While the story around the NFL this morning may be the Denver Broncos impressive victory over the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens, the sports card hobby has (over)reacted in typical fashion with over 20,000 Peyton Manning listings showing up currently on eBay.
Manning is no stranger to football card collectors, but the focus each year typically turns to the next big thing, rather than old reliable workhorses (or in this case, Broncos). Therefore, it takes a truly special performance to shake the dust off the cards of an aging legend, but on Thursday night the four-time MVP did just that. With an incredible seven touchdowns against the league’s most feared defense, the inevitable hype machine has begun, and bidders were off to the races.
One of the most marketable athletes in recent memory, Manning has used his soft-spoken demeanor, charm, and pedigree to become the face of the NFL. In addition to countless commercials, his image has graced the cover of numerous sports card products over the year. In fact, since 1998, over 10,000 of his cards have been manufactured, including over 3,300 memorabilia cards and over 1,800 autograph cards.
Quarterbacks always sell, but Manning often finds himself among the most collected of the league’s veterans. 1998 was not a banner year for card manufacturers, and the sheer amount of manufacturers at the time has resulted in an inordinate amount of Manning rookie cards. Two of the more popular rookie cards are his 1998 SP Authentic (#d to 2000), which found itself featured as one of 250 sports cards in Joe Orlando’s Collecting Sports Legends: The Ultimate Hobby Guide.
His 1998 Playoff Contenders (#d to 200) has the benefit of being autographed. A few graded copies are available ranging from $3,800 to $8,500 depending on the number.
Although currently a member of the Denver Broncos, when Manning is immortalized in Canton he’ll likely be remembered as a member of the Indianapolis Colts. Upon his heralded entry into the league, he was immediately compared to the gold standard of NFL quarterbacks: Johnny Unitas. The fact that Unitas was a Colt cemented their bond in the eyes of commentators, and the hobby took notice, issuing a Passing the Torch card (#d to 1500) in 1999 Donruss Elite. 100 of the cards were signed by Manning and Unitas, just three short years before his passing. The card has taken on legendary status among collectors, as evident by the sole BIN listing on eBay for $3,599.
A new NFL season has begun and predicting what players will be hot will be as difficult as predicting what team will win the Super Bowl. It is an optimistic time when every team (and every player) has a chance to succeed and reach greatness on both the gridiron and the final bid. One thing can be certain, however, is that no one in Denver is talking about Joe Flacco banners anymore.