Steve Young did not take the normal path to NFL stardom, but he is an elite quarterback all the same and a top option in the hobby. Covering different teams and football leagues, Steve Young collectors have a good mix of football card choices available to them, and some of the top options are highlighted below.
There is really no one way to make a definitive list of the top cards because collectors all have different preferences for their collections. With that in mind, the focus of this list is to showcase notable cards for Steve Young across all collecting budgets.
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Top Steve Young Football Cards to Collect
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While it may not be an official rookie card, Steve Young's very first card is still a collecting favorite. Documenting his pro debut, the Steve Young card in 1984 Topps USFL is bolstered by the overall limited print run of the product. The cards were originally issued in a 132-card set. Gem Mint copies carry a significant premium.
Certainly more subdued than his first card, the second Steve Young card is found in 1985 Topps USFL. Like the 1984 edition, 1985 Topps USFL was again released as a boxed set. While they are not nearly as valuable as the first card for Young, this simple Steve Young card is an appealing budget alternative.
1986 McDonald's Steve Young #8 (4 versions)
Part of a football set that was distributed regionally at McDonald's locations, the extensive 1986 McDonald's set features a comprehensive look at the NFL and includes one of the earliest chances for collectors to find an NFL card for Steve Young. The cards were part of a promotion that included a scratch-off section at the bottom with a perforated edge. Because the scratch-off section revealed a coupon for McDonald's food, many were scratched and removed from the card portion.
While the prices for ungraded cards aren't especially high, intact cards are the preferred option and high grades can push into the hundreds. There are actually four versions of each card, including blue, gold, black and green, that were released in waves. The blue version, which was the first set released, is the rarest.
As the official rookie for Steve Young, 1986 Topps will always hold a special place for collectors despite featuring Young with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Steve Young rookie in 1986 Topps has added significance because it is also the same set where the sole Jerry Rice rookie card is found.
While it might appear to be unimpressive on the surface, and prices remain low, 1988 Topps offers the first opportunity to collect Steve Young as a member of the San Francisco 49ers. Young would go on to spend several years on the bench behind Joe Montana, waiting for his chance to shine. The rest, as they say, is history.
Representing another first for collectors, 1991 Pro Line Portraits was ahead of the game and marked the earliest release to include an autographed card for Steve Young. The offbeat photos and the fact that many were signed on the back of the cards has softened values, but they are still a notable part of the hobby. It is also good to note that since the signed cards are virtually identical to the base cards, there have been issues with in-person autographs being presented as pack-pulled or outright forgeries. While buying versions that are authenticated is the safest route, a key element of an official autograph card is the embossed seal. Also, the signed cards do not feature the card number (#8, in Young's case) that is shown on the back of the base card.
Marking the shift in the hobby to shiny cards and limited parallels, 1994 Finest utilized both with Refractors. Young's 1994 Finest card came during his prime NFL years and the Refractor parallel presents collectors with a more premium option that is still affordable.
1996 Upper Deck was the site of the first game-used jersey cards for several elite players, including Steve Young. The simple jersey swatch is small by today's standards, but these marked the beginning of a big shift in the hobby. While the don't surface often, prices remain strong.
When you are the person picked to replace a Hall of Fame player who is not quite ready to retire, things can get messy. The 49ers were blessed to have two HOF QBs at once and each enjoyed considerable success in San Francisco. The 2000 Donruss Elite Passing the Torch insert celebrates the two men who represented the 49ers in the 1980s and 1990s. Although the print run is technically 500 copies, only the first 50 cards were signed by Joe Montana and Steve Young.
One of the earliest autographed jersey cards for Steve Young, the 2000 Upper Deck Game Jersey Autographs are hand-numbered to 175 and feature on-card signatures. Although this would become a staple of high-end releases, hard-signed autographs were they norm at this time before sticker autographs took over.
While Steve Young has plenty of signed cards available, the influx of premium products has led to a strong mix of high-end Steve Young autographs. Brands like Five Star, Flawless, National Treasures and Museum Collection offer Steve Young cards with on-card signatures, limited print runs and nice relic pieces.
Adding another wrinkle for collectors, Steve Young is frequently paired with other top players on signed cards. The most common options include his teammates on the 49ers, but he can also be found alongside other various Hall of Fame players. Current options on eBay can be seen by clicking the links.
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