1971 Topps Terry Bradshaw Rookie Card: The Ultimate Collector’s Guide
When you think about football cards from the 1970's, the Terry Bradshaw rookie card is surely one that comes to mind.
I've always liked this card because its design is simple and straightforward.
The color scheme makes it a great-looking card and a must-have for any vintage football card collector, in my opinion.
Collectors must agree, too, because demand for Bradshaw's rookie remains quite high.
So much so that it's still one of the most valuable football cards in the hobby overall.
Whether you're buying or selling, this comprehensive guide on Bradshaw's rookie card should cover everything you need to know about this iconic card.
Distinction: This is his only recognized mainstream rookie card. We'll go over a couple of other oddball Bradshaw rookie cards printed in 1971, the Dell and Topps Game issues, but this is the key Bradshaw rookie that most collectors want. It's also one of the key rookie cards of the 1970's alongside those of guys like Roger Staubach, Walter Payton and O.J. Simpson.
Number: This is card #156 in a the set of 263 cards.
Design: The card has a vertical layout and features a nice head shot of a young Bradshaw on a bright sunny day surrounded by rich, red borders. His name is printed in yellow block letters across the top while his position and Steelers team name fill out the bottom. As I said, the design is fairly straightforward overall but that's what gives it strong eye appeal, in my opinion.
Reverse Side: The reverse side of the card is also printed vertically and features Bradshaw's personal information and statistics from the 1970 season. There is also a nice write-up about his collegiate accolades and how he performed well enough in the pre-season during 1970 to win the starting quarterback job. Like the front, the back side is also straightforward and to the point.
Condition Issues: Those red borders may look nice but they can spell trouble when it comes to wear and tear. Like any non-white border, these colored borders are more susceptible to showing nicks and dings. Centering can also be an issue to watch for as these cuts weren't always cut perfectly. Remember how sensitive the values of this card can be based on its condition: the slightest issue can sway the price thousands of dollars.
Terry Bradsahw Rookie Card Value
The first thing most collectors ask is: how much is a Terry Bradshaw rookie card worth?
As I mentioned earlier, it's actually one of the most expensive football cards you can find.
Condition is key, though, if you want your Bradshaw rookie to fetch top dollar.
Professional grading is the easiest way to help judge a card's condition and Professional Sports Authenticators (PSA) are usually thought to be the benchmark in that industry.
Not only does PSA evaluate the authenticity and condition of cars, they also publish their own price guide called the Sports Market Report (SMR) to help judge values as well.
According to the PSA SMR current market values of Bradshaw's rookie are:
PSA 9 MINT: $18,500
PSA 8 NM-MT: $1,200
PSA 7 NM: $425
PSA 6 EX-MT: $150
You can see how important the condition of the card is.
If it's mint, then you're talking thousands of dollars. If it's got some slight wear issues or centering is a bit off, that can quickly devalue it.
Other Terry Bradshaw Rookie Cards
Even though they may not be recognized as mainstream cards, these other Bradshaw cards from 1971 can be considered rookie cards as well.
The 1971 Dell set featured 48 cards that measured 1-3/4" x 3". They were each bordered by black and yellow borders and were not individually numbered. You can see that Bradshaw's card isn't the greatest-looking card by any means. The lighting of the photo produces a very dark image of the Hall of Fame quarterback that's tough to really enjoy. Still, it's a must-have for any vintage Steelers or Bradshaw collector.
Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $450
1971 Topps Game #43
The 1971 Topps Game set featured 53 cards that measured 2-1/4" x 3-1/4". They functioned as part of a game and each featured different play outcomes, in Bradshaw's case a 4 yard loss. The dual image design makes for an interesting concept but served mainly to give multiple participants in the game a view at the same time. Again, it's an oddball card but any Bradshaw collector would be happy to own one.
Estimated PSA 9 Mint Value: $125
Terry Bradshaw's Legacy
Terry Bradshaw goes down as one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game and easily one of the most effective.
He didn't put up the jaw-dropping stats that today's quarterbacks do (the game was different then anyways) but he knew how to win.
In fact, he went undefeated in Super Bowl play as he went on to win four Super Bowl rings throughout the 1970's
In total he spent 14 seasons in the league, all with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
His list of accomplishments include:
- Four Super Bowl championships
- Two Super Bowl MVPs
- 1978 NFL MVP
- Three Pro Bowls
- First Team All-Pro 1978
Most quarterbacks only dream of the career that Bradshaw had.
It's easy to see why he remains so popular and his rookie cards are still in such high demand.