15 Most Valuable 1991 Fleer Football Cards

Most Valuable 1991 Fleer Football Cards


One thing that should immediately stand out about the 1991 Fleer football card set is its design.

In a word, it's underwhelming...

Player images are simply superimposed over flat backgrounds that seem kind of stale.

Meanwhile, other manufacturers in the hobby, namely Upper Deck, were turning things up a notch with colorful images and innovative designs.

Fleer may not have followed suit with its flagship set in 1991, as you can see, but they did try and adjust to market demands with their 1991 Ultra set that was of higher quality.

Though the design of this set may not win any awards, there are still plenty of stars and Hall of Famers inside the 432-card checklist to keep collectors occupied.

And in this guide, we'll take a look at the 15 most valuable in the checklist.

Let's jump right in!

Ross Uitts

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Let's be clear: most of the cards from this set do not have any value these days.

Like the 1991 Pro Set, Pacific, Score, Topps and Upper Deck sets, large print runs saturated the market with these cards, driving down their values.

So, for the cards on this list to be worth much, they'll have to be graded by PSA to be in perfect, gem mint condition.

That means the card needs to be flawless.

Now that we got that out of the way, let's take a look at the list:

1991 Fleer #360 Joe Montana

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $75

Not that anyone likely keeps track of these kinds of things, but the 1991 preseason had to be the worst in San Francisco 49ers franchise history.

Coming off back-to-back MVP campaigns, Joe Montana looked primed to try and make it three in a row.

The offense returned 9 of 11 starters, including his top three passing options in Jerry Rice, John Taylor and Brent Jones.

And then, Montana injured his throwing elbow while throwing a 40-yard post pattern on August 13th, 1991.

Montana was first instructed to rest and take inflammatory shots as the 49ers' medical staff didn't believe the injury was significant enough to warrant any more precautionary steps.

However, he quickly began to fill even more severe pain in his elbow as he warmed up for the second-to-last preseason game against the San Diego Chargers.

Additional tests soon brought Montana and the team's biggest fears to light: he would need surgery and have to miss the entire season.

Montana would not return to action for San Francisco until the final game of the 1992 NFL season in what turned out to be his last in red and gold.

During the offseason, the team traded Montana to Kansas City to finish his career, signing a three-year, $10 million deal with the Chiefs.

1991 Fleer #360 Joe Montana Football Card

1991 Fleer #363 Jerry Rice

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $65

In 1991, the San Francisco 49ers saw their eight-season streak of playoff appearances snapped.

Thanks to two losses by a combined eight points to the Atlanta Falcons during the regular season, the 10-6 Falcons got the nod for the final NFC postseason spot over the 10-6 49ers.

It was a rough finish to the year by the Bay, to be sure.

Regardless, the San Francisco faithful were still treated to another fantastic year by the future GOAT.

No Joe Montana? No problem for the game's top wideout.

While legendary wide receiver Jerry Rice barely missed out on consensus First-Team All-Pro honors for the first time in a half-decade, he remained the most electrifying receiving threat in the NFL in 1991.

Rice finished the campaign with 80 catches for 1,206 yards and an NFL-best 14 receiving touchdowns.

His 75.6 yards per game average was the lowest since his rookie season in 1985.

However, his sixth-straight 1,000-yard receiving season was far from a down year by any measurable standard.

From 1985-98, 1991 was the only season that didn't precede a 49ers playoff appearance, so it was admittedly strange to witness a postseason without Rice running routes and snagging passes.

1991 Fleer #363 Jerry Rice Football Card

1991 Fleer #237 Emmitt Smith

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $50

As the 17th pick of the 1990 NFL Draft, University of Florida product Emmitt Smith entered his first training camp with the Dallas Cowboys with heightened expectations.

The franchise hadn't made the playoffs since 1985 and finished 1989 with an abysmal 1-15 record.

Two years later, Smith was running roughshod over the league and the Cowboys were readying themselves for their perch as one of the game's most infamous and successful dynasties.

Smith emerged as the league's most productive running back in 1991, rushing for 1,563 yards and winning his first of four rushing titles in five years.

He also finished the year as the NFL's leader in carries (365) and skill-position touches (414), adding 49 receptions for 258 yards and a score.

The team's 11 wins matched the franchise's output from the previous three seasons combined and earned a Wild Card berth.

In the NFC Wild Card Game, Smith carried the ball 26 times for 105 yards and a touchdown in a nail-biting 17-13 road win over the Chicago Bears.

