Great Cards From Topps’ Landmark 1986 Football Set

by Todd Neikirk

042623B-1024x536 Great Cards From Topps' Landmark 1986 Football SetIn 1986, Topps released a new set of football cards. Like the 1985 set, the cards were condition sensitive due to a color border. Unlike the 1985 issue, this set was chock full of rookie stars.

The stars who made their card debuts in this set would appear in numerous Super Bowls and redefine the game over the coming years. Here are some of the coolest cards to collect from 1986 Topps football.

Boomer Esiason #255 

Boomer-Esiason-179x300 Great Cards From Topps' Landmark 1986 Football Set

Image via PSA

Born in Long Island, Boomer Esiason became a star at the University of Maryland. Despite his success in college, the lefty QB wasn’t selected until the second round of the 1984 draft. A motivated Esiason became a star with the Bengals, leading the team to Super Bowl XXIII and capturing the 1988 NFL MVP Award. 

Esiason has remained in the public eye both as a New York-based radio host and also works as a commentator on CBS. PSA 10 copies of his rookie card are hard to come by, but once they do come available, they sell for between $250 and $500. 

Bruce Smith #389

Bruce-Smith-177x300 Great Cards From Topps' Landmark 1986 Football Set

Image via PSA

Born in Norfolk, Virginia, Bruce Smith would go on to become a dominant force for his home state Virginia Tech Hokies. After winning the Outland Trophy in 1985, Smith was selected 1st overall by the NFL’s Buffalo Bills and the USFL’s Buffalo Stars. 

Smith opted to join the Bills and would become one of the greatest defensive ends to ever play the game, holding the record for most career sacks with 200. He would also play in four Super Bowls, though the Bills lost each one. This rookie card is highly sought after with PSA 10 copies selling for more than $3,000. 

Steve Young #374

Steve-Young-177x300 Great Cards From Topps' Landmark 1986 Football Set

Image via PSA

After starring for BYU, Steve Young took a long and winding path to NFL stardom. He began his career in the USFL before a bumpy tenure with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He then spent multiple years backing up Joe Montana. When he finally got his chance to be a full-time starter in 1991, he made the most of it. 

Over the course of his career, the lefty QB won two MVP Awards and made 7 Pro-Bowls. While he has a USFL rookie card, his first NFL card is in the 1986 Topps Set. The condition-sensitive card is hard to find in a PSA 10 selling for up to $25k. The PSA 9 version sells for around $1400. 

Reggie White #275

Reggie-White-179x300 Great Cards From Topps' Landmark 1986 Football Set

Image via PWCC

Like Steve Young, Reggie White began his professional football career in the USFL. Unlike Young, however, White did not have to wait to become a star in the NFL, recording 13 sacks during his rookie season with the Philadelphia Eagles. The deeply religious White was nicknamed the Minister of Defense. 

Considered one of the greatest players in NFL history, White tragically died of a heart attack in 2004 at the age of 43. His 1986 card is highly sought after, selling for around $6,000 in a PSA 10. 

Jerry Rice #161 

Jerry-Rice-178x300 Great Cards From Topps' Landmark 1986 Football Set

Image via PSA

Playing for small school Mississippi Valley State, Jerry Rice wasn’t selected until the 16th pick of the 1985 draft. Teaming with all-World QB Joe Montana, Rice would go down as the greatest wide receiver in league history. 

Over the course of his career, #80 would make 13 Pro Bowls, lead the league in receiving yards 6 times and win 3 Super Bowl rings. The 1986 Topps is Rice’s only rookie card and sells for top dollar. A PSA 9 copy of the card sells for around $2,300 and a PSA 10 could sell for more than $80K. 

052721D-1footer Great Cards From Topps' Landmark 1986 Football Set*Any perceived investment advice is that of the freelance blogger and does not represent advice on behalf of GoCollect.

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