Super Bowl MVPs Rookie Cards Explained
Sixty Minutes. Technically, that is the length of the Super Bowl. Of course, add in the pre-game build-up, the halftime show and all the multi-million dollar commercial breaks in between, and the event feels more like a three-day weekend festival. So it’s a bit of a misnomer to suggest the game only lasts 60 minutes.
Another misnomer is that the highly touted MVP trophy brings with it greatness, acclaim and hobby stardom. Collectors still clamor for the rookie card of the Super Bowl III MVP, Joe Namath, but it’s tough to even find a rookie card for Dexter Jackson (drafted in 1999), who took home the MVP in Super Bowl XXXVII for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers back in 2003. The Super Bowl MVP transformed the label of a few players in the NFL from ‘successful career’ to ‘legacy’, while for others, it was just their one shining moment.
Either way, here’s a list of the Super Bowl MVP’s and their preferred rookie cards. Click the links to see them on eBay.
Super Bowl I & II
Bart Starr, QB, Green Bay: 1957 Topps
Starr had 2 touchdown passes in the Super Bowl I vs the Chiefs and 202 yards passing and a TD in the Packers Super Bowl II victory over the Raiders. His 1957 Topps rookie card is one of the keys to the set along with first year cardboard of Johnny Unitas and Paul Hornung.
Super Bowl III
Joe Namath, QB, New York Jets: 1965 Topps
Namath threw for 206 yards passing in the Jets historic upset of the Colts. Part of the unique ‘tall boy’ set, Namath’s rookie card photo was taken in the hallway of a hospital where he was recovering from surgery.
The card is difficult to find in high grade and that’s an understatement. One of four PSA 9s sold for $60,000 in 2014. $500 will buy you a low-grade example. It’s $1,000 and up for a better one.
Super Bowl IV
Len Dawson, QB, Kansas City: 1963 Fleer
Dawson tossed for 142 yards passing and 1 TD as the Chiefs topped the Vikings. His first-year card is on the last year of Fleer’s AFL exclusive.
Super Bowl V
Chuck Howley, LB, Dallas: 1966 Philadelphia
Howley had 2 interceptions and a fumble recovery, but he became the only MVP to lose the game as his Cowboys lost to the Colts, 16-13.
The Philly Gum sets are great, if a little small. The Howley rookie card is surprisingly hard to find, especially in higher grades. Great crew cut, Chuck!
Super Bowl VI
Roger Staubach, QB, Dallas: 1972 Topps
America’s Team rebounded after a loss the previous year, with a 24-3 victory over the Dolphins and Staubach had 119 yards passing and 2 TD’s in the win. Staubach’s rookie card is easy to find, but very popular and high grade, centered examples fetch more than you might think.
Super Bowl VII
Jake Scott, S, Miami: 1971 Topps
Scott had 2 interceptions in the Dolphins defensive minded 14-7 defeat of the Redskins, to seal the only undefeated season in NFL history. His rookie card is not one of Topps’ best efforts but you can own one for just a few bucks.
Super Bowl VIII
Larry Csonka, FB, Miami: 1969 Topps
33 carries, 145 yards rushing, 2 TDs in 24-7 victory over Vikings. Csonka’s rookie card has great color. It’s the key to the set and you’ll pay $75 and up for a nice one. $30 or $40 will net you a respectable copy.
Super Bowl IX
Franco Harris, RB, Pittsburgh: 1973 Topps
158 yards rushing, 1 TD in 16-6 win against the Vikings. Franco’s stocking cap sideline shot captures the 1970s very nicely, if a bit oddly.
His rookie card costs about the same as Csonka’s, due in part to the overwhelming popularity of Steelers cards.
Super Bowl X
Lynn Swann, WR, Pittsburgh: 1975 Topps
4 catches, 161 yards, 1 TD in a historic performance leading the Steelers to a 2nd straight Super Bowl win, 21-17 over the Cowboys. Along with Dan Fouts, this is one of the biggies in the ’75 Topps set. Centering is a big issue for this card and prices depend largely on if it’s close to even. He also has a ‘Highlights’ card in this set.
Super Bowl XI
Fred Biletnikoff, WR, Oakland: 1965 Topps
4 catches, 79 yards in Raiders first Super Bowl victory, a 32-14 finish over the Vikings. Fred’s rookie card is in the same set as Namath’s and is a single print, making it pretty pricey. Very popular with Raiders fans, too, you’ll pay $150 and up to get a decent one.
Super Bowl XII
Harvey Martin & Randy White, DL, Dallas: 1976 Topps (both)
Led Dallas defense that forced eight turnovers in 27-10 win vs the Denver Broncos. Both cards are inexpensive, as cards of linemen usually are, but if you want the best of the best, a graded example can cost more than you’d think.
