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Comprehensive Guide to Upper Deck Legends Autographs

Comprehensive Guide to Upper Deck Legends Autographs


When talking about the greatest autograph sets in the history of collecting, most in the hobby have a few favorites. One set that has emerged as a frontrunner is the main autograph set in 1997 Upper Deck Legends Football. Well ahead of the curve, the set basically amounted to a partial autographed base parallel. As the name indicates, the Upper Deck Legends product covered some of the biggest former greats in football history and the checklist is filled with plenty of Hall of Fame talent.

The timeless design is both simple and refined. Beautiful player images compose 80% of the card, with a small shaded text box featuring a black-and-white image and the player's name and position at the bottom. All autographs are signed on-card.

Comprehensive Guide to Upper Deck Legends Autographs 1Comprehensive Guide to Upper Deck Legends Autographs 2

Further adding to the appeal of the product, the cards were pulled around one in five packs, or four per hobby box. Despite this frequency, collectors soon realized that multiple cards were considerably more rare than others. As time has passed, 18 cards have been identified as short prints (SP). Most of the SPs fall in the beginning of the checklist. Also, the cards for five players were inserted into packs as redemptions, but they never returned their signed cards to Upper Deck. Therefore, these autographed cards were never officially issued by Upper Deck. The SPs and redemption cards are noted on the checklist found on the next tab.

Like most things in the hobby, popularity normally leads to increased monetary value, which unfortunately can result in counterfeits. Because the autographed cards were essentially signed base cards, it was far too easy to have them signed in-person or simply forged. With dealing with the more valuable cards, especially the short prints, the safest route is to buy professionally graded cards to ensure authenticity.

That does not mean that raw cards are not worthwhile, just make sure you do your homework. The most obvious difference is the card back, which can be seen above. The autographs also feature a specific prefix (AL-) which helps distinguish them from the base numbering. For those that prefer the thrill of the hunt, sealed boxes are in much shorter supply and quite expensive, but it is not impossible to track them down. View current 1997 UD Legends Football boxes on eBay here.

Buoyed by the success of Upper Deck Legends Autographs and other signed sets, autographed cards would become the driving force of the collecting industry. Nearly a decade after their release, Upper Deck included an update using the same design and continuing the numbering from the original run. The cards were found in 2008 Ultimate Collection Football and included some of the bigger current names from the time when the original set was released. Because it centered on legends, star players at the time, like Jerry Rice and Barry Sanders, were not included in 1997. This was remedied in 2008 and again in 2009 Ultimate Collection Football. In both releases, the cards were found about one per case.

Although Upper Deck lost their football license soon after, they brought the design back in 2011 Upper Deck College Legends. The updated insert features the same design but includes college images and uniforms. Just like in 1997, there are un-signed base versions. The Legends autographs continues in football with a college theme in 2013 Ultimate Collection Football.

Not just limited to football, the design was also revived for inclusion in hockey and basketball. The hockey edition is NHL-licensed, and is found in 2011-12 Ultimate Collection Hockey, 2012-13 The Cup and 2013-14 Ultimate Collection. The basketball version is college-themed. Instead of following the original design, the 2010-11 Ultimate Collection Basketball version uses an image of a basketball in place of the small player image that was previously found at the bottom of the card.

Full checklists for all the Upper Deck Legends sets can be found above using the corresponding tabs. Also, we have included a real-time list of the top-watched UD Legends on eBay on the last tab.


1997 Upper Deck Legends Football Autographs

Short prints (SP) are noted below. Cards with an asterisk (*) were available as redemptions, but were never issued because signed cards were not returned to Upper Deck.

Autograph parallels are found 1:5 packs, or four per hobby box, on average.

