Rookie Card Year: 1984
Investment Rating: 6.5
Jim Kelly was a terrific quarterback in both the USFL and NFL. He helped lead the small-market Buffalo Bills to four consecutive Super Bowls in the early 1990s. Unfortunately, all of his Super Bowl appearances were losses for the Bills and, despite Kelly's stellar career, his mainstream reputation is mostly associated with those losses. Kelly was named to four Pro Bowls over his 11 NFL seasons and was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2002. To this day, Jim Kelly cards remain popular among collectors.
Although he was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in the 1983 NFL Draft, Kelly decided to sign with the Houston Gamblers of the USFL. Therefore, Kelly's first rookie card was included in the 1984 Topps USFL set. This remains one of the top Jim Kelly cards. Due to it's lower production run and the roster of players included, collectors have shown great interest in the product. Joining Kelly in the USFL set were fellow rookies Steve Young, Herschel Walker and Reggie White. Kelly made his NFL card debut in 1987 Topps Football after joining the Bills, who retained his NFL rights.
Jim Kelly is a typical name included in the "greatest to never win a Super Bowl" discussion. Because of this perceived failure, Kelly has limited hobby value, despite his Hall of Fame production. The University of Miami alumnus is not even the top option from the 1983 NFL Draft, falling in behind John Elway and Dan Marino, another great player that was unable to claim a Super Bowl win. Although he was a great player and is revered in the Buffalo area, Kelly is not a player to invest in expecting sizable gains. Despite this, Jim Kelly cards make a great addition to any football collection and should maintain solid value over time.
Jim Kelly Rookie Card Checklist
Technically not a true NFL rookie card, the 1984 Topps USFL Jim Kelly is still the top option for collectors. The patriotic-themed card shows an action shot of Kelly and sheds light on an interesting time in the history of football when top talent still joined the NFL's competition. This will always be considered one of the best Jim Kelly cards.
1987 Topps Football showcases Kelly's first official NFL rookie card and features a simple design. The card can be found online for as little as just a few bucks and as much as $20-30 for one in mint condition.
1984 Topps USFL Jim Kelly XRC RC PSA 7 #36 - Nice Corners
1984 Topps USFL Jim Kelly XRC RC PSA 8 #36
1987 Topps Football Jim Kelly ROOKIE RC #362 BGS 6 GEM MINT
1984 Topps USFL Jim Kelly XRC RC PSA 9 OC #36
Jim Kelly Autographed Memorabilia Buying Guide
Below you will find an example of what Jim Kelly's authentic signature looks like. This can be used as a first point of reference for determining the legitimacy of autograph memorabilia, but is not a substitute for having your items authenticated by a well-respected professional autograph authentication company. Some of the trusted sources within the sports memorabilia market include the following companies: PSA, JSA, Tristar, Upper Deck Authentic and Mounted Memories. Click on any of the images below to view full size photos.
Jim Kelly Cut Signature Exemplar
Jim Kelly Key Signature Attributes: An authentic Jim Kelly signature autograph will exhibit several distinguishing characteristics. Regardless of the type of item signed or when in his career, look for these signature characteristics:
Jim Kelly Signature Characteristics
- The signature is written on a slightly elevated plane of about 15 degrees.
- The letter "J" is legible and pronounced, no other letters of the first name are present.
- The pen lifts to start the letter "K" which is roughly of equal size to the "J."
- The "K" contains two lines, the first is slightly curved with a small curl at the top; the second creates a small loop and forms the up and down strokes of the "K."
- The letter's "e-l-l" look nearly identical, as small cursive "e"'s with open loops.
- The letter "y" is implied by the down stroke off of the second ""l" and a small line to the left.
- The last name is "underlined" with a fish hook shaped line.
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