Super Bowl XIII & Super Bowl XIV
Terry Bradshaw, QB, Pittsburgh: 1971 Topps
Bradshaw cemented his place in the Hall of Fame with back to MVP’s by throwing for 318 yards and 4 TDs against the Cowboys, then 309 yards and 2 TD’s the following year against the Rams. The 1971 Topps set is very condition-sensitive and subject to centering issues so you’ll fork over $175 or more for a nice near mint Bradshaw. Graded NM/MT 8s are $600 and up; 9s will reach into the thousands.
Super Bowl XV
Jim Plunkett, QB, Oakland: 1972 Topps
261 yards passing, 3 TDs in 27-10 victory over Eagles. Plunkett’s career–and cards–are really underrated. His rookie card shows him in his College All-Stars uniform. You can own a graded ‘8’ for under $30.
Super Bowl XVI, XIX, & XXIV
Joe Montana, QB, San Francisco: 1981 Topps
The only 3-time MVP in Super Bowl history. Montana’s rookie card is a giant among modern era issues and while it’s easy to find, prices remain strong, especially at the highest graded levels where big money is sometimes spent. You can own a nice NM/MT 8 for $150 or so but a graded 9 will be $600 and up.
Super Bowl XVII
John Riggins, RB, Washington: 1972 Topps
166 yards rushing, 1 TD against the Dolphins. Riggins is a Jet on his ’72 Topps card and his hair has a life of its own (remember the mohawk, too?). You can own a nice NM/MT example for around $40 or less.
Super Bowl XVIII
Marcus Allen, RB, Los Angeles: 1983 Topps
20 carries, 191 yards rushing, 2 TDs in dominating 38-9 win over the Redskins. One of a few decent rookie cards in the ’83 set, you can own one for $30-40 that is very nice.
Super Bowl XX
Richard Dent, DE, Chicago: 1985 Topps
2 sacks, 2 forced fumbles in stream-roll of Patriots. Dent is one of only a couple of significant rookie cards in this black-bordered set. High-grade examples, then, are a little hard to locate if you’re really picky. Otherwise, a few bucks will get you this one.
Super Bowl XXI
Phil Simms, QB, New York: 1980 Topps
22-25, 268 yards passing, 3 TDs in win over Broncos. Simms is the key to the 1980 Topps set. Readily available, it won’t cost you much unless you’re into graded 9 or 10-type sets and even then, a 9 is less than $50. Not bad for one of the best football cards of the 80s.
Super Bowl XXII
Doug Williams, QB, Washington: 1979 Topps
Quietly a trailblazer to many, Williams had one maybe the greatest half in Super Bowl history, enroute to 340 yards passing and 4 TDs as his Redskins toppled the Broncos. Not hard to find and not expensive.
Jerry Rice, WR, San Francisco: 1986 Topps
11 catches, 215 yards, 1 TD in win over Bengals. Rice rookies are on the Mt. Rushmore of modern era rookie cards. At the highest of the high-end graded examples, prices stretch into crazy numbers. A PSA 10 sold for nearly $12,000 recently. A 9 will be $350 and up but a nice 8.5 can be had for around $130. Plenty out there, but those green borders make it a challenge to land a high-end copy.
Super Bowl XXV
Ottis Anderson, RB, New York: 1980 Topps
102 yards rushing, 1 TD as Giants defeated the Bills 20-19 after a Scott Norwood miss. Easy to locate in nice shape for $5 or less. Again, graded mint examples will be more.
Super Bowl XXVI
Mark Rypien, QB, Washington: 1989 Score
292 yards passing, 2 TDs in win over Bills. From the ‘overproduction’ era, this one isn’t quite as plentiful as others but not expensive at all.
Super Bowl XXVII
Troy Aikman, QB, Dallas: 1989 Score
273 yards passing, 4 TDs against the Bills. The 1989 Score set gave us many good rookie cards and this boyish-looking photo of Aikman is a popular one. Beckett 9.5’s can be found for under $40, which seems like a really good price for a player of Aikman’s stature.
Super Bowl XXVIII
Emmitt Smith, RB, Dallas: 1990 Score Supplemental
30 carries, 132 yards, 2 TDs vs the Bills. A PSA 10 is $250 and up, but a 9 is yours for $50 or so. Buy the best you can afford.
Super Bowl XXIX
Steve Young, QB, San Francisco: 1984 Topps USFL or 1986 Topps
325 yards passing, 6 TDs on the Chargers.
Young was a member of the ill-fated Los Angeles Express on Topps’ USFL set in ’84 and when that was over, he was a Tampa Bay Buc in ’86. An inauspicious beginning to a Hall of Fame career.
