Peyton Manning retired in 2016 as the only five-time NFL MVP and a two-time Super Bowl winner, with career totals of 71,940 passing yards and 539 touchdowns.
One of the NFL’s all-time great quarterbacks who left the game holding a slew of passing records, Manning has easily earned a spot in the 2021 Pro Football Hall of Fame.
As one of the greatest quarterbacks ever, serious attention is paid to the best Peyton Manning rookie cards, which have continued to increase in value ever since he won his first ring.
Here’s a roundup with 10 of the best Peyton Manning rookie cards to collect, with lots of information about how and why they managed to make the list in the first place.
The Best Peyton Manning Rookie Cards
He made his debut in 1998, and there are over 40 Peyton Manning rookie cards to choose from across various NFL sets.
10. 1998 E-X2001 Peyton Manning RC #54 (eBay)
The first Peyton Manning RC to make the list is found in the 1998 Skybox E-X2001 collection. It’s not especially expensive by any means, because the Manning base card was included in the majority of boxes. However, pristine copies are still fairly valuable, more so if they’ve been graded by a reputable company like PSA or BGS. You’ll also be able to find an Essentials Credentials Future card, and a Stardate parallel within the set.
Given a crisp acetate and rainbow foil finish, the practice uniform is one notable drawback.
9. 1998 Pacific Revolution Peyton Manning RC #58 (eBay)
The 1998 Pacific Revolution set contains a Manning RC that is instantly recognizable thanks to a swirly background embossed with foil. It features a simple action shot of the legendary quarterback as he prepares to release a pinpoint accurate pass.
However, it’s tough to locate PSA 10 copies due to the flaky finish and the fragile corners, with only 34 on the registry at the current time of writing.
8. 1998 Bowman Chrome Peyton Manning RC #1 (eBay)
It’s hard to go do better than 1998 Bowman Chrome Football if you’re looking for the best Peyton Manning rookie cards. The set marked the first foray into the sport for the brand, and it proved to be a success.
The first card in the set, the base 1998 Bowman Chrome Manning RC is reasonably popular, but the Refractor parallel kicks it up a notch. (Refractors were randomly inserted 1:12 packs.) Expect to pay at least four figures for graded copies. If you’d prefer a clean RC with a great action shot, look no further.
7. 1998 Topps Finest Peyton Manning RC #121 (eBay)
Topps Finest is another popular set if you’re looking for rookie cards from the late 1990’s. As with Bowman Chrome, the Refractor parallels have held their value well over the past 25 years, and will sell for over $1,000 if it has earned a Gem Mint grade. Given the foil finish, cards originally had a clear plastic cover designed to protect the surface. As such, you’ll still be able to find peeled and unpeeled versions.
6. 1998 Upper Deck Peyton Manning RC #1 (eBay)
Upper Deck included Manning as the first player in their 1998 base set. It’s another card with a unique design that helps it to stand out, while there’s also a Bronze parallel which is serial numbers to 100 copies. Found in the Star Rookie subset, it’s considered to be a short print.
5. 1998 Leaf Rookies & Stars Peyton Manning RC #233 (eBay)
This Leaf Rookies & Stars card is another short print, even if that didn’t mean much back in 1998. (It’s fairly abundant as of 2022, and you should be able to find PSA copies for just over $100.) For a more valuable option, you can always look to hand-signed versions.
It does benefit from one of the crisper card designs, with full-bleed borders and a strong action shot of Manning clutching a football.
4. 1998 Topps Chrome Peyton Manning RC #165 (eBay)
The flagship 1998 Topps Chrome set contains a top option that features one of the more exciting shots of Manning in his rookie season. It comes with a gold border, complimenting a distinctly understated design.
As you might have guessed, the Refractor parallels are where you’ll find the most valuable copies. For example, a PSA 10 version sold for $13,610 in September 2022.
3. 1998 SP Authentic Peyton Manning RC #14 #/2,000 (eBay)
Limited to 2,000 copies, the 1998 SP Authentic Peyton Manning RC also has a die-cut version with a print run of just 500. It features two images of a rookie Manning in his debut year, and it’s one of the more popular brands overall. Once again, it’s a valuable option, with a PSA 10 copy of the base card recently selling for $7,600.
2. 1998 SPx Finite Peyton Manning RC #181 #/1,998 (eBay)
The 1998 SPx Finite is another premium Peyton Manning rookie card that is instantly recognizable thanks to the ornate foil found in the middle. Base copies are numbered to 1998, while parallels from the set include Radiance and Spectrum. With a print run of 150, Spectrum parallels are some of the rarest RCs to make the list.
1. 1998 Playoff Contenders Rookie Ticket Autograph Peyton Manning RC #87 /200 (eBay)
There’s no better Peyton Manning RC than his Rookie Ticket, which is found in 1998 Playoff Contenders sets. It uses a traditional RT design, with an image of the player superimposed over the orange and white background. There’s a signed version, coming in with a print run of only 200 copies.
In addition to the regular Rookie Ticket Auto, there are a couple of unsigned parallels, with the Red version being the most common.
A Gold version is numbered to 25 and doesn’t show up very often. Because of the print run, it commands strong prices as a rare Manning collectible.
Peyton Manning Rookie Cards: Buyers Guide
What do we think of the current market for the best Peyton Manning rookie cards ever? Here are our thoughts if you’re tempted to pick up a copy or two.
With 40+ options to pick from, there’s something to suit almost every budget if you’re looking at graded Peyton Manning rookie cards. The Topps Chrome is popular, while the SPx Finite is more affordable than you might have expected considering the serial number. In any case, there’s a variety of cheaper options to chase.
Signed copies of the 1998 Playoff Contenders Rookie Ticket are few and far between, and they have to be seen as the best Peyton Manning rookie cards overall. After all, it’s limited to only 200 copies, and it’s his sole rookie auto. Even the base card is worth four figures if graded, and the Red version is always popular.
Peyton Manning Rookie Cards: Final Thoughts
Even though he entered the Hall of Fame in 2021, Manning rookie cards have been considered to be a safe investment option for half a decade. There’s a large market for his RCs among collectors, with entry-level options complimented by a strong selection of high-end Refractors and serial numbered copies. Of course, you’ll have to pay a premium to add the rarest versions to your PC.
Quarterbacks always tend to be some of the most valuable players overall, and Manning is no exception.