Joe Montana Rookie Card (Complete Guide to The Comeback Kid)

There’s nothing cooler than a PSA 10 Joe Montana rookie card. Who wouldn’t want The Comeback Kid in perfect condition in their collection?

Joe Montana football cards bring back great memories. As one of the all-time greats, Joe left his mark on the game of football.

Joe Montana rookie cards are shooting up the ranks as one of the most valuable cards in the hobby. Record sale prices have neared $70,000 for Gem Mint PSA 10 graded cards in just the last few years.

The Topps Joe Montana Rookie Card

Montana’s rookie card is highly valuable. In an era just before several sports card manufacturers entered the market, the 1981 Topps Joe Montana is his only rookie card to be recognized.

joe montana rookie card psa
Here it is – the all-time-worst-condition Joe Montana rookie card. But I still love it. Had it since I was a little kid. What a great card. Even if it’s a PSA negative 3 grade.

Topps Football Cards

The 1981 Topps football complete set included 528 cards, highlighted by the Walter Payton #400, Terry Bradshaw #375, and of course, the Montana rookie.

In general, the set suffered centering issues, and was notorious for print defects, making it challenging to find high-graded cards of this era.

1981 Topps Joe Montana Rookie Card

The 1981 Joe Montana Topps Rookie Card #216 is a highly prized card as it’s the one and only Joe Montana rookie.

There are well over 100 PSA 10-graded Montana cards out there. Still, a perfect PSA gem mint 10 is worth $40,000 to $50,000, with the highest sale of a PSA 10 Montana rookie on record rang in at $85,000.

1981 topps joe montana rookie card
1981 Joe Montana Topps Rookie Card #216

Joe Montana Rookie Card Values

PSA 10 Joe Montana 1981 Topps rookie card value – $50,000

PSA 9 Mint Joe Montana 1981 Topps rookie card value – $12,500

PSA 8 NM-MT Joe Montana 1981 Topps rookie card value – $300

most valuable joe montana football cards
Most Valuable Joe Montana Football Cards

PSA 6 1981 Topps Joe Montana RC value – $50

BGS 9.5 Joe Montana 1981 Topps rookie card value – $4,500

BGS 8.5 Joe Montana 1981 Topps rookie card value – $1,200

SGC 7.5 Near Mint Topps #216 Joe Montana rookie RC card value$800

1981 topps joe montana rookie card psa 10
Joe Montana San Francisco 49ers RC PSA 10

Other Great Joe Montana Football Cards

1992 Topps Joe Montana Card

Another highly valued Joe Montana card is the 1982 Topps Joe Montana #488 card, which features Montana taking a call from the booth without a helmet.

While it’s not a Joe Montana rookie, it’s one of the great trading cards from the early 80s era.

A high-grade Topps card is valued at nearly $900.

1982 Topps Montana #488
1982 Topps Joe Montana #488

1991 Upper Deck Joe Montana Heroes

The 1991 Upper Deck Heroes Joe Montana #9 Autograph is a hot card. The low population (2,500) card set featured four different Montana images.

These graded PSA cards in mint condition are valued at around $1,600, depending on the condition of the signature.

1991 Upper Deck Joe Montana Heroes
1991 Upper Deck Joe Montana Heroes

1996 Upper Deck Game Jersey Joe Montana

There are also the 1996 Upper Deck Game Jersey Joe Montana cards. As the first relic cards in the hobby, a Joe Montana has 1 in 2,500 odds of appearing in a pack of 10 cards. These cards are valued at around $300.

1996 Upper Deck Game Jersey Montana
1996 Upper Deck Game Jersey Joe Montana

1990 Pro Set Joe Montana

Another great Joe Montana card is the 1990 Pro Set card. The highest PSA 10-graded card is valued at $100.

Warning – this is not a rare card. I think I might own 45 of these Montana Pro Set cards in a shoebox somewhere. Still a great card, nonetheless.

joe montana pro set
1990 Pro Set Joe Montana

There are also versions with a printing error containing Jim Kelly’s stats instead of Montana’s.

Finally, the 1990 Joe Montana Pro Set Super Bowl XVI MVP Card #16 is a rare find. A gem mint card is valued at close to $300.

Joe Montana HOF 2018 Panini Flawless – Patch and Autograph

Joe Montana HOF 2018 Panini Flawless - Patch and Autograph
Another epic Montana card. Valued at over $2,000.

Joe Montana 2021 Panini Prizm Flashback Gold Parallel Autograph 

Joe Montana 2021 Panini Prizm Flashback Gold Parallel Autograph
How cool is this card? Selling on eBay for around $1,200.

Joe Montana 2016 Panini Donruss 

Joe Montana 2016 Panini Donruss 
So cool – the throwback Donruss red layout with those Niner uniforms. This card might be one of my favorite Montana’s.

1991 Fleer Joe Montana #360

1991 Fleer Joe Montana #360

2010 Joe Montana Topps Opti-Chrome Reprint #216

2010 Joe Montana Topps Opti-Chrome Reprint #216
Joe Cool on the Topps Chrome re-print. I love it.

Joe Montana Autographed Memorabilia

There are dozens of autographed and game-used Joe Montana memorabilia on eBay, but I wouldn’t recommend buying. Call me skeptical, but with autographs; I always assume it’s fake unless I see the player sign with my own two eyes.

Suppose you really need to have that autograph, and Joe Montana isn’t available for a personal signing. In that case, you can purchase certified autographs that have at least a chance of being authentic.

Do what you must do; just be careful out there paying big money for autographed sports memorabilia and game-used merch.

Joe Montana Autographed Memorabilia
Joe Montana autographed Niners helmet – Selling for $450.

