13 Most Valuable 1991 Topps Football Cards

Most Valuable 1991 Topps Football Cards


With a design that mimicked its baseball counterpart that year, the 1991 Topps football card set looked to capitalize on ballooning demand for football cards.

When they first hit store shelves, collectors ripped through pack after pack to find cards of their biggest NFL heroes of the day.

Unfortunately, there aren't any big-time rookie cards in this set...

Still, the nostalgic value packed within the 660-card checklist remains incredibly high for those looking for a blast from the past.

And, in this guide, I'll run through the 13 most valuable that I could find.

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 Fleer, Pacific, Pro Set, Score 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 Topps #360 Emmitt Smith

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $100

After making his rookie cardboard debut in the 1990 Topps football set, the company included Emmitt Smith in their "Super Rookies" subset the following year.

During the 1989 season while Smith was still in college, the Dallas Cowboys were among the worst rushing offenses in the league, averaging just 88.1 yards per game.

Things quickly turned around for Dallas during Smith's rookie 1990 season and by the 1991 season, they increased that output to 106.9 rushing yards per game which put them in the upper-half of the league.

Smith alone turned in 1,563 of the team's 1,711 rushing yards that season to capture the first of three-consecutive rushing titles.

There was no sophomore slump for Smith at all, and it was clear that he was going to be their go-to guy on the ground for years to come.

As a side note, the reverse of the card states that Smith played for the Florida State Seminoles instead of the Florida Gators, but since it was a mistake that was never corrected, it doesn't really impact the value.

1991 Topps #360 Emmitt Smith Super Rookie Football Card

1991 Topps #73 Joe Montana

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $100

There is no question that 1991 was an absolute nightmare for Joe Montana and San Francisco 49ers fans.

After plowing through the 1990 regular season with a 14-2 record and dismissing the Washington Redskins in the Divisional Round, the 49ers faced off against the New York Giants on January 20, 1991 in the NFC Championship Game.

The football world fully expected Montana and the 49ers to get by the Giants for a shot at becoming the first team to ever with three Super Bowls in a row.

New York had other plans, though, and played the 49ers offense extremely tough to capture a 15-13 victory in front of a shocked crowd at Candlestick Park.

At one point in the game, Leonard Marshall sacked Montana and forced him out of the game with an injury, taking the wind out of San Francisco's sails.

With Montana fully recovered after the offseason, the team regrouped with bright spirits ahead of the 1991 Regular Season.

Unfortunately, injuries would come to haunt Montana again after he injured his elbow during the pre-season, forcing him to miss the entire 1991 campaign.

1991 Topps #73 Joe Montana Football Card

1991 Topps #81 Jerry Rice

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $75

With Montana out for the season due to injury, Jerry Rice had to adjust to the left-handed throwing style of the 49ers back-up quarterback, Steve Young.

In the first game of the season, San Francisco faced off against the New York Giants and just like in the Super Bowl several months earlier, the 49ers lost a close one by a score of 14-16.

Things didn't get any easier for the team from there as they went 4-4 before Young went down with a knee injury in Week 9 against the Eagles.

Steve Bono replaced Young and played well the rest of the season until he himself fell to injury during Week 15 and was replaced by Young.

Despite the back-and-forth changes at the quarterback position, Jerry Rice was still Jerry Rice and the superstar developed a rapport with both Young and Bono.

While he finished the year with 80 catches and a lower-than-usual 1,206 receiving yards, Rice still secured a league-leading 14 receiving touchdowns and solidified himself as the best receiver in the league.

1991 Topps #81 Jerry Rice Football Card

1991 Topps #112 Dan Marino

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $60

The Miami Dolphins finished the 1991 season with an 8-8 record and missed out on the playoffs but there was still good news for Dan Marino at least.

After a three year absence from the Pro Bowl, the gunslinger earned a trip to the star-studded game for the sixth time in his career.

Marino didn't lead the league in any major statistical categories but his 3,970 passing yards and 25 touchdowns were good enough for second and fourth most in the league, respectively.

With Marino under center, the Miami offense was as efficient and productive as ever, scoring 21.4 points per game which put them in a tie for the sixth highest scoring offense in the NFL.

Unfortunately, Dolphins as a whole couldn't find a good enough balance on the year to win games consistently as the defense was particularly bad against the run and allowed 21.8 points per game.

That was kind of the theme of Marino's entire career: had the Miami Dolphins been able to muster a decent defense in some of those years, he may have earned at least one Super Bowl ring.