Comprehensive Guide to Upper Deck Legends Autographs 3

AL1 Bart Starr SP
AL2 Jim Brown SP
AL3 Joe Namath SP
AL4 Walter Payton SP
AL5 Terry Bradshaw SP
AL6 Franco Harris SP
AL7 Dan Fouts
AL8 Steve Largent
AL9 Johnny Unitas SP
AL10 Gale Sayers
AL11 Roger Staubach
AL12 Tony Dorsett SP
AL13 Fran Tarkenton
AL14 Charley Taylor
AL15 Ray Nitschke
AL16 Jim Ringo
AL17 Dick Butkus SP
AL18 Fred Biletnikoff
AL19 Lenny Moore
AL20 Len Dawson
AL21 Lance Alworth SP
AL22 Chuck Bednarik
AL23 Raymond Berry
AL24 Donnie Shell
AL25 Mel Blount
AL26 Willie Brown
AL27 Ken Houston
AL28 Larry Csonka SP
AL29 Mike Ditka
AL30 Art Donovan
AL31 Sam Huff
AL32 Lem Barney
AL33 Hugh McElhenny
AL34 Otto Graham
AL35 Joe Greene SP
AL36 Mike Rozier
AL37 Lou Groza
AL38 Ted Hendricks
AL39 Elroy Hirsch
AL40 Paul Hornung
AL41 Charlie Joiner
AL42 Deacon Jones
AL43 Bill Bradley
AL44 Floyd Little
AL45 Willie Lanier
AL46 Bob Lilly
AL47 Sid Luckman*
AL48 John Mackey
AL49 Don Maynard
AL50 Mike McCormack
AL51 Bobby Mitchell
AL52 Ron Mix
AL53 Marion Motley
AL54 Leo Nomellini
AL55 Mark Duper
AL56 Mel Renfro
AL57 Jim Otto
AL58 Alan Page
AL59 Joe Perry
AL60 Andy Robustelli
AL61 Lee Roy Selmon
AL62 Jackie Smith
AL63 Art Shell SP
AL64 Jan Stenerud
AL65 Gene Upshaw
AL66 Y.A. Tittle
AL67 Paul Warfield
AL68 Kellen Winslow
AL69 Randy White
AL70 Larry Wilson
AL71 Willie Wood*
AL72 Jack Ham
AL73 Jack Youngblood
AL74 Danny Abramowicz
AL75 Dick Anderson
AL76 Ken Anderson
AL77 Steve Bartkowski
AL78 Bill Bergey
AL79 Rocky Bleier
AL80 Cliff Branch
AL81 John Brodie
AL82 Bobby Bell
AL83 Billy Cannon SP
AL84 Gino Cappelletti
AL85 Harold Carmichael
AL86 Dave Casper
AL87 Wes Chandler
AL88 Todd Christensen
AL89 Dwight Clark
AL90 Mark Clayton
AL91 Cris Collinsworth
AL92 Roger Craig
AL93 Randy Cross
AL94 Isaac Curtis
AL95 Mike Curtis
AL96 Ben Davidson
AL97 Fred Dean*
AL98 Tom Dempsey
AL99 Eric Dickerson
AL100 Lynn Dickey
AL102 Carl Eller
AL103 Chuck Foreman
AL104 Russ Francis SP
AL106 Gary Garrison
AL107 Randy Gradishar
AL108 L.C. Greenwood
AL109 Rosey Grier
AL110 Steve Grogan
AL111 Ray Guy
AL112 John Hadl
AL113 Jim Hart
AL115 Mike Haynes
AL116 Charlie Hennigan
AL117 Chuck Howley
AL118 Harold Jackson
AL119 Tom Jackson
AL120 Ron Jaworski
AL121 John Jefferson
AL122 Billy Johnson*
AL123 Ed Too Tall Jones
AL124 Jack Kemp
AL125 Jim Kiick
AL126 Billy Kilmer
AL127 Jerry Kramer
AL128 Paul Krause
AL129 Daryle Lamonica
AL131 James Lofton
AL133 Archie Manning
AL134 Jim Marshall
AL135 Harvey Martin
AL136 Tommy McDonald
AL137 Max McGee
AL138 Reggie McKenzie
AL139 Karl Mecklenburg
AL141 Terry Metcalf
AL142 Matt Millen SP
AL143 Earl Morrall
AL144 Mercury Morris
AL146 Joe Morris
AL147 Mark Moseley
AL148 Haven Moses
AL149 Chuck Muncie
AL150 Anthony Munoz
AL151 Tommy Nobis
AL152 Babe Parilli
AL153 Drew Pearson
AL154 Ozzie Newsome
AL155 Jim Plunkett
AL156 William Perry
AL157 Johnny Robinson
AL158 Ahmad Rashad
AL159 George Rogers
AL160 Sterling Sharpe
AL161 Billy Sims
AL163 Mike Singletary
AL164 Charlie Sanders
AL165 Bubba Smith SP
AL166 Ken Stabler
AL167 Freddie Solomon
AL168 John Stallworth
AL169 Dwight Stephenson
AL172 Lionel Taylor
AL173 Otis Taylor SP
AL174 Joe Theismann
AL175 Bob Trumpy*
AL176 Mike Webster SP
AL177 Jim Zorn
AL178 Joe Montana

