15 Most Valuable 1984 Topps Football Cards
Other than the bright colors and great photography within its checklist, there is one thing about the 1984 Topps football card set that is instantly noticeable...
the cards are titled downwards and to the right.
Oh, and the set happens to be loaded with significant rookie cards.
While Hall of Fame quarterbacks John Elway and Dan Marino are the two most desirable, you'll also find Eric Dickerson, Howie Long, Rickey Jackson, and Darrell Green making their cardboard debuts in this set.
And those are just some of the essential rookie cards within this iconic set.
Because of all that incredible star power, this set remains one of the most popular in the hobby.
And in this guide, I'll run through the fifteen most valuable in the set.
Let's jump right in!
1984 Topps #63 John Elway Rookie Card
Estimated PSA 10 Value: $3,250
As a kid growing up in Indiana during the late 80s and early 90s, I heard John Elway's name pop up seemingly year after year during the middle of another dreadful Colts season.
It was always something like, "We coulda had John Elway as our quarterback instead of Jack Trudeau!"
That noise kind of subsided when the Colts drafted Jeff George, but then it came back several years later after he didn't pan out and went to Atlanta.
Many fans in Central Indiana didn't seem to get over Elway refusing to play in Indy until Peyton Manning became a Colt.
Anyway, that whole drama about Elway not wanting to play for the Colts ended up working out quite well for him and Denver Broncos fans.
He'd end up with two Super Bowl rings, an MVP, and nine Pro Bowl appearances over his iconic career.
And today, his rookie card is the most expensive in the set.
1984 Topps #123 Dan Marino Rookie Card
Estimated PSA 10 Value: $2,500
With the first pick in the United States Football League's history, the Los Angeles Express selected Dan Marino on January 4, 1983.
Later in April that year, the Miami Dolphins drafted Marino with the 27th pick in the 1983 NFL Draft.
Even though he was irritated that five other quarterbacks were drafted before him by other NFL teams, he decided to Don Shula in Miami.
After David Woodley struggled to start the 1983 season, Marino made his first start for the Dolphins in Week 6.
Marino jumped at the opportunity and immediately erased any doubt the naysayers had, leading Miami to the playoffs and earning a spot on the Pro Bowl roster as well.
The next season in 1984 was one for the record books.
After setting records for most touchdown passes (48) and passing yards (5,084), both since broken, Marino led the Dolphins to a 14-2 record and an eventual Super Bowl loss to Joe Montana and the 49ers that year.
Unfortunately, it was the only Super Bowl appearance he ever made, but he continued to destroy opposing defenses for years to come and Marino's rookie card remains incredibly desirable.
1984 Topps #228 Walter Payton
Estimated PSA 10 Value: $2,000
When I was in elementary school, my grandpa received this NFL Films tape on VHS called Crunch Course as a gift for renewing his Sports Illustrated magazine subscription.
I must have watched that thing at least one hundred times.
It covered the evolution of some of the game's legendary defenders from Chuck Bednarik, Dick Butkus, Ray Nitschke, Lawrence Taylor, and Howie Long, to name a few.
They also covered hard-nosed running backs like Frank Gifford, Larry Csonka, and you guessed it: Walter Payton.
The commentator talked about how grueling Payton's offseason workouts were as he prepared for the regular season.
He also mentioned how Payton was always looking downfield, trying to find the extra angle, and would punish opposing defenders by running head-on into them rather than run out of bounds.
Payton's 1984 season was one of his personal best as he rushed for 1,684 yards and scored 11 touchdowns.
He was remarkable to watch.
His rookie card and all of his cards, for that matter, remain extremely popular among collectors.
1984 Topps #280 Eric Dickerson Rookie Card
Estimated PSA 10 Value: $1,250
If there was noise throughout Central Indiana during the 1980s regarding Elway's departure from Indianapolis, I remember there was just as much noise about Eric Dickerson's arrival in Indianapolis.
Colts fans were ecstatic when the team traded for the prolific rusher during the middle of the 1987 season and were elated to see him in their backfield at the Hoosier Dome.
During his first few seasons in Indy, Dickerson performed well, even leading the league in rushing yards (1,659) and yards from scrimmage (2,036) in 1988.
However, his production fell off during his 30s, and he would retire in 1993 at the age of 33.
He still holds the record for most NFL rushing yards in a season (2,105) and currently ranks ninth on the all-time rushing leaders list.
