15 Most Valuable 1993 Upper Deck Football Cards

Most Valuable 1993 Upper Deck Football Cards


When the 1993 Upper Deck football card set made its debut on store shelves, the hobby bubble was bursting.

For that reason, many dismiss this set as yet another mass-produced "junk" set of that era...

While production numbers indeed drove down the values over the long term, several cards within the checklist remind us of big moments in NFL history that season.

Future Hall of Famers Jerome Bettis, Willie Roaf, and a promising Drew Bledsoe were just starting their careers.

NFL legends Joe Montana and Reggie White were getting fresh starts with a new team.

And Emmitt Smith mesmerized fans with a regular season and Super Bowl MVP performance of the ages.

When you look through this checklist, don't be surprised if the nostalgia hits you.

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

Let's jump right in!

Ross Uitts

Ross Uitts - Owner

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

Like the 1993 Fleer, Pro Set, Score and Topps 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:

1993 Upper Deck #20 Jerome Bettis Rookie Card

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $75

The Los Angeles Rams were a mess on the field in 1993.

But, former Notre Dame running back Jerome Bettis flourished in head coach Chuck Knox's run-first offense, bruising his way to a full-time starting role by the team's sixth game.

He ran with the opportunity all the way to the NFL's Offensive Rookie of the Year award.

Nicknamed "The Battering Ram" for his punishing downhill rushing style, Bettis finished second in the NFL with 1,429 rushing yards.

While every other facet of the five-win Rams sputtered, Bettis keyed the league's fifth-ranked rushing attack.

He led the league in rushes of ten or more yards (38), rushes for a first down (79), and tied for the NFL lead with seven games of 100 rushing yards or more.

A First-Team All-Pro out of the gates, Bettis appeared poised to take over as the face of the franchise.

It wasn't to be, thanks to one of the most baffling trades in NFL history just over a year later that sent the Hall of Famer to the Pittsburgh Steelers for a package of future draft picks.

The deal worked out well for Pittsburgh as Bettis became a fan favorite and helped lead them to a Super Bowl in 2005, his last year in the NFL.

1993 Upper Deck #20 Jerome Bettis Rookie Card

1993 Upper Deck #11 Drew Bledsoe Rookie Card

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $40

After missing the playoffs for six straight seasons, the New England Patriots drafted Drew Bledsoe out of Washington State with the first overall pick of the 1993 NFL Draft.

And Bledsoe wasn't the only fresh face in town that season.

After a two-year hiatus from the NFL, legendary head coach Bill Parcells joined the Patriots organization looking to help right the ship for the beleaguered franchise.

From Week 1, Parcells stuck with Bledsoe as his quarterback, even though things didn't go smoothly for the rookie until the final stretch of the season.

Bledsoe was less than impressive through the first five games, and the Patriots stood at 1-4.

After sitting out the next three games (all Patriots losses), he rejoined the team under center in Week 9 against Buffalo, only to lead them to four more losses.

And then, something clicked.

Bledsoe settled in and led the team to four consecutive wins to finish the year at 5-11, including a stellar performance against Miami (329 yards and four touchdowns) to close the year.

Things didn't start the way Bledsoe would have liked during his rookie season, but they couldn't have ended any better.

He would continue that momentum into the 1994 season, leading the Patriots to a 10-6 record and their first playoff appearance since 1986.

1993 Upper Deck #11 Drew Bledsoe Rookie Card

1993 Upper Deck #460 Joe Montana

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $40

When Joe Montana missed the entire 1991 season and nearly all of the 1992 season due to injury, many wondered if the San Francisco 49ers could continue their dominance from the 1980s.

In his absence, backup Steve Young answered the call and exceeded expectations, especially in 1992 when he won the MVP and NFL Offensive Player of the Year awards.

Faced with one of the biggest quarterback dilemmas in NFL history, the 49ers traded Montana to the Kansas City Chiefs ahead of the 1993 season, sending shockwaves through the NFL.

After leading the 49ers to four Super Bowl titles, it was strange to see Montana donning a different jersey.

But if there were any doubts about whether or not he could still play at a high level, Montana quickly put them to rest.

That season, Montana completed 60.7% of his 298 passes for 2,144 yards and 13 touchdowns to lead the Chiefs to an 11-5 record and a playoff berth.

In the playoffs, Montana delivered two vintage come-from-behind wins against the Steelers and Oilers in the first two rounds of the playoffs.

However, in the AFC Championship Game against the Buffalo Bills, his hopes of a fifth ring ended when he suffered a concussion in the third quarter as the Chiefs ultimately fell 30-13.

1993 Upper Deck #460 Joe Montana Football Card

1993 Upper Deck #241 Jerry Rice

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $35

After seven seasons as Joe Montana's primary target that resulted in six Pro Bowls and two Super Bowl rings for the star wideout, Jerry Rice had to adjust to Steve Young in 1992.