In the NFC Divisional Round, Smith posted 15 carries for 80 yards and added a two-yard reception.

However, four Dallas turnovers sealed their fate in a dispiriting 38-6 road loss.

Crashlanding aside, Smith was one of many reasons for major optimism going forward in North Texas. 

1991 Fleer #237 Emmitt Smith Football Card

1991 Fleer #247 Barry Sanders

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $50

During the 1991 regular season, Barry Sanders carried a one-dimensional Lions offense while posting 342 carries for 1,548 yards and a league-best 16 rushing touchdowns.

His 103.2 rushing yards per game were tops in the league, as he wove his way through traffic to lead the 12-4 Lions to their first division title and playoff appearance since 1983.

And to top things off, he caught 41 passes for 307 yards and a score.

Sanders’ on-field brilliance during the regular season earned him First-Team All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors for the third-straight year to open his career.

But, it’s what happened following the season that Lions fans cherish most to this day.

In the team’s NFC Divisional Round matchup at home against the Dallas Cowboys, Sanders posted nearly 100 yards from scrimmage as a dual-threat weapon for the NFC Central champions.

He rushed 12 times for 69 yards and a touchdown and caught five passes for 30 yards while frequently acting as a decoy in play action.

The Lions romped, scoring 24 unanswered points to win 38-6.

In the three decades since their runaway victory in Motown, the Lions are 0-9 in postseason contests.

That includes a deflating 41-10 NFC Championship Game loss to the Washington Redskins the very next week.

1991 Fleer #247 Barry Sanders Football Card

1991 Fleer #110 Bo Jackson

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $50

Sadly, Bo Jackson would not suit up for the Los Angeles Raiders for a fifth season in 1991.

In January earlier that year, Jackson badly injured his hip during a playoff game against the Cincinnati Bengals that ultimately ended his NFL career forever.

He did manage to salvage his MLB career as he would spend parts of two seasons with the Chicago White Sox in 1991 and 1993 and one with the California Angels in 1994 before retiring from professional sports for good.

During the late 1980s and 1990s, Bo Jackson was one of the biggest names in all of sports as his two-sport fame as an All-Star with the Kansas City Royals and Pro Bowler for the Raiders took the world by storm.

Those who grew up as kids watching him dominate on both fields have now formed an extensive collector base that keeps his cards in high demand.

1991 Fleer #110 Bo Jackson Football Card

1991 Fleer #45 John Elway

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $30

While the Canton-bound QB ultimately changed his narrative with some late-career Super Bowl magic, Elway's reputation entering the 1991 NFL season was that of a big-game bust.

Elway was predictably potent during the regular season, leading the Broncos to a 12-4 record and an AFC West title by completing 53.7% of his passes for 3,253 yards, 13 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions.

Denver entered the 1991 NFL Playoffs with a puncher's chance at a Super Bowl run thanks to Elway and the league's third-best scoring defense.

Five years after he engineered a 98-yard touchdown drive against a stunned Cleveland Browns squad late in the 1986 AFC Championship Game, Elway put together a worthy sequel of "The Drive."

Down 24-23 late in the team's AFC Divisional Round matchup with the Houston Oilers, he led Denver from its 2-yard line to Houston's 11-yard line with a dizzying series of clutch throws.

Kicker David Treadwell split the uprights with 16 seconds left, sending the Broncos to the AFC Championship Game.

Ecstasy turned to frustration the following week when Elway was stifled on the road in Buffalo, completing just 11 of 21 passes for 121 yards and an interception.

The Bills' defense sacked him three times and completely derailed Denver's offensive attack, earning a Super Bowl berth with a gritty 10-7 victory.

1991 Fleer #45 John Elway Football Card

1991 Fleer #124 Dan Marino

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $30

The 1991 NFL season was more of the same for Miami Dolphins starting quarterback Dan Marino.

The prolific future Hall of Fame quarterback was a one-man wrecking crew, dicing up opposing defenses with jaw-dropping aerial assaults week in and week out.

He started all sixteen games for the Dolphins, completing 57.9% of his passes for 3,970 yards, 25 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions.

And despite never being mistaken for being fleet of foot, the 30-year-old quarterback added 32 yards on the ground and a score.

With Marino at the helm, Miami finished third in the NFL in passing, sixth in points scored, and seventh in total offense.