2008 Ultimate Collection - 1997 Upper Deck Legends Update

Short prints (SP) are noted below. These autographed inserts are found one per case, on average.

Comprehensive Guide to Upper Deck Legends Autographs 4

179 Steve Young
180 Emmitt Smith SP
181 Barry Sanders
182 Brett Favre SP
183 Rod Woodson
184 Jerry Rice SP
185 Jim Kelly
186 Troy Aikman
187 John Elway
189 Daryl Johnston SP
191 Marshall Faulk
193 Bo Jackson
194 Tom Rathman
195 Brian Bosworth

2009 Ultimate Collection - 1997 Upper Deck Legends Update

These autographed inserts are found one per case, on average. Also, there are printing plate parallels (cyan, black, magenta, yellow), numbered 1/1.

Comprehensive Guide to Upper Deck Legends Autographs 5

196 Bruce Smith
197 Tim Brown
198 Dan Marino
200 Darrell Green
201 Phil Simms
202 Lawrence Taylor - Redemption
204 Harry Carson
205 Merlin Olsen
206 Earl Campbell
207 Randall Cunningham
208 Warren Moon
211 Doug Flutie
212 Drew Bledsoe
213 Herman Moore
214 Andre Reed
215 Mike Alstott
216 Christian Okoye

2011 Upper Deck College Football Legends Base Autographs

The short print (SP) information is much more detailed in 2011 UD College Football Legends and the numbering starts over. The full breakdown by grouping can be seen below.

Individual Odds: Group A - 1:1,087 packs, Group B - 1:252 packs, Group C - 1:72 packs, Group D - 1:33 packs, Group E - 1:11 packs