Montana went down with an injury before the season and the franchise looked to Young to replace their star leader.

Young was a very different quarterback than Montana, but the most significant adjustment Rice had to make was to account for Young's left-handed throwing style.

Rice adjusted wonderfully, almost as if there were no quarterback change at all, and delivered a First-Team All-Pro performance for the 14-2 NFC West champs.

Somehow, his 1993 campaign was even better.

Rice led the league with 1,503 receiving yards and 15 receiving touchdowns to earn another First-Team All-Pro selection and a third-place finish in the MVP vote.

There were times when opposing secondaries looked utterly lost trying to find ways to limit his pass-catching ability.

Unfortunately, all hopes for a third Super Bowl ring came to a crash as the 49ers fell to the Dallas Cowboys in a 21-38 blowout in the NFC Conference Championship game.

1993 Upper Deck #241 Jerry Rice Football Card

1993 Upper Deck #454 Barry Sanders

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $35

After spraining his knee during a Thanksgiving Day loss to the Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions running back Barry Sanders was forced to heal and hope for a playoff opportunity.

Sanders was on pace for over 1,600 rushing yards and nearly 2,000 yards from scrimmage when he went down.

And while he scored only three touchdowns in 1993, he was the engine that made Detroit’s offense hum.

Without him, the Lions scrambled to keep their division title hopes alive.

And against the odds, they did, beating the Bears and Packers in the campaign’s final two weeks to win the NFC Central at 10-6.

A week after their 30-20 home triumph over Green Bay to close the regular season, the Lions met the Packers in a rematch in the NFC Wild Card Round.

They had home-field advantage, momentum, and a returning Barry Sanders.

Sanders went off, rushing for a playoff career-high 169 yards on 27 carries.

It was for naught, though, as the Packers shocked the Lions 28-24 on a last-minute 40-yard strike from Brett Favre to Sterling Sharpe.

It was an incendiary postseason performance by Sanders, followed by yet another January heartbreak in Motown.

1993 Upper Deck #454 Barry Sanders Football Card

1993 Upper Deck #6 Willie Roaf Rookie Card

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $30

After a standout collegiate career for the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, Willie Roaf began his pro career when the New Orleans Saints drafted him eighth overall in the 1993 NFL Draft.

The Saints used him at right tackle during his rookie season, but his career and legacy changed when they moved him to left tackle the following season.

From 1994-2000, Roaf earned Pro Bowl honors seven years in a row as he was nearly impenetrable in pass-blocking situations and was devastating as a run blocker.

His luck would change during the 2001 season when he suffered a season-ending injury, bringing his streak of Pro Bowl appearances to a halt.

The following season, though, he got right back on track when the Saints traded him to the Kansas City Chiefs.

From 2002 to 2005, his final season in the NFL, Roaf picked up right where he had left off and earned another four trips to the Pro Bowl.

During his time in Kansas City, the Chiefs relied heavily on Roaf's talents as a run blocker, only to see running backs Priest Holmes and Larry Johnson put up ridiculous numbers.

Anytime the topic of the greatest left tackles of all time comes up for discussion, Willie Roaf's name is always in the mix.

1993 Upper Deck #6 Willie Roaf Rookie Card

1993 Upper Deck #359 Emmitt Smith

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $30

Emmitt Smith's 1993 campaign was one of his finest in a career filled with brilliant performances.

Coming off a 1992 season that saw him lead the NFL in rushing (1,713), rushing touchdowns (18) and touches (432), it was clear that Dallas had found a workhorse in the fourth-year star.

It was also clear they would have to pay him.

Yet, Smith missed the entire Cowboy's training camp and their first two regular season games (both losses) in 1993 as the organization remained on the fence about a new contract.

But those two losses got them off the fence in a hurry and Dallas quickly made Smith the highest-paid running back in the NFL.

And, boy, did they get their money's worth.

Smith got right back to work, zigging and zagging through opposing defenses on his way to an NFL-best 1,486 rushing yards and an admirable nine rushing touchdowns.

The Hall of Famer also let his value in the passing game shine as he set a career-high in receiving yards with 414 through the air.

As a dual threat, Smith led the first of two times in his career with 1,900 yards from scrimmage.

In the end, he capped off his incredible season by winning both the regular season MVP and Super Bowl MVP awards.

1993 Upper Deck #359 Emmitt Smith Football Card

1993 Upper Deck #139 Dan Marino

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $25

During the 1992 NFL season, everything almost fell into place for Marino and the Dolphins.

Behind Marino's league-leading 330 completions, 554 attempts and 4,116 passing yards, the Dolphins relied on an all-out aerial assault to win the AFC East at 11-5.