Joe Montana’s Early Years

On June 11, 1956, Joe Montana was born in New Eagle, Pennsylvania. As a child, Montana showed interest in sports, specifically football, baseball, and basketball.

While attending Ringgold High School, Montana was an all-state basketball player and won a basketball scholarship with North Carolina State. He would decline the offer.

During his junior year of high school, Montana earned the attention of college recruiters and accepted a scholarship to Notre Dame.

Montana had a fantastic college career with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, helping them win a National Championship in 1977. Despite his performance, Montana was not highly rated by the NFL football scouts.

An interview with The Comeback Kid and great color action footage from his days with the Fighting Irish.

NFL Career

In the 1979 NFL Draft, Montana was selected at the end of the third round by the San Francisco 49ers.

In Joe Montana’s rookie season, he got little playing time in 1979. He spent most of his first season in the NFL as a backup.

It wasn’t until 1981 that Montana began as the starting quarterback and helped the 49ers with their most successful season up to that point. 

Joe Cool, The Comeback Kid

Joe Montana, AKA “Joe Cool” and “The Comeback Kid,” is a former NFL quarterback who played with the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs for 16 seasons from 1979 to 1994.

Among the several accolades and records he set in the NFL, he won four Super Bowls and was the first player to be named Super Bowl MVP three times.

joe montana career stats
Joe Montana Career Highlights

He was an eight selected to the Pro Bowl eight times and was nominated to the All-Pro games six times. Joe was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in the year 2000. 

Montana is known for remaining calm under pressure and helping teams with clutch victories.

Joe Cool, the Clutch Performer

The victory of the Chicago Bears in Soldier Field was especially notable, as they played in 17-degree conditions with strong winds. Montana threw a sideline pass to Jerry Rice, who took it for a 61-yard score.

They would win 28-3, advancing to the Super Bowl, where Montana would have one of the best performances of his career.

He would win the NFL Most Valuable Player Award and the Super Bowl MVP for the third time.

Just Joe being Joe. The Comeback Kid does it again. Joe Montana was always finding a way to pull out a victory in the last minutes.

The following season in 1990 would be another excellent season for Montana. Still, the 49ers would ultimately lose to the New York Giants in the NFC Championship Game.

Montana would miss the entire 1991 season and most of the 1992 season due to a sustained elbow injury.

For better or for worse, Steve Young would establish himself as the starting quarterback, and Montana ultimately requested a trade. 

San Francisco 49ers (1979-1992)

The SF 49ers faced the Dallas Cowboys in the National Football Conference Championship Game.

In this series, Montana led one of the most notable plays in NFL history, which would later be known as The Catch.

With 4:54 left in play, Dallas was leading 27-21. Defying all odds, Montana drove the team down and helped the 49ers win with a last-second pass to wide receiver Dwight Clark, putting SF into Super Bowl XVI.

The 49ers became World Champions. The win against the Cincinnati Bengals earned Montana the Super Bowl MVP for his performance. 

In 1984, the 49ers became the first team to get 15 wins in the 1984 NFL season. Montana would have another great season and helped the 49ers win Super Bowl XIX, against the Miami Dolphins. The legend was born.

Just as Joe Montana was preparing to lead his team to a last-minute super bowl winning drive down the field, he noticed his teammate was a little uptight.

To calm the nerves of his lineman, Joe Cool calmly pointed out John Candy watching the game on the sidelines. These are the things legends are remembered for. True leadership and clutch performances when the steaks are the highest.

Joe Montana’s Super Bowl Records

He threw for a Super Bowl record most yards passing in a single game and earned his second Super Bowl MVP award.

In 1986, Montana suffered a terrible back injury that almost resulted in retirement.

Despite the injury, he was one of the best quarterbacks in the league and earned the NFLs Comeback Player of the Year Award.

1988-1989 was another season highlighting Montana’s stellar performance as a starting quarterback.

The 49ers faced the Cincinnati Bengals again in Super Bowl XXIII after stellar performances against the Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears.

Kansas City Chiefs (1993-1994)

Joe Cool was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs in 1993. While injured for part of the 1993 season, he was still selected to his final Pro Bowl, leading the Chiefs to win their division for the first time in 22 years.

They eventually lost to the Buffalo Bills, but the Montana-led Chiefs won 13 games, tying the franchise record for wins in a season.

joe montana beckett
For all of you old-school sports fans, how strange was it to see Joe Montana wearing a Kansas City Chiefs uniform on the cover of Beckett Football Cards Monthly back in July of 1993?

Joe Cool Retires from the NFL

Montana announced his retirement on April 18, 1995, saying that he felt it was the right time. Joe Montana would pave the way for a new era of quarterbacks, including Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and Drew Brees.

After retiring from the NFL, Montana has become a successful businessman.

He and his business partners serve as angel investors, and Montana is also a wine producer with the Montana label.

Joe Montana Rookie Card and The Comeback Kid

Out of the many stand-out quarterbacks over the 1980s and 90s, there’s none like Joe Montana. Terry Bradshaw, Brett Favre, John Elway, and Dan Marino were stars, but Montana stood above them all.

Joe Montana is one of the NFL’s greatest quarterbacks in history.

Known for his ability to remain calm under intense pressure, his accomplishments and legacy will continue to carry over to the value of his sports cards.

For baseball cards, hockey, basketball, and football card collectors, it’s hard to argue against adding a Joe Montana rookie card to your stache.

joe montana rookie card
Here’s one more shot of the world-famous “Joe Montana PSA Negative 3 Rookie Card.” Before you start begging me to sell – no, this one is not for sale.
joe montana cards worth money
1986 Topps Passing Leaders #225
1984 Topps #358

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