13 Most Valuable 1998 Topps Football Cards

Most Valuable 1998 Topps Football Cards


If you've been around this hobby for a while, one thing should instantly come to mind when you think of the 1998 Topps football card set:

the solid rookie card class.

Well, that and the gold border design that make these cards instantly recognizable.

But back to the rookie cards, this set has some big-time first-year cards inside the 360-card checklist.

The Peyton Manning rookie stands head and shoulders above the rest.

But fellow Hall of Famers Randy Moss and Charles Woodson also made their cardboard debuts in this set.

And so did several other solid stars that didn't quite pan out as Hall of Famers.

To put it simply, there are plenty of great cards in this set.

And in this guide, we'll take a look at the 13 most valuable.

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 1998 Fleer, 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:

1998 Topps #360 Peyton Manning Rookie Card

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $325

The Indianapolis Colts went 3-13 in 1997, but it turned out to be one of the best things that happened to them in franchise history.

Indy then proceeded to draft Tennessee QB and generational talent Peyton Manning with the first pick of the 1998 NFL Draft.

You can't do much better than that.

(Although, they still finished 3-13 again in 1998.)

Even with fellow Canton inductee Marshall Faulk in the backfield, Manning's rookie jitters were a problem.

Defenses keyed in on Faulk, daring the rookie to throw over the middle.

He took the bait, alternating touchdowns and interceptions with frustrating frequency.

As the season went on, Manning's gifts were more apparent.

He still struggled to select the correct read.

However, he also could take over a game at a moment's notice.

The 22-year-old signal-caller set new NFL rookie records for touchdown passes (26) and consecutive games with a passing TD (13).

Manning also set franchise records for passing yards (3,739) and completions (326).

On the other hand, he threw an NFL-worst 28 interceptions and struggled in clutch time.

"To accomplish what Peyton accomplished this year to me was remarkable," head coach Jim Mora said. "He exceeded my expectations. He is everything and more than I thought he would be when we drafted him."

1998 Topps #360 Peyton Manning Rookie Card

1998 Topps #352 Randy Moss Rookie Card

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $110

After losing his scholarships at Notre Dame and Florida State for misconduct, wide receiver Randy Moss finished his college career at Marshall University.

Seeing how he ended his senior season as a Heisman finalist, things turned out just fine for the controversial wide receiver.

Still, the NFL scouting reports on the future Hall of Famer were mixed, with most feeling his attitude and off-the-field antics weren't worth the risk.

The Minnesota Vikings, however, were willing to take a chance and selected him with the 18th pick of the 1998 NFL Draft.

And, boy, were they glad they did.

Moss hit the ground running, becoming one of 8 All-Pro and 10 Pro Bowl selections for a stacked Vikings roster.

Moss also won the AP Offensive Rookie of the Year award, leading the entire league with 17 receiving touchdowns.

Using his speed and athletic ability, Moss stretched the field with ease, averaging a career-high 19 yards per catch.

With both Moss and Cris Carter as receivers, Minnesota quarterback Randall Cunningham was like a kid at Christmas, leading the Vikings to an outstanding 15-1 record.

However, the Atlanta Falcons broke the hearts of Vikings fans with a 3-point overtime win in the NFC Championship, slamming the door on their historic 15-1 season.

1998 Topps #352 Randy Moss Rookie Card

1998 Topps #356 Charles Woodson Rookie Card

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $80

The Oakland Raiders defense was atrocious during the 1997 NFL season.

Facing a run or pass, it didn't matter; they gave up the most yards in both situations of any team in the league.

They needed help on defense, and they needed it badly.

They got it in the 1998 NFL Draft.

Selected fourth overall out of Michigan, Charles Woodson was a one-man defensive overhaul.

The reigning Heisman Trophy winner wasn't just a lockdown cornerback.

He legitimately forced offensive coordinators to cut the field in half.

Woodson was the X-factor for a resurgent Raiders pass defense that rocketed from 30th in '97 to fourth.

Opposing offenses scored more than 20 points just twice over Oakland's first ten games.

It was Woodson who set the tone for the D.

But it all went to hell for Oakland in the end.

A promising 7-3 start was dashed with a brutal 1-5 finish, extending the Raiders' playoff drought to five seasons.

You can't pin it on Woodson, though.

