By Ryan Cracknell | Hobby Editor
When it comes to card design, there’s a fine line between being classy and gaudy. 1998 Leaf Rookies and Stars Crusade navigates it nicely, resulting in one of football’s more popular inserts of the late 1990s.
Printed using something called Spectra-tech, the overall look and feel is similar to Refractors and Prizms found in modern chromium products. The regal designs that make up the background help make Crusade cards instantly recognizable.
The 30-card checklist is skip numbered leaving plenty of gaps. The highest number in the set is 78. A good chunk of the players included in the set have gone on to the Hall of Fame. Barry Sanders, Emmitt Smith, Brett Favre and Dan Marino are just a few of the all-time greats. A couple of big-name 1998 rookies are also in 1998 Leaf Rookies and Stars Crusade, Peyton Manning and Randy Moss.
Base Green versions come serial numbered to 250 copies, which was quite rare at the time. All 30 cards also have Purple (/100) and Red (/25). While not the first chromium set to feature multiple tiers of color-based parallels, 1998 Leaf Rookies and Stars Football Crusade has one of the hobby’s early rainbows.
The impact of these inserts (and they’re extremely popular baseball counterparts) is still visible today. Panini has brought back Crusade cards in several recent sets. Collectors could also see the inspiration in early versions of Leaf’s Valiant line.
1998 Leaf Rookies and Stars Crusade cards have held up well over the years. Their rarity certainly plays a big role, but the Crusade line’s iconic status among the era’s inserts is another bug contributing factor. Most of the cards have been absorbed into permanent collections now. Many cards require tremendous patience today just to find.
1998 Leaf Rookies and Stars Football Crusade Checklist
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• Purple – /100
• Red – /25
1 Brett Favre, Green Bay Packers /250
2 Dan Marino, Miami Dolphins /250
3 Emmitt Smith, Dallas Cowboys /250
4 Barry Sanders, Detroit Lions /250
5 Eddie George, Tennessee Oilers /250
6 Drew Bledsoe, New England Patriots /250
7 Troy Aikman, Dallas Cowboys /250
8 Terrell Davis, Denver Broncos /250
9 John Elway, Denver Broncos /250
10 Mark Brunell, Jacksonville Jaguars /250
11 Jerry Rice, San Francisco 49ers /250
12 Kordell Stewart, Pittsburgh Steelers /250
13 Steve McNair, Tennessee Oilers /250
14 Curtis Martin, New York Jets /250
16 Steve Young, San Francisco 49ers /250
18 Deion Sanders, Dallas Cowboys /250
22 Terrell Owens, San Francisco 49ers /250
23 Jamal Anderson, Atlanta Falcons /250
25 Jerome Bettis, Pittsburgh Steelers /250
30 Cris Carter, Minnesota Vikings /250
32 Marshall Faulk, Indianapolis Colts /250
33 Antonio Freeman, Green Bay Packers /250
40 Dorsey Levens, Green Bay Packers /250
49 Garrison Hearst, San Francisco 49ers /250
57 Warrick Dunn, Tampa Bay Buccaneers /250
59 Jake Plummer, Arizona Cardinals /250
66 Peyton Manning, Indianapolis Colts /250
69 Randy Moss, Minnesota Vikings /250
77 Fred Taylor, Jacksonville Jaguars /250
78 Robert Edwards, New England Patriots /250
1998 Leaf Rookies and Stars Football Crusade Gallery
Please note that when images of base Green versions weren’t available, Purple or Red parallels were.
Comments? Questions? Contact Ryan Cracknell on Twitter @tradercracks.