Having been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame at the first time of asking in 2018, we’re taking the time to revisit the best Ray Lewis rookie cards on the market.
Linebacker Ray Lewis spent his entire 17-year career with the Baltimore Ravens, finishing up with the most seasons played (17), most career games (228) and most career opponent fumbles recovered (20). He posted a franchise record 2,643 career tackles, as part of a fearsome two-time (XXXV, XLVII) Super Bowl winning team that had one of the most dominant defenses in NFL history.
The Best Ray Lewis Rookie Cards
Ray Lewis rookie cards were released in 1996, and he was included in almost every major set as a round one draft pick. Here’s a trio of top options to look out for:
3. 1996 Stadium Club Ray Lewis RC #351 SP (eBay)
The first card to make the list is the 1996 Stadium Club Ray Lewis RC. It features a great action shot of the linebacker, and was originally a short print, even if it’s readily available today. If you’re on the lookout for something a bit more valuable, there’s also the Members Only parallel, which can be seen in the image above. Check out the unique design on the reverse, which makes it easy to identify if the card is ungraded:
(You should be able to see ‘Members Only’ printed across the back repeatedly.)
Check prices of 1996 Stadium Club Ray Lewis RC on eBay
2. 1996 Bowman’s Best Ray Lewis RC #164 (eBay)
1996 Bowman’s Best is another strong product, with no hard border and a simple shot of a rookie Lewis. Once again, there’s a duo of rare parallels to chase, with both Refractor and Atomic Refractor versions. They’re going to be some of the most valuable options if you’re sticking with cards from 1996. (The Atomic Refractor fell at a rate of one in two hobby boxes, so it can be tough to locate.)
Check prices of 1996 Bowman’s Best Ray Lewis RC on eBay
1. 1994 Miami Bumble Bee Perforated Ray Lewis RC (eBay)
The 1994 Miami Hurricanes Bumble Bee Ray Lewis RC is a college release, as part of a perforated sheet of 24 cards that can still be found uncut in rare cases. It’s another that can be tough to locate in pristine condition, given the low print runs.
The 1994 Miami Bumble Bee Perforated set is arguably best known for containing a card featuring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, even if the wrestler turned actor failed to make it into the NFL.
If you’re looking for the most valuable options overall, PSA 10 graded copies can be hard to come by.
Check prices of 1994 Miami Bumble Bee Perforated Ray Lewis Ravens RC on eBay
Why aren’t Ray Lewis RCs more valuable?
Given he’s one of only two players to win Defensive Player of the Year and Super Bowl MVP in the same season, why aren’t his RCs more valuable? Well, he was initially arrested on murder charges in Atlanta in 1999, eventually pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge of obstructing justice afterwards. It also led to Lewis being fined $250,000 by the NFL. The story is brought up every so often in the press, even if it was a long time ago.
The cards are also a byproduct of the overprinted era, so only pristine versions of the rarest cards are truly valuable.
Ray Lewis Rookie Cards: Final Thoughts
Ray Lewis RCs aren’t the most valuable cards from the era, but it’s hard to think of many players who had a similar impact on the field.
He’s arguably the greatest linebacker of all-time, and helped Baltimore defeat the San Francisco 49ers 34-31 in Super Bowl XLVII in his final game.