The first-time Pro Bowler started all 16 games and tallied five interceptions, one pick-six, 15 passes defensed, one fumble recovery, and 61 tackles (54 solo).

He was a no-brainer for Defensive Rookie of the Year.

1998 Topps #356 Charles Woodson Rookie Card

1998 Topps #1 Barry Sanders

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $50

Entering his tenth season in the NFL in 1998, Barry Sanders kept doing what he did year after year for the Detroit Lions: being a nightmare on the ground.

By the time they're 30 years old, most running backs are a shadow of their former selves.

But not Sanders.

He could still juke would-be defenders with his small frame and incredible quickness.

When the dust settled on the season, Sanders had finished with the tenth 1,000+ yard season of his career, recording 1,491 rushing yards on the ground.

With the 20th-ranked offense in the NFL, the Lions didn't find themselves in too many scoring situations.

Hence, Sanders tallied only four rushing touchdowns, the second-lowest mark of his Hall of Fame career.

That didn't matter to Sanders; he only cared about winning.

But at 5-11, the Lions found themselves in fourth place in the NFC Central and way out of playoff contention.

In the offseason, the generational running back thought long and hard about whether he wanted to continue his career.

Ultimately, he decided to hang it up before the 1999 season.

Sanders had grown frustrated with Lions management and the lack of winning.

Had he not retired then, many believe he would have contended for the all-time rushing record.

1998 Topps #1 Barry Sanders Football Card

1998 Topps #250 Jerry Rice

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $50

The GOAT felt renewed after a brutal combination of an ACL and MCL tear in 1997.

"It's a fresh start for me," San Francisco 49ers WR Jerry Rice said before the '98 campaign. "With everything that happened to me last year, this is a new start. I feel like a rookie all over again."

The NFL's all-time leader in receiving yards, receptions, and receiving touchdowns could have looked at things much differently.

After all, he was 36 years old and had two major knee surgeries behind him.

For most wideouts, the second one could have been a career killer.

Rice wasn't most wideouts.

The Niners megastar crossed the 1,000-yard receiving mark for the twelfth time in '98, logging 82 receptions for 1,157 yards and nine touchdowns.

His new career-low 54.3% catch rate was cause for concern, though, and those concerns only amplified in January.

Rice looked gassed in two postseason games, converting on just four of 11 targets for 69 yards and a TD.

The 12-4 49ers were bounced in the Divisional Round by Atlanta and were now faced with an uncertain future.

1998 Topps #250 Jerry Rice Football Card

1998 Topps #341 Hines Ward Rookie Card

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $50

Hines Ward is at or near the top of the list of the 1998 NFL Draft's biggest steals.

No one knew what to do with Ward coming out of college.

He played running back, wide receiver, and quarterback at Georgia.

While he had the chops to make it all work, there were questions about where to put him at the NFL level.

So Ward fell to the third round, eventually swooped up by the Pittsburgh Steelers with the 92nd overall pick.

Many wondered if the Steelers had their "Slash 2.0," a multifaceted skill-position player like starting quarterback Kordell Stewart.

The Steelers weren't interested in that, opting to use Ward on special teams and as a depth option at wide receiver.

The more they used him at wideout, the more the Steelers coaching staff realized Ward's gifts at the position.

While he caught just 15 balls during his rookie year, Ward popped off for a career-best 16.4 yards per reception.

He had obvious big-play ability and the wheels to back it up.

Ward also showed tremendous grit, evidenced by his team-leading tackle count on special teams.

There was something there.

It turned out to be much more than previously expected.

1998 Topps #341 Hines Ward Rookie Card

1998 Topps #25 Emmitt Smith

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $40

After a historical performance in the first half of the 1990s, the Dallas Cowboys began a slow decline under head coach Barry Switzer.

Sure, they won another Super Bowl during his first year in 1995.

And in 1996, they finished a respectable 10-6 before a surprising exit in the Divisional Round against the upstart Carolina Panthers.

But, by 1997, Switzer began to lose the locker room.

Most notably, he and starting quarterback Troy Aikman weren't seeing eye-to-eye.

The wheels fell off in 1997, and the Cowboys finished 6-10.

Switzer resigned soon after.

In 1998, Emmitt Smith and crew were determined to reestablish themselves as a dynasty under new head coach Chan Gailey.

