 — the highest possible score. A card can still achieve an overall average of 10 and be considered Gem Mint condition. Slight wear and tear are acceptable, and cards may still score well. However, if there are dings in the corners, visible damage to the edges or the image is not centered correctly, the grade will drop, which will impact the card's value.

Once the card has been graded, it will be placed in a protective plastic slab. This state-of-the-art casing prevents damage to the card and has been specially designed to display the card and highlight all the fine details.


John Elway is an NFL icon, and his rookie card is one of the more expensive options from the famous 1984 Topps set. The sales history shows that the value has climbed over the years, and there is a chance that this trend will continue in the future. It is also the only official rookie card available for John Elway, which makes it more desirable. So, it's an attractive card for investors if you can afford the large entry price.

If you are building a personal collection and want to add some John Elway rookie cards, the reprints and the Topps Sticker are suitable alternatives. They don't have the same investment potential, but they're still unique cards to add to your collection. If you are lucky and find a Topps Sticker in excellent condition, it may be worth something. The same is true of some of the autographed reprints, but don't expect them to sell for as much as the official rookie card.

Whether adding these cards to your collection or purchasing them as an investment, you'll benefit from having them graded. 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

*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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