Diamonds in the Junk – 1991 Pacific Plus Football4 min read


For collectors of a certain age there is something oddly comforting about junk wax cards. Far too many were printed, they’re littered with quasi-errors and print issues, and “rare” chase cards are numbered in the thousands. However, they are also full of players who are now in their respective halls of fame, the cards are necessary parts of many PSA Set Registries and a $5 or $10 investment can still bring hours of enjoyment. Not a bad deal. Below is the first installment in a new PSA Blog series called Diamonds in the Junk, where we will crack some junk wax, review the results, relate them to the hobby today and have some fun along the way.


With their inaugural release in 1991, Pacific Plus football cards pushed their way onto the hobby scene in a genre that was already inhabited by Topps, Fleer, Score, Upper Deck, Action Packed, and the many off-shoot sets they all produced. Pacific Plus is a 660-card issue that took advantage of the relatively new idea of using color imagery on the fronts and backs of their cards. The cards have a crisp appearance, though through the lens of nearly 30 years the design is reminiscent of Max Headroom commercials and Patrick Nagel posters.

In addition to the expected stars of the day, excitement surrounded the product in terms of a rookie class that is now rather yawn-worthy (despite including Brett Favre). As should be expected of sets from the era, there is an overload of error cards in the set (both corrected and not), though none made a significant impact on the hobby. The cards that most hobbyists were searching for, however, were from the Pacific Picks the Pros insert sets, which could be found in gold (in wax and foil packs only) and silver (in jumbo packs only) formats. There were 10,000 of each card produced, and while that might seem laughable by modern standards, these were considered “rare hits” back in the day.


I grabbed a box of 1991 Pacific Plus off the bargain table at my LCS recently and in a fit of nostalgia ripped it to see the “treasures” that lay within. For me it was like a trip back to see the NFL during my early college days and I quite enjoyed the experience. There were 36 packs in the box with 14 cards in each for a total of 504 cards, and the distribution seemed pretty good. I was really impressed with the selection of Hall of Famers that I got – Marcus Allen, Morten Anderson, Tim Brown, Cris Carter (2), Richard Dent, Chris Doleman, John Elway (2), Darrell Green, Kevin Greene (2), Michael Irvin (2), Rickey Jackson, James Lofton, Howie Long, Art Monk, Warren Moon, Mike Munchak, Anthony Munoz, Andre Reed, Jerry Rice, Barry Sanders (2), Deion Sanders, Junior Seau, Shannon Sharpe, Mike Singletary, Jackie Slater, Bruce Smith, Emmitt Smith, Lawrence Taylor, Derrick Thomas, Thurman Thomas, Andre Tippett, Reggie White, Rod Woodson, Steve Young and Gary Zimmerman (2).

In addition to HOF legends, a fair number of big-name ’90s guys lengthened the stroll down memory lane – Andre Ware (Heisman ’89), Dennis Byrd (who was paralyzed from a hit during a game), The Fridge, Tony “The Incredible Bulk” Mandarich, Ickey Woods, Jeff George, Christian “The Nigerian Nightmare” Okoye, Bo Jackson and many more.

Unfortunately I didn’t come up with any Pacific Picks the Pros cards, but a quick search shows that they have come down in price since their heyday, and can now be had for a song.


This was an enjoyable rip. Lots of memorable players loaded into the packs, nice action photos, good collation and the temptation of chase cards that was enough to keep me ripping. As to be expected with wax, the bottom cards in each pack suffered from the sealing process and were left with wax residue. Still, the remaining cards withstood nearly 30 years of encasement and came out of the packs in fine condition. If you can pick up a box for $10 or less, I would say that the ripping experience alone is worth your investment. If you are a player collector looking to knock some cards off your want lists, then that is even better.


Posted by Todd Tobias

Todd Tobias is a longtime hobbyist and PSA staff member who is constantly on the hunt for vintage lacrosse issues and autographed cards for his American Football League (1960-1969) collection.

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4 thoughts on “Diamonds in the Junk – 1991 Pacific Plus Football4 min read

  1. I have a certified box on its way now to break open the nostalgia on Saturday. I paid 12 bucks including shipping so let the fun begin!

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