It wasn’t always this bad for Cleveland Browns fans. There once was a time when they had not only one of the NFL’s best teams–but the best player, too. His time in the league was too short but as he turns 81 on Friday, it seems fitting to look back at Jim Brown rookie cards and the player many still believe to be the greatest running back in history.
Certainly, Brown stood alone in the era with dazzling on the field performances, memorable runs and statistics that resulted in four MVP awards.
Brown’s Browns Legacy
Brown finished his career with 12,312 career rushing yards and 106 touchdowns. He broke nearly every record the NFL had to offer, averaging over 100 yards per game for the duration of his career.
Brown led the league in rushing eight times. He was the first back in the history of the league to eclipse the 10,000 yard mark, despite playing only nine seasons.
He led Cleveland to the NFL title in 1964.
Brown wasn’t just skilled at football. He was also an excellent basketball and lacrosse player. Some pondered if he may have actually been more dominant in lacrosse than football.
Brown’s 1958 Topps card is easily the best football rookie card of the 1950s and is considered among the top cards in any sport. Prices have soared in recent years. In the fall of 2016, a PSA 9 example sold for $358,500. Even NM/MT 8s have skyrocketed in value. Four years ago, they sold for an average of around $2,000. Lately, the going rate has hovered at about five times that amount.
For those on a more modest budget, EX/MT and NM examples can still be found for $500-$1,500, however.
Brown’s second Topps card, issued in 1959, is more affordable (although one of the two PSA 10s sold for over $30,000 in 2016). Graded 8s have risen only about $100 in the past four years to around $350, making the 1959 Topps Jim Brown one of the better values in vintage football cards. Near mint (7) examples generally cost around $200-$225.
Brown can also be found in two very challenging 1959 sets–one issued by Kahn’s Hot Dogs in a small section of the country as well as the very challenging 1959 Bazooka issue. PSA has authenticated and graded a total of only 11 Kahn’s and 13 Bazooka.
Collecting Brown cards from 1960 through is final card in 1966 remains a relatively affordable task. However, investors and Hall of Fame rookie card collectors have begun seeking out some of the highest graded examples of all of Brown’s cards. His 1962 Topps card, with the black borders, is elusive in higher grades with only a few dozen examples graded 8 or 9.
Here’s a list of the 32 current most watched Jim Brown rookie cards (and others) on eBay.