Comprehensive Guide to Upper Deck Legends Autographs 6

1 Keith Jackson E
2 Tommy McDonald E
3 Willie Buchanon D
4 Ron Yary E
5 Tony Casillas E
6 Steve Young B
7 Jason White E
8 Daryl Johnston E
9 Troy Aikman A
10 Raghib Ismail D
12 Roman Gabriel E
13 Bob Griese B
14 Alan Page E
15 Mike Alstott E
16 Craig Morton E
17 Bo Jackson C
18 John Elway A
19 Paul Hornung D
20 Greg Pruitt E
21 Jerry Rice A
23 George Rogers E
24 Lee Roy Jordan E
25 Doug Flutie B
26 Tim Brown B
27 Barry Sanders B
28 Jim Kelly B
29 Kellen Winslow Sr. C
30 Bernie Kosar B
31 John Cappelletti E
32 Roger Craig E
33 Rocky Bleier E
34 Floyd Little E
35 Brian Bosworth D
36 Charles White D
37 Earl Campbell B
38 Mike Singletary C
39 Thurman Thomas B
40 Eddie George B
41 Danny Wuerffel C
42 Billy Cannon C
43 Rod Woodson A
44 Dave Caer C
45 Ozzie Newsome C
46 Archie Griffin B
48 Chris Spielman C
49 Antonio Freeman D
50 Tony Mandarich C
51 Daryle Lamonica C
52 Herman Moore D
53 Cris Carter C
54 Dwight Stephenson C
55 Ken Stabler A
56 Gary Beban C
57 Gino Torretta C
58 Anthony Carter D
59 Ron Dayne D
60 Andre Ware C
61 Eric Metcalf C
62 Steve Owens E
64 Ty Detmer C
65 Herschel Walker C
66 Todd Marinovich C
67 Warren Moon A
68 Gale Sayers C
69 William Perry E
70 Dan Marino A
71 Tom Rathman E
72 Joe Theismann D
73 Billy Sims D
74 Jim McMahon B
75 Johnny Rodgers C
76 Tony Dorsett B
77 Adrian Peterson A
78 Drew Brees A
79 Aaron Rodgers A
80 Steven Jackson B
81 Jake Locker C
82 Pat Devlin E
83 Christian Ponder C
84 Colin Kaepernick D
85 Prince Amukamara E
86 DeMarco Murray E
87 Kendall Hunter D
88 Noel Devine E
89 Daniel Thomas D
90 Greg Little E
91 Leonard Hankerson E
92 Ronald Johnson D
93 Titus Young E
94 Blaine Gabbert B
95 Cam Newton C
96 Ryan Mallett C
97 Andy Dalton D
98 Mark Ingram B
99 A.J. Green B
100 Julio Jones B

2013 Ultimate Collection Football 1997 Legends Autographs

The next 40 cards were found as an insert in 2013 Ultimate Collection Football. Short print info can be seen below and redemptions are marked with an asterisk (*).

Overall Odds - 1:15 packs; Individual Odds - Group A 1:200 packs, Group B 1:17 packs

Comprehensive Guide to Upper Deck Legends Autographs 7

101 Al Toon B
102 Andy Katzenmoyer B
103 Joe Montana A
104 Bart Starr A
105 Bruce Smith A
106 Charlie Ward B*
107 Marcus Lattimore B
108 Dan Fouts A
109 Don Maynard B
110 Drew Bledsoe A
111 Garrison Hearst B
112 Jake Plummer B
113 Jerome Bettis A
114 Joe Namath A
115 John Hannah B
116 Johnny Lattner B
117 Ken MacAfee B
118 Mike Rozier B*
119 Nick Buoniconti B*
120 Ray Guy B
122 Robert Smith B
123 Rodney Peete B
124 Ronnie Lott A
125 Tedy Bruschi A
126 Tommie Frazier B*
127 Vinny Testaverde B
128 Warren Sapp A
130 Montee Ball B
131 Tavon Austin B*
132 Eddie Lacy B
133 Tyler Wilson B
134 Geno Smith A
135 Matt Barkley B
136 Mike Glennon B
137 Justin Hunter B
138 Keenan Allen B
139 Ryan Nassib B
140 EJ Manuel A
141 Manti Te'o B
142 Collin Klein B

Comprehensive Guide to Upper Deck Legends Autographs 8Making purchases through affiliate links can earn the site a commission


2011-12 Ultimate Collection Hockey 1997 Legends Signatures

These autographed inserts are found one per case, on average. A detailed breakdown of each autograph grouping can be found below.

Individual Odds: Group A - 1:82 packs, Group B - 1:69 packs, Group C - 1:22 packs

