With the NFL’s 2018 regular season kicking off this week, all eyes are once again focused on the gridiron. And, since we are all clearly “ready for some football,” it’s only natural to steer some of our cardboard collecting pursuits toward researching rookie cards of football studs from yesteryear. After perusing worthy candidates, one of the top guns from football’s modern era of cards remains Troy Aikman, the former signal-caller for the Dallas Cowboys.
Coming out of the gate, Aikman had his hands full in Big D. But as the years progressed, the NFL’s 1989 No. 1 overall draft pick made good on early predictions that he’d help turn the franchise around. In Aikman’s fourth year, he restored Dallas back to “America’s Team” status by delivering a Super Bowl title. Winning Super Bowl XXVII MVP honors that year firmly established his star. Two more Super Bowl titles over the next three seasons permanently cemented his legacy.
Luckily for collectors, Aikman’s rookie card issues remain surprisingly affordable. Let’s look at the Hall of Famer’s three readily available RCs:
1989 Pro Set #490 Troy Aikman
- PSA Population: 983 Mint 9 | 629 Gem Mint 10
- Average Cost for PSA Gem Mint 10: $20.48
- Average Cost for PSA Mint 9: $7.40
Although Pro Set’s inaugural set offered crisp photography for its time, the company’s tendency to go back and print more spelled its doom. Its busy card design, mixing multiple logos, titles and monikers, made the cards memorable but not exactly valuable. Aikman, the NFL’s No. 1 draft pick that year, is shown dropping back for a pass while sporting his UCLA Bruins blue-and-gold colors on card #490.
Even the company’s tagline – “Pro Set – The Official NFL Card” – was short lived as they went out of business in five years. As you can tell by the low number of Aikman’s Pro Set rookie cards that have been graded by PSA, it’s not a hugely sought-after card. Even in PSA Gem Mint 10 condition, it’s worth only $20.
1989 Topps Traded #70T Troy Aikman
- PSA Population: 5,183 Mint 9 | 1,862 Gem Mint 10
- Average Cost for PSA Gem Mint 10: $20.52
- Average Cost for PSA Mint 9: $8.37
The design of Aikman’s Topps Traded RC (#70T) is simple and yet effective, and it’s the only one of his three RCs that shows him in his Cowboys uniform (helmet and pants included). This issue, which was released as part of a 132-card box set, also marked the first time Topps produced a traded set in football cards.
Although his ’89 Score is considered the rookie card to get, this Topps Traded effort is still worthy of collecting. Its inflated PSA population report when compared to both its Pro Set and Score counterparts shows it’s a card that has a healthy number of football followers.
1989 Score #270 Troy Aikman
- PSA Population: 4,177 Mint 9 | 1,146 Gem Mint 10
- Average Cost for PSA Gem Mint 10: $106.02
- Average Cost for PSA Mint 9: $22.55
Aikman’s most popular and valuable rookie card (#270) comes out of the ’89 Score set. The collection was largely trumpeted for its outstanding player selection including RCs of other soon-to-be NFL studs like Barry Sanders, Deion Sanders, Cris Carter, Michael Irvin, Tim Brown and Thurman Thomas.
But the colored borders on the cards make them susceptible to chipping and this sometimes makes it difficult to find in PSA Gem Mint 10 condition. Another issue that sometimes hampers Aikman’s RC is poor centering. But his youthful grin coupled with the card’s simple design helps make Score his most sought-after and prized rookie issue.
If you combine the overall purchase price of all three of Aikman’s rookie cards in PSA Gem Mint 10 condition, your total comes to just $147.02, with the front-running Score issue accounting for 72% of the pie. And to take it a step further on the affordability scale, if you ponied up for all three rookie cards in PSA Mint 9 condition, your total spend would come to a mere $38.32! Translation: This is an incredibly inexpensive buy-in for a first-ballot Pro Football Hall of Famer (Class of 2006) who also secured three Lombardi Trophies along the way! Give the set a try on the PSA Set Registry.