Emmitt Smith Rookie Cards: The Ultimate Collector’s Guide
You could say that Emmitt Smith rookie cards have held up as well year after year as he did throughout his playing career.
Of the five mainstream rookie cards he has, some are definitely more valuable than others...
But, they all seem to be consistently desirable year after year.
If there is one thing I will always admire about Emmitt Smith's approach to the game, it's how consistent he was.
One of my favorite quotes of his was when he said, "It never ends. If you play the game to win one Super Bowl or two Super Bowls and then be satisfied, you are playing for the wrong reason. No matter how much you win, you want to win more."
A mindset like that is how you end up with eleven straight 1,000 yard rushing seasons and become the career rushing leader.
His storied career helps keep his rookie cards on collectors' radars and in this guide we go through all five of them.
Let's jump right in!
1990 Action Packed #34 Emmitt Smith Rookie Card
Estimated PSA 10 Value: $180
First on the list is the 1990 Action Packed rookie that features a great action shot of Smith running the ball.
The embossing and helmet with the "R" in the upper right card make this an easily recognizable Action Packed design.
His second-most-expensive rookie card, this card has withstood the test of time fairly well and in top condition will set you back just south of $200.
The design on the back side of the card is fairly straight forward and displays a headshot of the young Smith, his collegiate stats and a great write-up on his achievements.
1990 Fleer Update #U40
Estimated PSA 10 Value: $25
I've always liked the design of this card because of the color scheme and terrific action shot of Smith.
Usually you can spot a Fleer card from a mile away but in this case, I don't think it's got that same "Fleer" feel to it as many from this era did.
I don't know what it is but for some reason it just appears to have a bit more pop to it than Fleer cards typically had.
Despite the great design and quality card stock on which they were printed, these can be had relatively inexpensively in top grade.
The back of the card, on the other hand, definitely looks like a Fleer design.
From the flat color scheme to the structured layout, this is what I typically envision when I think about Fleer cards.
His collegiate statistics are noticeably absent but Fleer made up for it with a large profile shot of Smith and a lengthy write-up on the talented running back.
1990 Pro Set #685
Estimated PSA 10 Value: $40
Pro-Set was a company out of Dallas that owner Ludwell Denny founded in 1988 once he gained a license from the NFL to be their official producer of football cards.
Hence, the "Official NFL Card" shown at the top of the card.
This is probably my favorite Emmitt Smith rookie from a design standpoint.
The photography is bright and clear while it almost makes you feel like you're right in the middle of the action.
Usually sports cards of this era called out rookies in a much more bold fashion compared to the subtle "1990 Draft, First Round" banner across the top.
But, I think this gives the card a classier feel overall.
A lack of borders make the edges susceptible to showing wear rather easily.
The back of the card is a nice complement to the front as the color scheme and classy design are maintained.
There are no collegiate stats on this card either while the write-up is written in a sentence fragment fashion that reminds me of the backs of old vintage Bowman baseball cards.
1990 Score Supplemental #101T
Estimated PSA 10 Value: $275
Emmitt Smith's premier rookie card, the 1990 Score Supplemental is the one that sits atop most Smith collectors' want lists.
And it's easily his most expensive as pricing can approach $300 for pristine examples.
The design looks like a typical Score design from that era and features a great action shot of Smith bearing down on the New York Giants defense.
The back of the card looks even more typical of a Score design than the front with the color scheme and sectioning of design elements.
Score also chose not to list any of Smith's stats from his time at Florida but I think they did a nice job of structuring the rest of the relevant information alongside a nice headshot.
1990 Topps Traded #27T
Estimated PSA 10 Value: $25
Last on our list, the 1990 Topps Traded is among the more affordable Smith rookies you can find.
The image of Smith kneeling as opposed to him rushing with the football on all of his other cards doesn't help boost eye appeal.
But, the drag on value has more to do with just how many of these cards exist in top grade.
As of the time of this writing, PSA has graded over 4,000 of these cards to be in PSA 10 gem mint condition compared to less than 200 for his Action Packed card.
The back of the card is also probably the most boring of his rookie cards based solely on a lack of any image of Smith.
Topps was never really known for placing images on the backs of their cards during that era, though.
However, they did include all of Smith's relevant information along with his stats with the Florida Gators and a short but sweet write-up about his accomplishments.
Most collectors focus on the fronts of cards but for those who appreciate the reverse sides of cards, this one leaves a little to be desired compared to the others on this list.
Emmitt Smith's Legacy
Smith goes down in history as one of the best running backs in history (arguably the best) with a huge list of accomplishments to his credit.
The legendary icon continues to hold the record for most career rushing yards (18,355), most rushing touchdowns (164) and most rushing attempts (4,409).
He played with a relentless mindset and performed consistently at a high level as well as anyone.
Along the way, he would record a list of amazing achievements that included but are not limited to:
- 3x Super Bowl Champion
- Super Bowl MVP (XXVIII)
- NFL MVP (1993)
- 8x Pro Bowler
- 4x First Team All-Pro
- Offensive Rookie of the Year (1990)
Again, those are just some of a huge list of accomplishments throughout his storied career.
He was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 2010.