1965 Topps Joe Namath Rookie Card: A Closer Look

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Joe Namath is one of the most famous quarterbacks in NFL history. He was a quarterback for the New York Jets and played college football at Alabama. His career lasted from 1965 to 1977, before he retired due to health issues.

Namath’s 1965 Topps Football card is his rookie card and one of the most iconic and valuable cards in the hobby. Mint condition copies have sold for over $200,000 as vintage collectors continue to gravitate to the cards of ‘Broadway Joe’.

As follows, we’ll examine the population reports for Namath’s rookie card, current values, and take a look at his career, while providing thoughts on the future investment value for the card.

Joe Namath As A Player

Joseph William Namath was born on May 31st, 1943 in Beaver Falls Pennsylvania. His family moved to Alabama when he was two years old where they would live until Joe graduated from high school at age 18.

At Alabama High School, Joe excelled as a quarterback with all-state honors during three consecutive seasons while leading his team to three straight state championships (1958-1960). He then went onto play for Bear Bryant at Alabama University, leading the team to a 29–4 record over three seasons, while winning one Championship. 

“There always seemed to be something magical about Joe Namath, a rebel at a time when the country appreciated one. He was cocky, but in a likable way. The image of the swinging bachelor as much as his rocket-like arm helped make him the most glorified football player of his time. He was Broadway Joe, the guy who guaranteed a Super Bowl victory for a three-touchdown underdog New York Jets team – and then delivered.”

Sportswriter Larry Schwartz of ESPN in Namath was lovable rogue

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Namath played the bulk of his 13 year career with the New York Jets (he closed his career with a one year stint with the Rams) and still holds many Jets records to this day, including the most passing yards and touchdowns for a QB.

Namath is well known as one of the all time QB greats, but he is also known for his charisma and larger than life personality off the field. Namath even spent some time during and post-career as an actor and has appeared in many TV shows and movies, including cameos in The Brady Bunch and Alf!


Overall, when it comes to All-Time QB rankings, Namath isn’t necessarily up there in the top tier with the likes of Brady, Montana, Favre or Manning. But he’s certainly in the Top 25 discussion.

Injuries were certainly a huge part of Namath’s outside ranking; note that he only played more than 12 games in 8 out of his 13 professional seasons. Thus, who knows what might have been had Namath had a chance to compete without the numerous knee and other ailments that he experienced?

Namath was elected to the Pro Football Hall Of Fame in 1985, formally putting his football legacy into the history books. 

A Look At The Front And Back Of Namath’s Rookie Card

The front of the Joe Namath rookie card features ‘Broadway Joe’ in a throwing pose, with that classic stare that made him one of the most feared QB’s in the league.

The 1965 Topps Football cards are oversized issues (2 1/2″ by 4 11/16″) and commonly referred to as ‘tall boys’ throughout collecting circles.  

It was the only football issue that Topps would create in this ‘tall-boy’ size, however they would bring the larger card sizes to their basketball production, starting with the 1969 Topps Basketball set

One notable on the 1965 Topps cards is that each team has the same color background. Also, the Namath card is known for having a ‘butterfly variation’ – a printing flaw that produced a butterfly looking mark on his left hand. While it is harder to find, I haven’t proven that the butterfly print cards sell for any premium versus the ‘non-butterfly’ version. 


1965 Topps Joe Namath rookie card – ‘Butterfly variation’

The back of the Namath rookie card (#122) features a short biography from Topps discussing the fact that Namath got a ‘large bundle of cash’ from the Jets. In fact, when Namath was signed out of Alabama, the Jets gave him a three year contract for $427,000, the highest salary ever at the time in the NFL


How Much Is A Joe Namath Rookie Card Worth?

Joe Namath’s official rookie card is his 1965 Topps #122 card.  No Namath rookie cards have garnered a PSA 10 (Gem-Mint) grade, however a  mint copy of the card (PSA 9) is worth on average between $200,000 to $300,000. 

Lower graded copies can be found for less, yet even a Poor copy Namath rookie card sells for over $2000.  The biggest jump in price (in mid to higher grades) is at the Near Mint (PSA 7) level where recent sales have taken place at around $15,000, more than double the value of a Excellent-Mint (PSA 6) copy. 


What Is The Current Graded Population For Joe Namath’s Rookie Card?

In total, PSA has graded nearly 1800 copies of Namath’s rookie card.  Note that this number doesn’t even include any graded copies from Beckett or SGC or the existing raw (ungraded population).

As shown in the chart below, PSA has only graded 5 Mint (or PSA 9) copies of Namath’s rookie card, which is one of the reasons the card is worth over $200K.

PSA 8’s are easier but still a tough find, with less than 80 graded by PSA. We can see from the chart below that there are more than 1000 Namath rookie cards that have been graded in the PSA 3 to PSA 7 range. 


How Much Is An Autographed Joe Namath Rookie Card Worth?

On average, recent sales of autographed Joe Namath rookie cards have ranged from $2500 (for lower condition cards) all the way up to $10,000 for nice autos on higher grade cards. However, this certainly depends on the quality of the autograph. Typically a card signed in ball point pen won’t garner the same sort of premium as one signed clearly with a sharpie.  


An authentic Namath rookie autograph.

Autographed rookie card premiums can vary on any card, and really, it comes down to finding a buyer that would prefer the card with the autograph.

Based on my research, autographed Namath rookies do earn a premium, but it tends to be small, around 10-15% over the base value of the rookie card.

What’s The Investment Potential?

Many say that Namath’s stats don’t hold up versus someone like the GOAT (Tom Brady), but others argue that Namath in his prime was one of the best to ever play the game.  (Note even Namath himself says Brady is the best of all time)

Longevity goes a long way in the lasting success and notoriety of any player, and unfortunately, Namath’s career was plagued with injuries. However, when we consider the ‘Star’ factor or Namath, both from a personality and player perspective, he has all the bases covered.

Thus, I do believe that the legend of ‘Joe Willie’ will remain strong and that his rookie card should continue to appreciate in value over time. 

His ’65 Topps rookie card isn’t rare, but I expect demand to remain high, especially for those cards in higher grades. For collectors on a budget looking to own a Namath rookie card, I think a VG copy (PSA 3) would be a solid option; on average, expect to pay between $2500 to $3000.  

Joe Namath Rookie Cards For Sale on eBay

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