Dickerson's best years were in Los Angeles, where he exploded onto the scene as a rookie in 1983 with 1,808 rushing yards.
To me, the most impressive thing about Dickerson is that he was the fastest to 10,000 rushing yards in NFL history, accomplishing that feat in an eye-popping 91 games, seven games shorter than Jim Brown's 98.
1984 Topps #198 Curt Warner Rookie Card
Estimated PSA 10 Value: $1,000
The Seattle Seahawks drafted Curt Warner out of Penn State with the third pick overall in the 1983 NFL Draft, right after the Rams took Eric Dickerson.
And, while Warner's first season wasn't quite as impressive as Dickerson's, it was still pretty remarkable.
Rushing for 1,449 yards, scoring 13 touchdowns, and 1,774 yards from scrimmage during his rookie 1983 campaign, Warner was an easy choice for the Pro Bowl.
A torn ACL during Week 1 in 1984 against Cleveland derailed his sophomore season entirely, but he did follow up with Pro Bowl selections in 1985 and 1986.
Warner was a solid running back over eight seasons in the NFL but didn't quite put up the numbers to crack the Hall of Fame.
1984 Topps #15 Chris Hinton Rookie Card
Estimated PSA 10 Value: $900
Although Chris Hinton had a fantastic career in the NFL, earning seven Pro Bowl appearances and five All-Pro selections, he was known for years as "the guy the Broncos traded for John Elway."
The Colts later included Hinton as part of the trade package they sent to the Atlanta Falcons to grab Jeff George in 1990.
Hinton was a phenomenal offensive lineman, but he just always seemed to be overshadowed by the quarterbacks involved in the trades in which he was included.
Eric Dickerson rushed for only 677 yards during the 1990 season with the Colts, and you have to wonder if Hinton's departure had a significant impact on that decline.
Hinton's card gets an added boost in value in PSA 10 condition since there are just four examples that have achieved that grade.
1984 Topps #129 Dwight Stephenson Rookie Card
Estimated PSA 10 Value: $550
A five-time Pro Bowler and five-time All-Pro, Dwight Stephenson was the centerpiece of the Miami Dolphins offensive line that gave up the fewest sacks in the NFL for a stunning six straight seasons from 1982-1987.
He was also named AFC Offensive Lineman of the Year from 1983 to 1987.
In other words, Stephenson's explosive skill on the offensive line was a huge part of why Dan Marino was able to be so successful early on in his career.
Don't get me wrong, Marino had an unbelievable arm and quick release, but guys like Stephenson gave him the precious time he needed in the pocket to find his receivers downfield.
His rookie card can fetch several hundred dollars in top condition.
1984 Topps #51 Joe DeLamielleure Rookie Card
Estimated PSA 10 Value: $400
There was perhaps no one happier when DeLamielleure suited up for the Bills in 1973 than O.J. Simpson.
As part of the Bills incredible offensive line known as the "Electric Company," DeLamielleure helped mow over opposing defenders as Simpson scampered to 2,003 rushing yards in only fourteen games.
In his thirteen-year NFL career with Buffalo and Cleveland, DeLamielleure would appear in six Pro Bowls and play in 185 consecutive games during one stretch of his career, a testimony to his incredible durability.
Named to the Hall of Fame in 2003, DeLamielleure said, "I just enjoyed it. I like working hard, and I liked doing the little things that would make you good. I loved football. I loved playing it."
PSA has determined just ten examples of this card to be in PSA 10 condition, increasing its value substantially in high grade.
1984 Topps #393 Joe Washington
Estimated PSA 10 Value: $400
Joe Washington spent nine seasons in the NFL, playing for the Chargers, Colts, Redskins, and Falcons.
A one-time Pro Bowler and Super Bowl champion, Washington never rushed for more than 1,000 yards in a season, but he did have an above-average ability as a pass-catcher.
During the 1979 season, Washington led the entire NFL in receptions with 82.
Though he was a steady performer and effective for many years, he never did quite put up career numbers to be considered a Hall of Famer.
Washington's card is another tough one to find in PSA condition, with only ten copies on record having achieved the elusive PSA 10 grade
1984 Topps #353 Roger Craig Rookie Card
Estimated PSA 10 Value: $350
Roger Craig was the perfect running back for Bill Walsh's 49ers offense as he could both run and catch the ball out of the backfield.
During his rookie campaign in 1983, Craig combined for twelve rushing and receiving touchdowns.