1991 Topps #112 Dan Marino Football Card

1991 Topps #554 John Elway

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $60

After a terrible 5-11 season in 1990, John Elway and the Denver Broncos entered the 1991 season looking to bounce back to the winning ways they'd grown accustomed to during the 1980s.

And, they did exactly that, rattling off a 12-4 record to win the AFC West in a complete turnaround versus the season before.

Elway was as good as ever, though his 13 touchdowns and 203.3 passing yards per game were among the lowest single-season outputs of his career at that point.

The Broncos didn't need to rely on Elway's arm as much that season, though, as the team combined for the eighth best rushing attack led by Pro Bowl running back Gaston Green.

With high hopes for a title shot, the Broncos narrowly defeated the Houston Oilers 26-24 in the Divisional Round but lost a close one 10-7 to the Buffalo Bills in the AFC Championship.

A Super Bowl ring continued to elude Elway but he would finally get his day (twice) later in the decade.

1991 Topps #554 John Elway Football Card

1991 Topps #415 Barry Sanders

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $60

Many football fans believe that Barry Sanders was the greatest running back of all-time and it's tough to argue with them.

Over his ten seasons in the NFL, Sanders averaged five yard per carry and his 99.8 yards per game are second only to Jim Brown's 104.3 yards per game.

And, that's considering Sanders played in 35 more games and carried the ball over 700 more times than Brown did, meaning he was arguably greater and more durable over a longer sample size.

Not to mention, his offensive lines in Detroit weren't known for being all that great, making it even more difficult for him to dominate like he did.

Debates like these are fun, but what isn't debatable is how great Sanders was during the 1991 season as he topped the 1,000 rushing yards mark for the third-straight season with 1,548 yards.

For the only time in his career, Sanders also led the NFL in rushing touchdowns with sixteen.

It's surprising he accomplished that feat only once, considering how great he was and that he notched 99 rushing touchdowns over his career. 

1991 Topps #415 Barry Sanders Football Card

1991 Topps #99 Bo Jackson

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $60

During the late 1980s and early 1990s, Bo Jackson was at the top of the sports world as a two-sport stud in both the MLB and NFL.

Despite turning in his only Pro Bowl season with the Los Angeles Raiders in 1990, it would unfortunately turn out to be his last on the gridiron.

Jackson's football career took a nasty turn for the worst during a playoff game in early 1991 against the Cincinnati Bengals when he injured his hip after a hard tackle.

He'd never play in the NFL again.

But, even though the Kansas City Royals released him a couple months later ahead of the 1991 MLB season, the Chicago White Sox quickly signed him to a three-year deal to keep his professional baseball career alive.

Jackson played very little baseball in 1991, sat out the entire 1992 season because of hip replacement surgery, but returned in 1993 to help the White Sox to the ALCS.

However, after signing to play with the California Angels in 1994, his professional sports career came to a close after he announced his retirement at the of the strike-shortened season.

1991 Topps #99 Bo Jackson Football Card

1991 Topps #582 Deion Sanders

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $50

Bo Jackson wasn't the only guy who was able to play professional football and baseball at the same time.

Deion Sanders was also playing both at the same time Jackson was and when the dust settled on his professional sports career, Sanders had spent 14 seasons in the NFL and 11 in MLB.

Beginning in 1989, Sanders played baseball for the New York Yankees and football for the Atlanta Falcons.

As if trying to play two sports at the same time wasn't difficult enough, balancing life between both cities also had its fair share of challenges.

Fortunately, things got a bit easier for Sanders when he signed to play baseball for the Atlanta Braves in 1991, giving him the chance to at least focus his life on one single city.

Sanders was going to be a football legend regardless, but the consolidation of life in Atlanta may have sped things up a bit for him as he turned in the first of eight career Pro Bowl performances during the 1991 NLF season.

1991 Topps #582 Deion Sanders Football Card

1991 Topps #16 Lawrence Taylor

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $40

Coming off his second Super Bowl Championship, Lawrence Taylor looked to keep the Giants defense intact as one of the fiercest in the league heading into the 1991 Regular Season.

They'd have to do it without coach Bill Parcells, though, as he retired after defeating the Buffalo Bills 20-19 in Super Bowl XXV.

Unfortunately, under new coach Ray Handley, things weren't quite the same in New York and the defense just wasn't the same powerhouse it had been in previous years.

And, neither was Lawrence Taylor, as the legendary linebacker failed to make the Pro Bowl after earning ten-straight trips to the postseason contest to start his career.

After a couple more seasons in the NFL, Taylor retired after the 1993 season but left a legacy as arguably the greatest defensive player in the game's history.

