In this new, ongoing series, we explore various sets on the PSA Set Registry, featuring the trading cards of iconic athletes. Select cards will be highlighted and the requirements of each set will be included.
Joe Namath was born for stardom, and it showed during the height of his success. The camera would gravitate towards the charismatic quarterback, which eventually led to “The Joe Namath Show,” along with several movie and television roles. His nickname, “Broadway Joe,” was all too accurate. Maybe all of that fame and practice signing autographs is why he has one of the more stylish signatures in the game.
But we’re not here to discuss his acting chops. Rather, it’s his gridiron guts, football exploits and famous Super Bowl III “guarantee” that led to Namath becoming one of the most celebrated athletes in sports. And because of this, his rookie card has since been elevated to pop culture status, fetching incredible value in high grade as one of the most recognizable football cards – nay, sports cards – out there.
The two-sport standout was considered by both baseball and football scouts, alike. But Namath ultimately settled for football when the Jets drafted him No. 1 overall in the 1965 AFL Draft. Namath hit the ground running. The promising quarterback established himself as one of the premier young signal-callers in the game and earned AFL Rookie of the Year honors.
But his crowning achievement was his famous Super Bowl guarantee, despite the Jets being heavy underdogs against the formidable Baltimore Colts for Super Bowl III in 1969. Namath delivered on his promise, upsetting the favorites 16-7.
Broadway Joe’s legend was firmly in place.
Eventually, nagging knee injuries began to take their toll, and the Jets heroic quarterback saw his numbers and playing time decline, before wrapping up his playing days as a Los Angeles Ram in 1977. Still, Namath had carved out his legacy during his glory days with the Jets, and he was enshrined in football lore – and the Hall of Fame in 1985.
Because of his perpetual notoriety, and because of his fabled Super Bowl guarantee, Namath remains a revered, widely collected athlete.
We take a look at four ’60s era Namath cards and the associated trading card value of each. Though his cards can command impressive price tags in high grade, you’d be surprised at what Broadway Joe cards you can readily add to your collection.
PSA Good 2: $1,150
PSA Excellent 5: $2,000
PSA Near Mint-Mint 8: $25,000
The words “iconic” and “Holy Grail” get thrown around often in the hobby, and many times to cards that aren’t necessarily deserving of such superlatives. But this card is the most recognizable football card in the hobby. The undisputed key card in an already popular set, 1965 Topps #122 Joe Namath is both tough to get your hands on and a tough grade. To add to its allure, there is also an even more rare version with an ink mark over the quarterback’s left hand, known in the hobby as the “Butterfly” variation. Due to its large size, general wear remains a grading challenge. The card also suffers from pesky centering issues. High-grade issues are quite a touchdown at auction. Just look at that leap from PSA 5 to PSA 8!
PSA Good 2: $80
PSA Excellent 5: $110
PSA Near Mint-Mint 8: $500
In 1966, once again, Broadway Joe’s cards were among the most sought-after cards of the year, thanks in part to a thin rookie class. Polarizing woodgrain paneling aside, this is a pivotal card of the storied quarterback during his sophomore season. Though it isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing early Namath card, the good news for collectors is this and the following Namath issues are very affordable. Just look at the comparative prices to his rookie issue. In terms of condition challenges, centering can still impact its grade, along with chipping on the borders.
PSA Good 2: $20
PSA Excellent 5: $60
PSA Near Mint-Mint 8: $230
In 1967, Topps skipped the posed, throwing gimmick and went straight to the mugshot.The company also employed a striking color burst with each card. Namath’s issue is flanked by blue, with a stylized “Jets” on each of the top corners. Again, the gunslinger is one of the more sought-after cards of the set, as PSA 10 examples can fetch around $6,000. But if you’re happy with PSA 8, examples can be had at a fraction of the price at $200 or so. Centering remains fickle with this issue.
PSA Good 2: $14
PSA Excellent 5: $35
PSA Near Mint-Mint 8: $190
Namath’s 1968 Topps card sees the popular quarterback in another posed throwing position; it’s also Namath’s first issue to feature the Jets logo. Another colorful issue from Topps, this card shows the gunslinger among a blue sky background, framed by blue and with his name and position emphasized by blue visual elements. The young quarterback wasn’t feeling blue during this time, however; Namath was riding the high point of his career and on the path to lead his team to a Super Bowl III championship and earn Super Bowl MVP honors. Despite Namath’s hallmark year, this blue issue remains readily available and affordable. PSA 8 examples will just cost you around the $190 mark.
Remaining Joe Namath Cards Required to Complete the Set
(Including PSA weights)
- 1965 TOPPS #122 JOE NAMATH (10.00)
- 1966 TOPPS #96 JOE NAMATH (6.00)
- 1967 TOPPS #98 JOE NAMATH (4.00)
- 1968 TOPPS #65 JOE NAMATH (3.00)
- 1969 TOPPS #100 JOE NAMATH (3.00)
- 1970 TOPPS #150 JOE NAMATH (2.50)
- 1971 TOPPS #250 JOE NAMATH (3.00)
- 1972 TOPPS #100 JOE NAMATH (2.00)
- 1973 TOPPS #400 JOE NAMATH (2.00)
Browse through the cards required to complete the set within the image gallery section of the Set Registry.
A Guaranteed Collecting Win
Football has its fair share of legendary athletes, those that accomplished some phenomenal feats on the gridiron, but few enjoyed the sheer fame and notoriety that Broadway Joe did in the height of his career and even immediately following his playing days.
He was, without a doubt, the first sports superstar. And superstar athletes in the modern era should tip their cap to “Joe Willie” for paving the way.
On top of his fame, aside from his guaranteed Super Bowl victory, Namath enjoyed some tremendous success in New York when things were really clicking. Though Namath didn’t produce earth-shattering statistics in his playing days, he enjoyed a run leading up to his Super Bowl championship when he was among the best in the game. It’s for all of these reasons that his cards, namely his iconic 1965 Topps rookie, are cardboard gold.
But if you’re not in it for the notoriety and can make do with mid-grade examples, there is a Namath card and grade for every type of collector. Visit the PSA Set Registry and give the Joe Namath Basic Set a shot. We guarantee you’ll have fun on your journey.Start Your Set Today