The next season, he would combine for ten rushing and receiving touchdowns, and during Super Bowl XIX against the Dolphins, Craig would become the first player to score three touchdowns in a Super Bowl.
In 1985, he would accomplish another impressive feat, becoming the first player in NFL history to finish the regular season with more than 1,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards.
Craig's time in San Francisco was extremely successful, to say the least, as he would also appear in four Pro Bowls and pick up three Super Bowl rings along the way.
1984 Topps #358 Joe Montana
Estimated PSA 10 Value: $325
Montana was as prolific as ever during the 1984 season, leading the 49ers to a 14-1 record while turning in his second-highest single-season totals for touchdown passes (28) and quarterback rating (102.9).
As impressive as his regular season was, it wasn't quite as eye-popping as Marino's, however.
Montana did get the last laugh when he led San Francisco to a dominant 38-16 win over Miami during Super Bowl XIX.
The 8-time Pro Bowler, 4-time Super Bowl champion, and 2-time MVP continues to be one of the most popular football players of all-time, and hobbyists are always on the lookout for his cards.
1984 Topps #111 Howie Long Rookie Card
Estimated PSA 10 Value: $300
I mentioned that old NFL Films tape earlier that I used to watch and that Howie Long was one of the players they featured.
During that segment, Long talked about how, when he first came into the NFL, he was an unpolished player they nicknamed "Caveman."
After developing him, though, the Raiders eventually utilized him at every defensive line position, which drove opposing teams nuts.
I also remember him ripping off an opposing quarterback's helmet during that video.
That was just the kind of tenacity with which he played.
And throughout his thirteen-year career, that tenacity paid off, as he would be named to eight Pro Bowl teams and pick up a Super Bowl ring to boot.
Today, you can see him on Fox Sports as one of their NFL analysts.
1984 Topps #380 Darrell Green Rookie Card
Estimated PSA 10 Value: $275
Considered one of the most dominant corners in NFL history, Darrell Green was also known for his longevity, having spent an incredible twenty seasons in the league.
Hence, his nickname, the "Ageless Wonder."
Green possessed lightning speed and matched opposing receivers stride for stride all over the football field, helping to define what it means to be a shutdown corner.
Over his remarkable career that spanned across three decades, Green was named a Pro Bowler seven times, an All-Pro four times, and picked up two Super Bowl rings as well.
His is one of the key rookie cards to the set.
1984 Topps #303 Rickey Jackson Rookie Card
Estimated PSA 10 Value: $225
The leader of the New Orleans Saint's vaunted "Dome Patrol" linebacking corps that also featured Pat Swilling, Sam Mills, and Vaughan Johnson, Rickey Jackson became the first Saints player to be inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2010.
Even before the other three showed up to New Orleans in 1986, Jackson held his own as one of the game's best linebackers, earning three Pro Bowl selections in his first five seasons.
While he did make several playoff appearances as a Saint, Jackson wouldn't pick up a Super Bowl ring until he joined the 49ers for the 1994 season.
Jackson was tough, and so was the Dome Patrol, as many consider them to be the most formidable linebacking corps ever assembled.
They remain the only foursome of linebackers to earn Pro Bowl honors during the same season (1992).
1984 Topps #238 Tony Dorsett
Estimated PSA 10 Value: $175
Last on our list is none other than Hall of Fame running back, Tony Dorsett.
A Dallas Cowboys legend, Dorsett would rush for 12,739 yards over his 12-year career, which puts him at number ten on the all-time career rushing leaders list.
Though he was small in size, Dorsett possessed incredible field vision and instincts that allowed him to slash through the running lane and evade opposing defenders as few others could.
A four-time Pro Bowler and one-time Super Bowl champion, Dorsett was one of the greatest running backs to ever step on the gridiron, and his football cards are highly desirable as a result.
1984 Topps Football Cards In Review
This set continues to be one of the most popular among football card collectors, and it's easy to see why: it's loaded with significant rookie cards and plenty of Hall of Famers.
Elway and Marino's Rookie cards are the clear headliners, but there are also plenty of great non-rookie cards like Payton, Montana, and Dorsett to keep things even more exciting.
Within the 396-card checklist, there are also some subsets, including:
- Record Breakers (#1 - 6)
- Playoff Highlights (#7 - 9)
- League Leaders (#202 - 207)
In summary, there is so much to love about this set and it will likely remain among the most desirable football card sets in the hobby for years to come.