1991 Topps #16 Lawrence Taylor Football Card

1991 Topps #52 Thurman Thomas

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $35

During the late 1980s through the mid-1990s, Thurman Thomas was one of the most dominant running backs in the NFL.

What made him even more exceptional was the fact that he was a severe receiving threat out of the backfield.

His 1991 season illustrated this fact as good as any, as his 1,407 rushing yards and 631 receiving yards were both the second-most of his career.

And, those 2,038 combined yards from scrimmage were the tops in the league, making it the third consecutive time that Thomas paced everyone in that category.

For his efforts, Thomas decisively earned MVP honors over his teammate and quarterback, Jim Kelly.

Despite his greatness, Thomas and the Buffalo Bills teams he helped lead to four-straight Super Bowls in the early 1990s never did manage to taste championship victory.

1991 Topps #52 Thurman Thomas Football Card

1991 Topps #212 Reggie White

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $30

Reggie White was as dominant as ever during the 1991 season as the defensive standout totaled 100 tackles, 15 sacks and two forced fumbles.

He also brought in one of his three career interceptions that year, too.

White did everything he could to help the Philadelphia Eagles that year, but despite a 10-6 record, the team finished third in the NFC East behind Dallas and Washington and missed out on the playoffs.

Still, White was named an All-Pro for the sixth season in a row as he continued adding to his resume as one of the game's greatest defensive linemen of all time.

White would play one more season with the Eagles in 1992 before the Green Bay Packers signed him as a free agent ahead of the 1993 Regular Season.

In Green Bay, he wasn't quite as dominant as he was with the Eagles, but he continued to earn Pro Bowl honors season after season and, more importantly, a Super Bowl ring. 

1991 Topps #212 Reggie White Football Card

1991 Topps #368 Michael Irvin

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $30

The 1991 season officially put the incredibly-talented Michael Irvin on everyone's radar after he broke out in a big way that year.

His 93 receptions were second in the NFL only to Houston's Haywood Jeffires (100) and would be the second-most in his career after he caught 111 passes in 1995.

Meanwhile, Irvin led the league in receiving yards per game (95.2) and total receiving yards (1,523), which was more than his first three years in the league combined.

To be fair, he did tear his ACL in 1989 and only appeared in six games that season.

Still, the huge increase in receiving yards in 1991 solidified his place as one of the biggest receiving threats in the league and earned him his only All-Pro selection of his career.

Other than his rookie card, Michael Irvin's cards in other sets like this one aren't worth as much as other big names of his era, but this card is underrated, in my opinion.

The image of him and Deion Sanders, two of the greatest threats at their respective positions, provides fantastic eye appeal.

1991 Topps #368 Michael Irvin Football Card

1991 Topps #371 Troy Aikman

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $30

Things started to trend in the right direction for Troy Aikman and the Dallas Cowboys during the 1991 season despite the Hall of Fame quarterback falling to injury during a Week 12 game against the Washington Redskins.

Aikman and crew entered that game with a 6-5 record, and he was having one of his better games that season, going 13-20 with a touchdown pass before getting hurt.

Backup Steve Beuerlein replaced Aikman and helped cap off the 24-21 win against the division rivals and carried that momentum forward the rest of the season.

The Cowboys won out the final four regular season games with Beuerlein under center and upset the Chicago Bears in the Wild Card of the NFC Playoffs that year, too.

When things turned ugly for Beuerlein and the Cowboys in the NFC Divisional Game against the Detroit Lions after being down 17-6 at halftime, Aikman replaced him but was unable to lead the Cowboys to victory.

He'd have no trouble doing that the following season, however, as Aikman turned in a career year with 3,445 passing yards and 23 touchdowns before leading them to a 52-17 blowout over the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXVII.

1991 Topps #371 Troy Aikman Football Card

1991 Topps Football Cards In Review

The 1991 Topps football card set is one of the most frequently overlooked sets of its era.

Most of that is due to its lack of any major rookie cards because the 660-card checklist certainly isn't lacking in star power.

Hall of Famers like Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, Emmitt Smith, Barry Sanders, and others offered collectors plenty to enjoy then and now.

Unopened Box of 1991 Topps Football Cards

There were also a couple of interesting subsets, including:

  • Highlights (#2 - 7)
  • League Leaders (#8 - 12)
  • Team Cards (#628 - 655)

Despite all of the nostalgic firepower that lurks within this set, they need to be graded in top condition for them to have any real value.

But, that's how it goes for many sets of that era.

Overall, 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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