Jerry Rice Rookie Card Guide, Values & Investment Analysis

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The Joe Montana to Jerry Rice connection in the 1980s was one of the best-ever quarterback and wide receiver duos of all time.

Despite the rise of some star-studded wideouts, Rice remains the consensus #1 WR in football history.

The Jerry Rice 1986 Topps Rookie card has experienced a renewed interest among football card collectors.

Rice rookie cards in high grades have seen the biggest increase in recent years.

In this piece, we examine the career of Jerry Rice while taking a closer look at his 1986 Topps rookie card.

Rice was inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2010, alongside star Dallas Cowboy running back Emmitt Smith. 

Rice’s career accomplishments are quite simply put, amazing.

Winner of three super bowls, 13x Pro Bowl selection, regular season MVP (1987), Super Bowl MVP, 6x receiving touchdown leader…the list goes on and on. 

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1986 Topps Jerry Rice Rookie Card #161

Jerry Rice’s official rookie card is the 1986 Topps Football #161 card.  


The 1986 Topps Football cards hit the shelves during Rice’s second season with the San Francisco 49ers.

The set features green borders designed to resemble a football field.

These dark green borders are prone to chipping, making the 1986 Topps set condition sensitive. Centering issues are also quite common throughout the set. 

PSA has awarded only 60 PSA 10 (Gem Mint) Rice Rookies out of all 25,000 graded Jerry Rice cards! 

The Jerry Rice rookie card was released in 1986 following a great season for Rice. As shown on the back of the card, he was named to the Pro Football Writers and UPI’s All-Rookie Teams. 


There is one minor variation on the Jerry Rice Rookie card.  Each card in the set was printed on two different sheets. As noted by Beckett, there are four sheet variations, indicated by an A, B, C or D on the bottom of the card near the copyright. 

The Jerry Rice rookie card can be found with either a C or a D sheet notation on the bottom of the card. There is, however, no premium associated with either variation. 

Aside from Rice, the 1986 Topps Football set has some key rookie cards from the 80s, including Reggie White, Bruce Smith, Steve Young, and Andre Reed. 


A Reggie White Rookie card, one of the other key rookie cards from the 1986 Topps set

How Much Is A Jerry Rice Rookie Card Worth?

Collectors might be surprised to learn that most Jerry Rice Rookie cards sell for $100 or less.  

Anything in super high grade, however, either PSA 9 (Mint) or PSA 10 (GEM-Mint) is worth a lot more. 

jerry rice rookie card values by grade

Jerry Rice Rookie Card Values by PSA grade

Recent sales of PSA 9 Rice rookie cards have averaged $2000, while PSA 10 Rice rookies have been nearing the six-figure mark.

Jerry Rice 1986 Topps rookie card values have fallen dramatically over the past year, following a big surge in demand. 

See Our Guide To The 30 Most Valuable Football Cards Of All Time

As shown below, PSA 9 Jerry Rice rookie card prices have experienced a significant correction, falling by over 60%. 


Jerry Rice Rookie Values, PSA 9, courtesy Card Ladder

Should I Grade My Jerry Rice Rookie Card?

If you’re wondering whether or not to get your Jerry Rice rookie card graded, I advise you to examine the potential grade of the card and use our sports card grading calculator to see if its worth grading.  

In most cases, Rice Rookies are not worth grading unless the condition is super sharp and you are convinced the card will earn a PSA 9 grade at a minimum.

Remember that getting a PSA 10 on any card is nearly impossible

How Rare Is A Jerry Rice Rookie Card?

Here’s the truth: the Jerry Rice Rookie card is not rare; in fact, the existing population is enormous, both graded and ungraded. 

Here’s a look at just the number of  Jerry Rice rookie cards graded by PSA. 

** Note, look at the Population column for the number of cards graded by overall Grade.


PSA has graded over 25,000 Jerry Rice 86 Topps Rookie cards!

This does not include any ungraded or graded SGC or BGS copies, so we can only imagine what the total population might look like.

If you’re focused on finding vintage cards with low-existing card supplies, the Jerry Rice rookie card is not a great investment.

If you want to own a Rice rookie card, I say go for it. Just know that the supply is a concern, especially if the demand for his card dips at all. 

