BuyCollect Sell 468×60
Memory Lane Inc 200×60
Steiner 200×60
Walter Payton Football Cards, Rookie Card and Autograph Memorabilia Guide

Walter Payton

Date of Birth: 7/25/1954
Rookie Card Year: 1976
Investment Rating: 9.0


Walter Payton's autobiography is titled "Never Die Easy." The title serves as a metaphor for the way he played the game, punishing defenders before being tackled. While his life was cut tragically short due to a severe liver disease but his memory lives on through Walter Payton cards, memorabilia, videos and charitable organizations.

As a result of his early death, relatively soon after his retirement, Payton missed the post-career autograph circuit. As such, his autographed items command a premium. A willing signer while alive, his autographed memorabilia is somewhat readily available on the secondary market. Unfortunately, forged items are also plentiful.

A product of Jackson State University in Mississippi, Payton received All-American honors and was drafted by the Chicago Bears with the 4th overall pick in the 1975 NFL Draft. A nine-time Pro-Bowl selection and two-time NFL MVP, he retired as the league's career rushing leader. He was part of the remarkable Chicago Bears team of 1985-86 that won Super Bowl XX and introduced the world to the "Super Bowl Shuffle."

Walter Payton's rookie card comes from 1976 Topps Football. He did have some food issue releases from the same year, most notably the Crane Potato Chip Disc, which was a short print. Payton does have several autograph and memorabilia cards and will always be a popular draw in new football card sets.

Walter Payton Rookie Card

Population Reports current as of 11/13.

1976 Topps Football Walter Payton RC #148

1976 Topps Walter Payton

This iconic mid-1970s football card features a head and shoulders posed photograph of Walter Payton. It's fitting that he is not wearing a helmet, allowing his rookie card to display that signature smile. The white-bordered card has a yellow and green rounded frame that houses the picture. A football, in the bottom left-hand corner displays the team name with his position and name to the right. The card back uses a blue and orange color scheme.

1975 Topp Walter Payton RC BGS Population Report:
# Submitted: 2,909
Pristine 10: 2
Gem Mint 9.5: 19
Mint 9: 84

1976 Topp Walter Payton RC PSA Population Report:
# Submitted: 5,190
Gem Mint 10: 39
Mint 9: 412

Top eBay Listings
« Previous1234

Key Cards

1976 Crane Walter Payton

1976 Crane Walter Payton

This regional food issue by the Crane Potato Chip Company is widely regarded as a classic Walter Payton card. Issued in his rookie year of 1976, it's distribution and limited availability make it ineligible for rookie card status. The circular discs measure about four inches in diameter. The card stock used resembles that of a beverage coaster, combined with their shape, they were often used as such. This card, #23 in the 30-card set, is a short print.

1977 Topps Rushing Leaders Payton-Simpson #3

1977 Topps Rushing Leaders Payton-Simpson

If fans and collectors didn't know who Walter Payton was upon seeing his rookie card the previous year, they soon would. Walter Payton led the NFC in rushing as a rookie in 1976 and was paired with O.J. Simpson on the 1977 Topps Rushing Leaders card.

1991 ProLine Portraits Walter Payton #215 Autograph

1991 ProLine Portraits Walter Payton Front  1991 ProLine Portraits Walter Payton Autograph

The 1991 Proline Portraits Walter Payton autograph is first signed card. It is also one of the most commonly used cards for forgery. The cards from this set were signed on the back and have an embossed seal of certification in the lower right corner. Counterfeiters take advantage of unsuspecting customers by signing on the front and often times, brazenly submitting them for authentication. Even if certified, your safest bet is to purchase a legitimate one signed and sealed on the card's back.

1992 Upper Deck Walter Payton Heroes Autograph

1992 Upper Deck Walter Payton

Another early Payton autograph card, this one is hand-numbered to 2,800. While that may seem like a lot today, it was a pretty revolutionary concept at the time. Because of the higher print run, this is one of the more affordable Walter Payton autographs. The artistic card design and on-card autograph make it a perfect addition to any Payton or Chicago bears collection.

1997 Upper Deck Legends Autographs Walter Payton #AL4

1997 UD Legends Walter Payton AU

This classic card features a beautiful full-bleed photograph of Walter Payton in action. The 1997 Upper Deck Legends Football set features some of the greatest players to ever play the game. That, and the use of on-card signatures, has made it one of the most popular in the hobby today.

 1999 SP Authentic Autographed Jersey Walter Payton #WPSP #/34

1999 SPA Walter Payton

The 1999 SP Authentic Walter Payton card was made by Upper Deck and is one of his first game-used memorabilia cards. It features a one-inch square swatch of jersey material and an on-card autograph. It  is hand-numbered to just 34 copies.

2000 Donruss Elite Throwback Threads Walter Payton #TT3 Jersey #/100

2000 Donruss Elite Walter Payton

Many of these cards incorporated multi-color jersey swatches and patch pieces, adding a new dynamic for Payton collectors to chase. Serial numbered to 100 copies, the Throwback Threads insert set would become a staple of Donruss products for years to come.

Top eBay Listings
« Previous1234

Autographed Memorabilia

Walter Payton Autographed Memorabilia Buying Guide

Below you will find examples of what an authentic Walter Payton autograph 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, Steiner, Tristar and Mounted Memories. Click on any of the images below to view full size photos.

Walter Payton Cut Signature Exemplar

Walter Payton Cut Signature

Walter Payton Key Signature Attributes: An authentic Walter Payton signature autograph will exhibit several distinguishing characteristics. Regardless of  the type of item or when it was signed, look for the following signature features:

  1. A very unique signature written at a steep upward angle of about 60 degrees
  2. Few, if any of the letters are clearly discernible
  3. The beginning of the signature is very flamboyant and over-sized
  4. The first letter has a combination of three very distinct and different closed loops
  5. The last name has a bizarre looking "P", the pen lifts and a straight line is drawn
  6. The last letter has a significant tail following the upward angle
  7. He often would include his jersey number "34" but not always
  8. Upon request he would sign his nickname "Sweetness"

Walter Payton Signed Football Pricing:

Active Listings for Walter Payton Signed Footballs

Walter Payton signed Ball  Walter Payton official Ball  WP SteinerWP CA Sticker

Walter Payton Signed Jersey Pricing:

Active Listings for Walter Payton Signed Jerseys

Walter Payton Signed Jersey  Walter Payton Signed Jersey Close  Walter Payton Signed Jersey COA  Walter Payton Signed Jersey LOA

Walter Payton Signed Helmet Pricing (Full-size and Mini):

Active Listings for Walter Payton Signed Helmets

Walter Payton Signed helmet  Walter Payton Signed helmet close  Walter Payton Signed helmet sticker  Walter Payton Signed helmet coa

Walter Payton Signed 8x10 Photo Pricing:

Active Listings for Walter Payton Signed Photographs

Walter Payton Signed Photo  Walter Payton Signed Photo2

Top eBay Listings
« Previous1234


For general information and player statistics on Walter Payton,visit:

 |  E-Mail Author | 
Rob is a former member of The Cardboard Connection Writing Staff and co-host of Cardboard Connection Radio.He is an avid collector with over 20 years of active experience in the hobby.

Leave a Comment: