He’s often referred to as the most elusive running back in the history of the NFL. Every time it seemed he was about to be caught in the backfield, the guy in the “Honolulu Blue” and silver would find a way to break through for a big gain. For those who recall his magic act, Barry Sanders football cards remain wildly popular with collectors.
Where it Started
Sanders was born in Wichita, Kansas. He suited up for Wichita North High School and caught the attention of college scouts everywhere. He opted to play for Oklahoma State University in college and that turned out to be a terrific choice. In 1988, Sanders galloped for 2,850 yards and an astonishing 42 touchdowns. In all, Sanders set 42 NCAA records. It was beyond obvious at that point that this kid had something special despite the fact he stood just 5-8.
The Detroit Lions picked Sanders 3rd overall in 1989. His first year included 14 rushing touchdowns and 1,470 yards. Sanders went on to play and dazzle fans with his outstanding quickness up to the 1998 season. He rushed for 15,269 overall yards which included his best season in 1997 with 2,053 rushing yards. His amazing ability to shake defenders certainly set him apart from other NFL running backs at the time and still does to this day.
Many speculate Sanders would have easily eclipsed Walter Payton’s career rushing yardage mark had he not retired at a relatively young age. That mark was eventually broken by Emmitt Smith.
Barry Sanders rookie cards are in 1989 products including the debut set of Score, a Texas-based manufacturer. It’s that green-bordered card that is considered his most popular first-year card. While it’s less plentiful than his 1989 Topps Traded card, you can still own a mint condition example for a modest investment.
He’s pictured in his college uniform on the 1989 Pro Set rookie card, which is always available for just a few dollars.
It’s the later year autographed Barry Sanders cards that generate the biggest bids at auction. He’s on a 1999 Donruss Elite “Passing the Torch” insert card with Walter Payton numbered to 1500 (the first 100 were signed by each player). He also has some very popular signed cards in Panini’s recent high-end brands including National Treasures, Flawless, Black Gold and Immaculate.
You can check out the real-time list of most watched Barry Sanders football cards on eBay via the live list below.