With a passable effort by the defense, the Dolphins could have been a playoff team.

But, it didn't happen that way, as opposing rushing attacks gashed Miami's front seven more often than not.

The Dolphins finished the year second-to-last in total rushing defense and as a bottom-five squad in points allowed (24th out of 28) and total defense (25th).

Miami finished the year 8-8 and out of the playoffs for the fourth time in five seasons.

1991 Fleer #124 Dan Marino Football Card

1991 Fleer #228 Troy Aikman

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $25

Things started to fall in place for Troy Aikman during his third season in the NFL as he, Emmitt Smith, and Michael Irvin all began to forge a high-powered Cowboys offense that would dominate for years to come.

Aikman led the Cowboys to a 6-5 record with 2,754 passing yards, 11 touchdowns, and a much-improved 65.3% completion percentage through the first eleven games of the season.

Unfortunately, during a road game in Week 12 against the division rival Washington Redskins, Aikman had to leave the game due to injury.

Steve Beurelein came off the bench to help Dallas finish a 24-21 victory that sparked a streak of victories that saw the team win out the rest of the season to finish second in the NFC East at 11-5.

After Beurlein and the Cowboys upset the #4 seed Chicago Bears on the road in the Wild Card, coach Jimmy Johnson pulled him in favor of Aikman after trailing the Detroit Lions 17-6 at halftime in the Divisional Round.

Unfortunately, Aikman didn't fare any better as the Lions finished off the Cowboys in a 38-6 rout.

Dallas fans didn't have to wait long to taste victory, as Aikman led "America's Team" to a 52-17 beat down over the Buffalo Bills the following year in Super Bowl XXVII.

1991 Fleer #228 Troy Aikman Football Card

1991 Fleer #319 Lawrence Taylor

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $25

Legendary linebacker Lawrence Taylor's incredible career finally began to decline during the 1991 season.

Fresh off his second Super Bowl triumph in five years and ten-straight Pro Bowl seasons to start his career, everything changed for Taylor and the New York Giants.

Ahead of the 1991 season, Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells decided two Super Bowls and eight seasons as the Giants' head coach was enough, and he retired (for the first time).

Taylor was extremely close with Parcells, so his departure affected him and, in turn, the rest of the Giants' dominant defense as well.

Fatigue and injuries from a decade's worth of heavy workload weighed on Taylor, too.

Under new head coach Ray Handley, Taylor played in fourteen games, recovered two fumbles and finished with seven sacks as the team stumbled to an 8-8 record and missed out on the playoffs.

There would be no eleventh trip to the Pro Bowl for Taylor and he would ultimately hang it up for good after a 44-3 playoff loss to the 49ers on January 15, 1994.

1991 Fleer #319 Lawrence Taylor Football Card

1991 Fleer #336 Reggie White

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $25

If you were to make the argument that Reggie White was the greatest defensive lineman in NFL history, few would argue against you.

Maybe no one would argue against you.

Over his brilliant fifteen-year career, White dominated offensive lines to earn two Defensive Player of the Year Awards, be named an All-Pro eight times, go to the Pro Bowl thirteen times, and win one Super Bowl title.

The "Minister of Defense" used all of the tools and techniques at his disposal from the swim move, bull rush, and forearm shiver to beat countless double-team efforts.

He was again dominant during the 1991 season as he racked up another fifteen sacks, forced two fumbles, recovered three fumbles, and even hauled in one of his three career interceptions in his sixth-straight Pro Bowl campaign.

White also set the single-season record for most passes defended by a defensive lineman with thirteen, a record since broken by J.J. Watt.

However, despite White's menacing efforts on defense, the Philadelphia Eagles finished third in the NFC East with a 10-6 record and out of the playoffs.

1991 Fleer #336 Reggie White Football Card

1991 Fleer #367 Steve Young

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $25

Though it came at the expense of Joe Montana missing the entire 1991 season due to an elbow injury, Steve Young finally got his chance to step up as the starter for the San Francisco 49ers.

After settling into his new role, Young led the 49ers to a 4-4 record through the first eight weeks of the season.

Unfortunately, Young's world came crashing down during a Week 9 game on the road against the Atlanta Falcons when a knee injury forced him out of the game.

Backup Steve Bono filled in admirably for Young and played well enough that head coach George Seifert stuck with him as the starter even after Young recovered.

Then, things changed again during Week 15 when Young had to replace an injured Steve Bono late in the game against the Chiefs.