Smith certainly did his part, rushing for 1,332 yards and 13 touchdowns while adding two more scores through the air.

For the seventh time in his career, Smith earned Pro Bowl honors.

Finishing 10-6 and in first place in the NFC East, the Cowboys found themselves back in the playoffs once again.

However, they ran into a brick wall in the Wild Card, losing 20-7 to the Arizona Cardinals and failing to score a single point until the 4th quarter.

1998 Topps #25 Emmitt Smith Football Card

1998 Topps #270 Dan Marino

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $40

Dan Marino never truly fell off.

Even after a shoulder injury ended his 1999 season on the spot, the aging Miami Dolphins quarterback still fielded multiple offers before choosing retirement.

A year before that, Marino was still the big-armed stat factory we'd come to know and love.

The 37-year-old superstar captained yet another top-ten passing offense, completing 57.7% of his passes for 3,497 yards with 23 touchdowns and 15 interceptions.

His 80.0 passer rating was his worst since 1989, but he was still a winner with a veteran touch.

It also helped that the defense handed him the ball so often.

Miami's first-ranked scoring defense surrendered just 16.6 points per game, allowing Marino to breathe and operate the offense.

The Dolphins finished 10-6 on the year, good enough for Marino's ninth trip to the playoffs.

Miami forced five turnovers in a 24-17 Wild Card Game win over Buffalo, but couldn't overcome two Marino interceptions (and a suddenly porous defense) in a 38-3 Divisional Round loss to Denver.

1998 Topps #270 Dan Marino Football Card

1998 Topps #339 Fred Taylor Rookie Card

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $40

Fred Taylor never got the respect he deserved, at least not outside the locker room brotherhood.

While he was repeatedly snubbed for Pro Bowls, All-Pro spots, and Hall-of-Fame consideration, Taylor earned reverence from the league's biggest stars.

Warren Sapp once said, "Fred Taylor was one of the best running backs I ever faced." Ray Lewis called him "one of the best I've ever seen in my life."

Taylor was a complete back, a between-the-tackles headache with world-class speed and insane cut ability.

He was a complete package from the beginning.

Drafted 9th overall out of Florida in the 1998 Draft, Taylor took over as the Jags' starting RB when James Stewart went down in Week 3.

He never looked back, rushing 264 times for 1,223 yards and 14 touchdowns.

His 1,644 yards from scrimmage placed 4th in the AFC, and his 17 rushing/receiving touchdowns tied him for 2nd in the league.

Taylor rushed for 248 yards and a touchdown in the AFC Central champs' two-game run to the Divisional Round.

He was undoubtedly one of the best first-year backs in recent history, yet he was somehow passed over for a Pro Bowl spot.

It would become a theme.

1998 Topps #339 Fred Taylor Rookie Card

1998 Topps #100 Brett Favre

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $30

Call it overkill.

Or, blame it on the interceptions.

It's still wild that reigning back-to-back-to-back NFL MVP Brett Favre didn't receive a single vote in 1998.

The Green Bay Packers gunslinger led the team to a sixth consecutive playoff berth the same way he always had.

Favre threw everything at opposing secondaries and led the NFL in passing yards (4,212), completions (347), and completion rate (63.0%).

He was arguably even more valuable to the Packers than the year before. Green Bay had the 12th-ranked rushing offense in the league in '97.

The unit fell like a rock to 25th in 1998.

It was up to Favre to force the issue, and his interception total reflected that.

The 29-year-old Southern Miss product threw an NFC-worst 23 picks, one off his NFL-leading 24 in 1993.

The turnovers didn't matter much until they did.

The 11-5 Packers secured a Wild Card berth, setting up a road date with the San Francisco 49ers, a back-and-forth affair won by the Niners, 30-27, on a last-second kick.

Favre's two INTs proved costly in what was very much a winnable game.

1998 Topps #100 Brett Favre Football Card

1998 Topps #181 Ray Lewis

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $30

At just 23 years old, Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis had already proven himself one of the best defenders in the game.

In his sophomore campaign in 1997, Lewis led the NFL in combined tackles (184) and solo tackles (156), both eye-popping numbers.

Lewis had the size and quickness but also an incredible sense of field awareness and football IQ.

However, aside from Lewis, the Ravens hadn't given fans much to cheer about, finishing with losing seasons in their first two years in Baltimore.