Unfortunately, the division-rival Buffalo Bills crushed Phins fans' championship hopes when they handed Miami a convincing 29-10 in front of the home crowd at Joe Robbie Stadium.

With the heartbreak behind them, Marino and the Dolphins entered the 1993 season as one of the favorites to make it to the Super Bowl.

Things got off to a fantastic start for Miami as Marino picked up right where he left off, torching opposing defenses through the air to a 3-1 record through the first four weeks.

And then, heartbreak struck again.

During their Week 5 road trip to Cleveland, Marino injured his Achilles tendon and wouldn't set foot on the field the rest of the year.

Backup Scott Mitchell played admirably in Marino's absence, but Miami would end the season at 10-6 and second in the AFC East.

A season that began with potential Super Bowl hopes ended in no playoffs at all.

1993 Upper Deck #139 Dan Marino Football Card

1993 Upper Deck #140 Troy Aikman

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $25

Troy Aikman had a historic season in 1993, ultimately leading the Dallas Cowboys to a Super Bowl XXVIII victory over the Buffalo Bills.

During the regular season, Aikman completed 69.1% of his passes for 3,100 yards and 15 touchdowns to earn his third-straight trip to the Pro Bowl.

Aikman's accuracy and leadership were on display all season long, as he picked apart defenses and made good decisions under pressure.

He didn't try to do too much, and he let his playmakers make plays, cementing his legacy as a field general.

Aikman continued to play at a high level in the playoffs, leading the Cowboys to victories over the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers.

However, during the Super Bowl, Aikman was underwhelming, completing 19 of 27 attempts for 207 yards and an interception.

It wasn't the kind of performance he would have liked, but the Cowboys rode Emmitt Smith's coattails to an easy 30-13 victory over the Buffalo Bills.

What mattered to Aikman most was that the Dallas Cowboys were Super Bowl champs for the second year in a row.

1993 Upper Deck #140 Troy Aikman Football Card

1993 Upper Deck #228 Deion Sanders

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $25

Bo Jackson opened the door.

Deion Sanders strutted through it, Prime Time style.

A true dual sensation in baseball and football, Sanders' 1993 was one of his most iconic two-sport performances.

He hit .276 and stole 19 bases for the NL West champion Atlanta Braves.

That was just the appetizer.

As the main course, Sanders reinforced his legacy as the game's best defensive back, picking off seven passes, forcing a fumble, and generally shutting down other teams' best receivers in 11 games (10 starts) with the Atlanta Falcons.

The Falcons finished just 6-10, but Sanders was enough to make them a marquee attraction.

A truly transcendent cornerback and exceptional MLB talent rolled up into one unapologetic package, Sanders earned First-Team All-Pro honors for the first time in 1993 and a third-place finish in the league's Defensive Player of the Year balloting.

And incredibly enough, his star would only brighten as he hit the NFL's free-agent market in the offseason.

1993 Upper Deck #228 Deion Sanders Football Card

1993 Upper Deck #357 John Elway

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $25

The 1993 Denver Broncos used their fifth-ranked offense to squeak into an AFC Wild Card spot at 9-7.

And oftentimes, it felt like John Elway was the only thread tying their playoff hopes together.

The star QB put together arguably his finest individual regular season, capturing his only league passing title with a career-best 4,030 yards through the air.

He also led the NFL in completions (348) and passing attempts (551), both career highs.

When nothing else clicked for Denver, Elway got to work.

He papered over the team's inconsistencies, willing the Broncos to their second playoff berth in three years.

The Second-Team All-Pro and five-time Pro Bowler couldn't push them any further, though.

Despite throwing for 302 yards, three touchdowns, and a pick in the team's Wild Card showdown with the division-rival Los Angeles Raiders, the Silver and Black ran away with an emphatic 42-24 win.

It was a fitting end to an unbalanced season for the Broncos.

And it was yet another playoff disappointment for Elway en route to his late-career redemption arc.

1993 Upper Deck #357 John Elway Football Card

1993 Upper Deck #358 Steve Young

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $25

You’d be hard-pressed to find a better three-season stretch by a quarterback in NFL history than Steve Young’s run from 1992-94.

And while 1993 was the only year of three that he did not win the league’s MVP, his runner-up performance was on par with his award-winning campaigns, if not better.

Also the runner-up for the NFL’s Offensive Player of the Year award, the left-handed legend was the straw that stirred the drink for the league’s top-ranked offense.

He eclipsed 4,000 yards passing for the first time (4,023), completed a ridiculous 68% of his throws, and rushed for 407 yards and two scores.

He also led the league in multiple passing categories, including touchdowns (29), yards per attempt (8.7), and quarterback rating (101.5).

And his efficient, virtuoso performance in the team’s 44-3 Divisional Round blowout of the Giants felt like the first step towards a deep playoff run.