Young ended the season with an exclamation point as he decimated the Chicago Bears defense at home in a Week 16 game on Monday Night and solidified himself as a dual-threat.

In front of the home crowd at Candlestick, Young passed for 338 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for 63 yards and another touchdown.

Young built off that momentum and parlayed it into an MVP-winning campaign the following season.

1991 Fleer #367 Steve Young Football Card

1991 Fleer #14 Thurman Thomas

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $25

Heading into the 1991 NFL season, Thurman Thomas had already built a reputation as a multidimensional threat who could beat you both on the ground and through the air.

In back-to-back seasons in 1989 and 1990, Thomas led the NFL in yards from scrimmage with 1,913 and 1,829 total yards, respectively.

But, Thomas decided he wasn't finished and proceeded to have a career year in 1991.

With the Buffalo Bills' high-powered offense firing on all cylinders, Thomas became the eleventh player (at the time) to eclipse the 2,000 all-purpose yards mark.

The versatile back rushed 288 times for 1,407 yards and seven touchdowns while reeling in 62 passes for 631 yards and five scores.

His 2,038 all-purpose yards made it the third year in a row that he would lead the NFL.

Amazingly, he'd do it again in 1992 for the fourth straight year by racking up 2,113 yards from scrimmage.

Thomas was one of the biggest nightmares for opposing defenses from the late 80s through the mid-90s but the 1991 season was when he took home both MVP and Offensive Player of the Year honors.

1991 Fleer #14 Thurman Thomas Football Card

1991 Fleer #408 Joe Montana League Leaders

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $25

The "League Leaders" subset featured multiple players who stood out in various offensive categories during the 1990 season.

Montana won his second-straight MVP award for his performance during the 1990 season but, unfortunately, the 49ers were denied a crack at the Super Bowl when the New York Giants upset them 15-13 in the NFC Championship Game.

The reverse side provides an excellent write-up of Montana's accomplishments and legacy as one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time.

1991 Fleer #408 Joe Montana Error 4th on Yardage List Football Card
1991 Fleer #408 Joe Montana League Leaders Football Card Reverse Side

1991 Fleer #415 Barry Sanders League Leaders

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $25

During the 1990 NFL season, Barry Sanders led all of football with 1,304 rushing yards and 16 total touchdowns, while his 1,784 yards from scrimmage were tops in the NFC.

As a duel-threat, Sanders was a nightmare for opposing defenses to contain but most will remember his incredible zig-zag runs that left would-be defenders completely puzzled.

Fleer did an excellent job highlighting Sanders' overall capabilities and pointed out a couple of single-game achievements as well.

1991 Fleer #415 Barry Sanders League Leaders Football Card
1991 Fleer #415 Barry Sanders League Leaders Football Card Reverse Side

1991 Fleer #418 Emmitt Smith League Leaders

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $25

The reverse side of Emmitt Smith's "League Leaders" card nicely covers the lofty expectations that not only the NFL had for the prolific runner but for those he placed upon himself as well.

After picking up the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors for his efforts during the 1990 season, Smith indeed went on to live up to the expectations that everyone had.

By the time he retired after the 2004 season, Smith had become the all-time rushing leader with 18,355 yards to go along with eight Pro Bowl selections, one MVP award and three Super Bowl rings.

1991 Fleer #418 Emmitt Smith League Leaders Football Card
1991 Fleer #418 Emmitt Smith League Leaders Football Card Reverse Side

1991 Fleer Football Cards In Review

The 1991 Fleer football card set contains several stars and Hall of Famers but doesn't pack much rookie card power.

The checklist isn't overwhelming at just 432 cards which made putting together a complete set less of a challenge than other sets of the era.

Unopened Box of 1991 Fleer Football Cards

There were also a couple of interesting subsets, including:

  • Hitters (#396 - 407)
  • League Leaders (#408 - 419)

While I do think there is a lot of great nostalgia within the set, it seems to get overlooked by others of that era.

The basic design probably has a lot to do with that.

Still, this set offers a lot of great memories of some of the biggest legends in the game's history that can be had relatively cheaply.

Ross Uitts

Ross is the founder of Old Sports Cards and has been collecting sports cards for over 30 years. He also loves to write about the hobby and has written for Beckett, Topps, SABR and of course, this website. Need help buying or selling cards or have a general question about the hobby? Contact him at [email protected]

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