Would there be brighter days for Lewis and crew in 1998?

Unfortunately for Ravens fans, no.

At 6-10, the Ravens finished fourth in the AFC Central to seal their third losing season in a row under coach Ted Marchibroda.

But Lewis remained steadfast in command of the Ravens defense.

Though he missed two games of the season, he finished with 120 combined tackles, a forced fumble, three sacks, and two interceptions.

He and five of his Ravens teammates earned a trip to the Pro Bowl despite the team's lack of overall success.

Still, there would be plenty of brighter days ahead for the franchise.

1998 Topps #181 Ray Lewis Football Card

1998 Topps #300 John Elway

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $30

Though he was coming off his first Super Bowl victory after more than a decade of dominant play, Denver Broncos quarterback John Elway wasn't satisfied.

And neither was the rest of the team.

Finishing in first place of the AFC West with a 14-2 record, the 1998 Denver Broncos were even better than the year before.

And their star-filled roster that finished the year with ten Pro Bowlers, including Elway, proved it.

For his part, the Hall of Fame quarterback completed 210 of his 356 passes for 2,806 yards and 22 touchdowns in thirteen games.

He was effective, but at 38 years old, with years of bangs and bruises to show for it, Elway's mobility suffered.

Painkiller shots and physical therapy sessions were a must throughout the season.

Elway wasn't his sharpest against the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets in the first two playoff games, but he didn't have to be.

Star running back Terrell Davis ran all over both teams, finishing with a combined 366 rushing yards and three touchdowns.

But when the Broncos needed him most, Elway was there.

With 366 yards and a touchdown, Elway earned MVP honors as the Broncos claimed their second-straight Super Bowl title with a 34-19 win over the Atlanta Falcons.

1998 Topps #300 John Elway Football Card

1998 Topps #320 Deion Sanders

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $30

You know you're different when the NFL has to create a new award in your honor.

Ever the consummate showboater, Sanders did everything well and let you know about it.

And there was never a better example of that than his Week 3 masterpiece against the rival Giants.

"Prime Time" took over the prime-time Monday Night Football slot, scoring the game's first touchdown on an electric 59-yard punt return.

It wouldn't be the first high step of the night.

Sanders caught a 55-yard pass later in the game and put an exclamation point on a 31-7 blowout with an incredible 71-yard pick-six.

Rather than sweeping Offensive, Defensive, and Special Teams Player of the Week, the future Hall-of-Famer was presented a customized "Prime Time Player of the Week" award.

It's a fitting gesture for a player with no historical parallel.

Sanders intercepted five passes in '98 for 153 return yards despite missing five games with a turf toe.

He added 25 tackles (22 solo), a fumble recovery, seven receptions for 100 yards, and 24 punt returns for 375 yards and an NFL-best two touchdowns.

(Oh yeah, he led all punt returners with 15.6 yards per return. Whew.)

Despite missing over a quarter of the season, Sanders finished fifth in the league's Defensive Player of the Year race and notched his third straight First-Team All-Pro spot and his seventh Pro Bowl nomination.

1998 Topps #320 Deion Sanders Football Card

1998 Topps Football Cards In Review

This set has it all: major Hall of Fame rookie cards, solid non-Hall-of-Fame rookie cards, and plenty of big-name stars.

And the gold borders added a very nice design touch.

Yes, they can make things tricky when it comes to condition issues.

But the look and feel is well worth it.

Peyton Manning and Randy Moss are by far the most desirable cards in the set, but there are so many good ones packed in the 360-card checklist.

Unopened Box of 1998 Topps Football Cards

Other information about this set includes:

Checklist: 360 cards 

Distribution: One Series


  • Checklists (#329 - 330)
  • Draft Picks (#331 - 360)

Insert Sets

  • Autographs
  • Generation 2000
  • Gridiron Gods
  • Hall of Fame
  • Hall of Fame Class of 1998
  • Hidden Gems
  • Measures of Greatness
  • Mystery Finest
  • Mystery Finest Refractors
  • Season's Best

Without a doubt, Peyton Manning and Randy Moss lead a solid rookie card class that makes this set stand out like few other sets of the era could.

Collectors still love ripping packs of these cards hoping to land one of the big ones.

Just as it was then, this set is solid.

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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