The USFL card is much harder to find and more expensive ($400 and up for a 9), but probably much cooler if you’re a football fan. Click the link to see prices for each.
Super Bowl XXX
Larry Brown, CB, Dallas: 1991 Pacific
Two interceptions against Neil O’Donnell in the 27-17 victory over the Steelers. Easy to find and very,very cheap.
Super Bowl XXXI
Desmond Howard, KR, Green Bay: 1992 Classic or 1993 SP
244 all-purpose yards, 99-yard kick return TD vs the Patriots. Other than the Heisman, this was Howard’s moment in the sun. An electrifying player but not an expensive football card.
Super Bowl XXXII
Terrell Davis, RB, Denver: 1995 Select Certified or 1995 SP
30 carries, 157 yards, 3 TDs against the Packers. One of the most dominant performances on the ground in Super Bowl history, Davis was great for the short time he lasted. Another relatively inexpensive one to own.
Super Bowl XXXIII
John Elway, QB, Denver: 1984 Topps
336 yards passing, 1 TD vs the Falcons. Elway and Dan Marino are kings of the 1984 Topps set. PSA 10s are $6,000 and up but you can own a very nice 8 for $50 or less. They’re not hard to find.
Super Bowl XXXIV
Kurt Warner, QB, St. Louis: 1999 Playoff Contenders Auto
414 yards passing, 2 TDs in the thriller over the Titans. The autographed rookie card era arrived around the time Warner was showing up on cards.
Super Bowl XXXV
Ray Lewis, LB, Baltimore: 1996 Bowman’s Best
Led a dominant Ravens defense past the Giants. Rookie cards were now officially complicated with so many different types of what were essentially the same card. There were other Lewis rookie cards but this is the one most seem to like.
Super Bowl XXXVI, XXXVIII and XLIX
Tom Brady, QB, New England: 2000 SP Authentic
The numbers don’t show everything as he passed for 145 yards passing and 1 TD in his 1st Super Bowl against the Rams, but he made up for it against the Panthers two years later throwing for 354 yards and 3 TDs. Brady became a three-time winner in XLIX.
Super Bowl XXXVII
Dexter Jackson, CB, Tampa Bay: 2003 Topps Chrome Ring of Honor
Two first-half interceptions, although many defensive players could have taken the award home in the 48-21 drubbing of the Raiders.
Super Bowl XXXIX
Deion Branch, WR, New England: 2002 SP Authentic Auto
11 catches, 133 yards on the Eagles.
Super Bowl XL
Hines Ward, WR, Pittsburgh: 1998 Playoff Contenders Auto
5 catches, 123 yards, 1 TD against the Seahawks. Seems to be tough in high grade. $100 and up for a near mint example.
Super Bowl XLI
Peyton Manning, QB, Indianapolis: 1998 Playoff Contenders Auto
247 yards passing, 1 TD versus the vaunted Bears defense. Just one Super Bowl ring for Manning which shows how hard it really is. Again, the Rookie Ticket battles the SP for supremacy and high-end examples sell deep into five figures sometimes.
Super Bowl XLIII
Santonio Holmes, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers: 2006 Upper Deck Exquisite Auto
9 catches, 131 yards, and the game-winning touchdown in dramatic fashion.
Super Bowl XLIV
Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints: 2001 Playoff Contenders Auto
32-of-39, 288 yards, 2 TDs over Peyton Manning’s Colts. Like other players of the era, Brees has a ton of rookie cards and this one is considered most desirable, despite the sticker autograph.
Super Bowl XLV
Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers: 2005 SP Authentic Auto
24-of-39, 304 yards, 3 TDs vs the Steelers. The patch autographs, numbered to 25 or 99 are most desirable…and most expensive but Rodgers’ career could be one for the ages.
Super Bowl XLII & XLVI
Eli Manning, QB, New York Giants: 2004 Bowman Chrome Refractor Auto
One more MVP than his brother, defeating Tom Brady’s Patriots both times, even thwarting a New England undefeated season along the way.
Super Bowl XLVII
Joe Flacco, QB, Baltimore Ravens: 2008 National Treasures Rookie Patch
With a few different low numbered patch autos in this set, you have your pick and of course, there are other Flacco rookies on the market. Anything with a low serial number will be desired.
Super Bowl XLVIII
Malcolm Smith, LB, Seattle Seahawks: 2014 Panini Seahawks Super Bowl Champions set
Those who went looking for a Malcolm Smith rookie card after Super Bowl XLVIII came up empty handed. There weren’t any. Eventually a few were issued but the first came as part of Panini’s Super Bowl Champions special edition set.
There are others, but this one perfectly recognizes that anyone can be the MVP…even a guy who needs to have a card made for him afterward.