John Elway‘s first Topps card — a gem of a Rookie Card that’s No. 1 in my heart and No. 63 on your checklist — arrived in 1984. Elway’s 30th Topps card wouldn’t follow until nine years later, in 1993 Topps, after the Hall of Famer had already played in three Super Bowls and earned an NFL MVP Award.
Tim Tebow‘s first Topps card arrived earlier this week with the release of 2010 Topps Football. So did his 30th.
According to preliminary checklist data confirmed by Beckett Media, Tebow appears on 30 different trading cards in 2010 Topps. That brief but brazenly bulging checklist says as much about how dramatically the industry has changed in the last 25 years as it does about the headline-harvesting wunderkind looking to become the Denver Broncos‘ next great franchise quarterback.
For perspective, consider that Tebow appears on just 10 cards in 2010 Classics, 16 in 2010 Score, 17 in 2010 Prestige and 22 in 2010 Donruss Elite. The only 2010 NFL product released so far this season to include more Tebow cards than Topps’ 30 is Rookies and Stars, which boasts a staggering 38.
Tebow’s Topps total includes 13 cards limited to 25 copies or less and five 1/1s. He has 10 autographed cards in the set (the most plentiful is numbered to 90), four memorabilia cards and one autographed memorabilia card.
In fact, the one-time Heisman Trophy winner and two-time National Champion from the University of Florida has as many cards with stuff on them in 2010 Topps (a signature, piece of event-worn memorabilia or both) as he has cards without.
But perhaps the most consequential cards in the set are the three that pair Tebow and Elway together, the industry’s first to do so. For Broncos collectors, the union is the stuff of cardboard nirvana. For the rest of the collectibles industry, it represents certain liquidity — a cash-flush combination of the NFL’s hottest rookie and one of its most valuable legends.
One copy of the card that includes autographs from both men, limited to 25 copies, sold for $265 on Friday. The one numbered out of 50 that includes memorabilia swatches from both sold that same day for $50. Interestingly, two copies of Tebow’s single-signed Rookie Premiere Autographs card (#’d out of 90), sold for $250 apiece between Thursday and Friday. And then there’s the dual-signed Red Ink Rookie Premiere Autographs card of Tebow and fellow rookie QB Colt McCoy that’s limited to just four copies and has already been bid up to $500 with still more than four days remaining in the auction.
Six products into the 2010 NFL trading card season, Tebow has 133 different trading cards, an average of 22 per product. Should that trend continue in the remaining 18 scheduled 2010 releases, he’ll end his rookie card season with a staggering 532 total cards — a number Elway didn’t achieve until early in 1995, his 12th season.
Tracy Hackler is the editorial director for Beckett Media. Have a comment or question? Send an e-mail to him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here.