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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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:
- A very unique signature written at a steep upward angle of about 60 degrees
- Few, if any of the letters are clearly discernible
- The beginning of the signature is very flamboyant and over-sized
- The first letter has a combination of three very distinct and different closed loops
- The last name has a bizarre looking "P", the pen lifts and a straight line is drawn
- The last letter has a significant tail following the upward angle
- He often would include his jersey number "34" but not always
- Upon request he would sign his nickname "Sweetness"
Walter Payton Signed Football Pricing:
Walter Payton Signed Jersey Pricing:
Walter Payton Signed Helmet Pricing (Full-size and Mini):
Walter Payton Signed 8x10 Photo Pricing:
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