Unluckily enough, San Francisco ran into a team of destiny in the next round.

Young did what he could, throwing for 285 yards, rushing for 38, and accounting for two touchdowns.

But, the Cowboys were just too much, dispatching the 49ers in the NFC title game for the second-straight year, 38-21.

1993 Upper Deck #358 Steve Young Football Card

1993 Upper Deck #360 Brett Favre

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $25

Favre made his rookie card debut in the 1992 Upper Deck set, but this card is much more visually appealing.

Rather than riding the bench, Favre is shown launching one of his trademark rocket passes downfield.

During Favre's first year in Green Bay in 1992, he proved wrong any doubters he had after a controversial rookie season with the Atlanta Falcons in 1991.

In his sophomore campaign, Favre lit up opposing defenses to the tune of 3,227 passing yards, 18 touchdowns on 471 attempts to earn his first Pro Bowl selection.

His 13 interceptions were probably on the high side, but fans quickly got over it when he led them to a 9-7 record after an abysmal 4-12 finish the year before.

The following season in 1993, Favre continued his errant ways, leading the league with 24 interceptions.

But the Packers faithful again had no hard feelings, considering that he led them to a 9-7 record and their first playoff appearance since 1982.

But after defeating the Detroit Lions in the opening round, Favre's inaccuracies got the best of him during the Divisional Round loss to the Dallas Cowboys.

Though he threw for 331 yards and two touchdowns, the Cowboys also picked off two of his throws in their 27-17 victory.

1993 Upper Deck #360 Brett Favre Football Card

1993 Upper Deck #117 Lawrence Taylor

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $20

For all LT did for the New York Giants, it was only fitting that he ended things on his terms in 1993.

A ruptured Achilles tendon cut his season short in 1992, but the three-time Defensive Player of the Year was determined not to finish his career on an injury-soured note.

Taylor put in hard work to rehab the injury and returned to play all sixteen regular-season games (15 starts) in 1993.

And while he was far from his peak as the greatest linebacker of his generation, his six sacks and mere presence were invaluable to New York during a resurgent season.

Following back-to-back years of playoff misses, the Giants finished 11-5 to earn a Wild Card berth.

And things started promisingly with a 17-10 Wild Card Round win over the Minnesota Vikings.

However, it all went south one week later in an embarrassing 44-3 loss to San Francisco in the Divisional Round.

It was a humbling experience.

And it was also the end for one of the greatest defensive players of all time.

"I've done everything I can do," LT said after the game, fighting through tears. "I've done things that other people haven't been able to do in this game before. After 13 years, it's time for me to go."

1993 Upper Deck #117 Lawrence Taylor Football Card

1993 Upper Deck #490 Reggie White

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $20

After eight phenomenal seasons for the Philadelphia Eagles as one of the top defensive linemen in the NFL, Reggie White entered free agency following the 1992 season.

During his rookie season in 1985, White finished second in the Defensive Rookie of the Year vote.

And over the next seven years in Philly, White dominated the trenches on his way to six First-Team All-Pro and seven Pro Bowl selections.

White was arguably at his best in 1987 when he led the NFL with an eye-popping 21 sacks to earn Defensive Player of the Year honors.

Needless to say, Reggie was a hot commodity, with many teams drooling at the chance to sign him ahead of the 1993 season.

Ultimately, White signed a four-year deal with the Green Bay Packers, with whom he would shine over the next six seasons and win a Super Bowl.

White did not disappoint during his Green Bay debut in 1993 as he forced three fumbles, recovered two fumbles, and had 79 combined tackles and 13 sacks.

To no one's surprise, he earned yet another trip to the Pro Bowl and finished second in Defensive Player of the Year voting.

1993 Upper Deck #490 Reggie White Football Card

1993 Upper Deck Football Cards In Review

As you can see, there are plenty of great rookie cards and big-name stars to be found within the 530-card checklist.

The cards hit the mark from a design standpoint, too, as the quality photography and overall design make this one of the better-looking football sets of their era.

While it would've been nice to see rookie cards of John Lynch and Michael Strahan, Upper Deck hit the mark with rookie cards of Jerome Bettis, Willie Roaf and Drew Bledsoe.

Had Bledsoe's career not hit some serious hiccups, he may have ended up in the Hall of Fame with those guys.

Unopened Box of 1993 Upper Deck Football Cards

There were also some decent subsets in the checklist, including:

  • Star Rookies (#1 - 29)
  • All-Rookies (#30 - 55)
  • Hitmen (#56 - 62)
  • Team Checklists (#63 - 90)
  • Season Leaders (#421 - 431)
  • Berman's Best (#432 - 442)

Given that these cards debuted during a time when the hobby bubble was bursting, it's easy to overlook this set.

Yet, overall, when you give it a second look, it's easy to see that there is plenty to enjoy.

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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