Also, note that raw, ungraded Jerry Rice rookie cards can be purchased for under $100 on eBay, even in pretty nice condition. 

Is The Jerry Rice Rookie Card A Good Investment?

Due to the vast existing graded and ungraded supply, in my opinion, Jerry Rice rookie cards are a subpar investment. 

If you want to own a Rice rookie card, I recommend targeting a PSA 9 copy (if you have the funding, of course) since only ~1000 have been awarded a 9 (Mint grade) by PSA. 

Once you dip down to a PSA 8, over 12,000 copies exist; that’s an oversupply situation that doesn’t get me very excited. 

Overall Investment Potential: 6 out of 10 

How To Spot A Fake Jerry Rice Rookie Card

Jerry Rice football card rookie reprints exist, although the ones I’ve encountered are lousy quality and relatively easy to distinguish from original cards.

Here’s an example of a Rice counterfeit that is all over eBay. You can see how the card appears to be a low-quality photocopy with a brighter back on what seems like a different textured card.

rice reprint

Jerry Rice Rookie Card Autographs, Good Investment Or Not?

Jerry Rice has been a generous signer over the course of his career.

Thus, it is not all that hard to find an autographed 1986 Topps Rice Rookie card.

PSA has graded over 500 autographed Rice rookies. 


Depending on card condition, Rice Rookie card autos are fairly reasonable. On average, expect to pay $300 to $500 for one in good overall condition

Please be aware that on eBay there are a lot of reprint/counterfeit Rice Rookies for sale with an authentic Rice autograph.

PSA will grade the reprint Jerry Rice rookie cards. Here is an example.


Note how the card has a bit more shine versus the authentic card. Thankfully, PSA does note on the slab that the card is a ‘Reprint’. 

These are real autographs, so if you just want a Jerry Rice signature, it’s not a bad collectible for under $150. But, I wouldn’t consider these reprint Rice autos as a good long term investment. 

1986 McDonald’s Jerry Rice Rookie Card – Under The Radar Value?

If you’re looking for a more obscure Jerry Rice rookie card, you should consider the 1986 McDonald’s Jerry Rice card.

mcdonald's Jerry rice

It’s not ‘technically’ considered a rookie card by collectors.

The reason? 

The cards were given away to diners at San Francisco based McDonald’s restaurants and not released via wide distribution by a major card manufacturer. 

The bottom scratch off tabs can be found in four colors (assuming they weren’t scratched off) – Blue, Green, Black and Orange. 

The cards have a fairly low PSA Population, as only 250 PSA graded copies exist. 


While PSA 10 (Gem Mint) copies are out of reach for many (easily $5000+), a PSA 9 Rice McDonald’s card is more attainable.

I like these as a long term investment for Rice collectors. 

Jerry Rice – A Legendary Wide Receiver

I was a massive fan of the San Francisco 49ers growing up, and that Rice to Montana connection was unreal.

Rice is still to this day probably the greatest wide receiver I’ve ever seen play the game.

Rice’s charisma also made him one of the most recognizable figures in sports history – even after retiring from football.

“Today I will do what others won’t, so tomorrow I can accomplish what others can’t.”

– jerry rice

Rice was a trailblazer, completely changing the script of how teams used receivers. 

As a young boy, Jerry Rice caught bricks in the air from his father, who was a bricklayer. 

The 49ers drafted Jerry Rice in the middle of the first round (spot 16) of the 1985 NFL Draft

Most fans don’t realize that he was also drafted at #1 by the Birmingham Stallions of the USFL in the same year, but the league fell apart in 1986.

Following a tremendous college career at Mississippi Valley State, Rice got off to a good (but not great) start in 1985 with the 49ers.

Yet, it was clear early on that Jerry Rice might be something special. 

Jerry Rice and Joe Montana were a magical connection. Together they led the 49ers to three Super Bowl victories.  Rice paved the way for star receivers of today who idolized Rice — guys like Deebo Samuel and Jamaar Chase.

I think those bricks were a huge part of Jerry’s success.  

Rice still holds 36 NFL records, including the most touchdowns in NFL history (208), receptions (1,549), receiving yards (22,895), and consecutive games with one catch or more (274). 

Jerry Rice Rookie Cards For Sale on eBay

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