Jerry Rice is the greatest receiver in NFL history and arguably one of the top football players of all-time. He currently holds most of the NFL receiving records and although he played for multiple teams near the end of his career, he will always be thought of as a member of the San Francisco 49ers. Tremendous individual success and team success with the 49ers have made Jerry Rice cards some of the best collecting options among retired football players.
With a playing career that began in 1985 and stretched out to 2005, Jerry Rice has plenty of card options to collect. However, since that includes the "junk wax era" of the late-'80s and early-'90s, many of the top Jerry Rice cards came at the onset of his career and well after it ended.
The following list takes a look at some of the best Jerry Rice cards available.
Let us know in the comments if you have any other favorites.
Top Jerry Rice Football Cards
Bolded links go directly to detailed set or player profiles.
1986 Topps Jerry Rice RC #161
The oldest and most valuable Jerry Rice card is his only official rookie card. The 1986 Topps card design may not wow anyone, but centering issues make Mint and Gem Mint copies a premium collectible. Despite that, there is still a decent supply available, so ungraded copies can be found for reasonable amounts.
1986 McDonald's SF 49ers Jerry Rice
Although not as popular as the 1986 Topps, another Jerry Rice card was issued in 1986. These McDonald’s cards represent an additional opportunity for collectors to grab an early, albeit oddball, Jerry Rice card. The full set includes 24 cards, and McDonald’s locations in the San Francisco area released them over multiple weeks.
There are actually four different versions, each with a different color removable scratch-off tab. The tabs could be scratched to reveal various prizes. Blue tabs were distributed first, then black, gold, and lastly, green. Top value is reserved for the still-intact versions and blue is the toughest to find unripped since it was the first to release.
1987 Topps Jerry Rice #115
The difference between the 1986 and 1987 Topps design is monumental and this is not necessarily a bad thing. The '87 style relies heavily on a white border and a split text box at the top. Budget collectors can easily find this early Jerry Rice card on the cheap.
1997 Metal Universe PMG Precious Metal Gems Jerry Rice #84 #/150
The Precious Metal Gems (PMG) cards were a late-'90s staple and remain very popular. The most iconic of the bunch is the 1997 edition numbered to 150 with condition-sensitive foil. Joining the red foil is the elusive emerald green version that represents 10% of the print run (15 copies).
The next year, in 1998 Metal Universe, the design was a little more elaborate and the print run dropped to 50 copies.
1999 Metal Universe is also a popular PMG destination. The card includes a metal nameplate, rivets and Refractor-like finish. These rare parallels are numbered to just 50 copies.
1999 SP Signature Player's Ink Jerry Rice #JR-A Autograph
Although Jerry Rice was included in the Player's Ink insert set in 1998, the 1999 SP edition has a more classic look. The base green version is the most common and a purple-bordered parallel is hand-numbered to 100. Both cards feature an on-card signature from Jerry Rice.
1999 Topps Stadium Club Co-Signers Randy Moss, Jerry Rice #CS5 Dual Autograph
When talking about the best wide receivers in history, it is safe to assume that Jerry Rice and Randy Moss would be at the top of many lists. The two legends combined for the Co-Signers insert in 1999 Stadium Club.
The duo also teamed up for Passing the Torch in 2000 Donruss Elite. Although numbered to 150 copies, only the first 50 cards are signed.
2002 Topps Ring of Honor Jerry Rice #RH-JR Autograph
Paying tribute to Rice's Super Bowl XXIII MVP Award, the 2002 Topps Ring of Honor autograph is another popular on-card option.
2009-10 Exquisite Rookie Patch Jerry Rice #78L Autograph Patch #/25
Part of Upper Deck's 2009-10 Exquisite Collection Basketball release, the Exquisite Rookie Patch Flashback line highlights all-time great from multiple sports. This low-numbered Jerry Rice card showcases his college days at Mississipi Valley State.
2011 Upper Deck College Legends Autograph Jerry Rice #21
Another collegiate option, this Jerry Rice Upper Deck Legends revival is an impressive card. With the famed UD Legends design and on-card signature, the card is bumped to the next level because it is a short print. While the card is not numbered, Upper Deck revealed that Rice is part of the Group A subset, which drops 1:1,087 packs.
If the college jersey is a deal-breaker and money is not an issue, there is an NFL-licensed update version for Rice from 2008 Ultimate Collection, but these are even more limited and pricey.
49ers Multi-Player Jerry Rice Autograph Cards
Jerry Rice enjoyed the opportunity to catch passes from not just one, but two Hall of Fame quarterbacks during his 49ers career. He has signed cards with various 49ers teammates over the years, including Joe Montana, Steve Young and Roger Craig.
Any High-End Jerry Rice Autograph
The hobby shift to high-end has largely been a good thing for collectors that enjoy a variety of premium cards with low print runs and on-card autographs. Jerry Rice has signed for many sets in recent years, including Flawless, Immaculate Collection and National Treasures.