Comprehensive Guide to Upper Deck Legends Autographs 29

AL-1 Bobby Hull A
AL-2 Stan Mikita A
AL-3 Tony Esposito A
AL-4 Alex Delvecchio C
AL-5 Red Kelly C
AL-6 Ted Lindsay B
AL-7 Bill Ranford C
AL-8 Glenn Anderson B
AL-9 Grant Fuhr B
AL-10 Jari Kurri C
AL-11 Marty McSorley C
AL-12 Mark Messier A
AL-13 Paul Coffey A
AL-14 Wayne Gretzky A
AL-15 Guy Lafleur A
AL-16 Jean Beliveau A
AL-17 Larry Robinson B
AL-18 Patrick Roy A
AL-19 Bill Barber C
AL-20 Bobby Clarke B
AL-21 Dave Schultz C
AL-22 Eric Lindros A
AL-23 Ron Hextall B
AL-24 Reggie Leach C
AL-25 Rick MacLeish C
AL-26 Tim Kerr C
AL-27 Adam Oates C
AL-28 Brett Hull A
AL-29 Doug Gilmour A
AL-30 Wendel Clark B

2012-13 Ultimate Collection Hockey 1997 Legends Autographs

Although they are technically part of the Ultimate product line, the 2012-13 Legends Autographs are found in bonus packs from 2012-13 The Cup Hockey. A detailed breakdown of each autograph grouping can be found below.

Overall Odds - 1:9 packs; Individual Odds - Group A - 1:42 packs, Group B - 1:20 packs, Group C - 1:31 packs

Comprehensive Guide to Upper Deck Legends Autographs 30

AL-32 Brad Park C
AL-33 Ray Bourque A
AL-34 Milt Schmidt C
AL-36 Phil Esposito A
AL-37 Bobby Orr C
AL-38 Brett Hull A
AL-39 Mike Modano B
AL-40 Ed Belfour B
AL-41 Marcel Dionne B
AL-42 Jari Kurri C
AL-43 Luc Robitaille B
AL-44 Wayne Gretzky A
AL-46 Denis Potvin B
AL-47 Clark Gillies B
AL-48 Mike Bossy B
AL-49 Ron Francis B
AL-50 Mario Lemieux A
AL-51 Jaromir Jagr A

2013-14 Ultimate Collection Hockey 1997 Legends Signatures

The insert line continues in 2013-14 Ultimate Collection and the numbering overlaps slightly with the 2012-13 set. Full short print info can be seen below.

Overall Odds - 1:15 packs; Individual Odds - Group A - 1:125 packs, Group B - 1:60 packs, Group C - 1:78 packs, Group D - 1:20 packs

Comprehensive Guide to Upper Deck Legends Autographs 31

AL-45 Michel Goulet C
AL-52 Doug Wilson D
AL-53 Denis Savard D
AL-54 Ray Bourque B
AL-55 Patrick Roy A
AL-56 Joe Sakic A
AL-57 Peter Forsberg A
AL-58 Nicklas Lidstrom D
AL-59 Dominik Hasek B
AL-60 Steve Yzerman A
AL-61 Vincent Damphousse D
AL-62 Martin Brodeur B
AL-64 Glenn Anderson D
AL-65 Wayne Gretzky A
AL-66 Theoren Fleury B
AL-68 Brian Leetch B
AL-69 Markus Naslund D
AL-70 Mark Messier A
AL-71 Mike Gartner D
AL-72 Richard Brodeur D
AL-74 Paul Coffey B
AL-75 Joe Sakic A
AL-76 Mats Sundin A
AL-77 Wayne Gretzky A
AL-78 Chris Pronger A
AL-79 Mats Sundin A
AL-81 Alexander Ovechkin A
AL-83 John LeClair B
AL-84 Jeremy Roenick D
AL-85 Gilbert Perreault D
AL-86 Arturs Irbe C
AL-87 Dale Hawerchuk B
AL-88 Curtis Joseph C
AL-89 Grant Fuhr C
AL-90 Trevor Linden C

Comprehensive Guide to Upper Deck Legends Autographs 8Making purchases through affiliate links can earn the site a commission


2010-11 Ultimate Collection Basketball 1997 Legends Autographs

These autographed inserts are found one per case, on average. While most of the autographs feature blue ink, it appears that Jerry West signed some cards using gold and silver ink and David Robinson signed some using gold ink.

Comprehensive Guide to Upper Deck Legends Autographs 53

AL-1 Michael Jordan
AL-2 LeBron James
AL-3 Magic Johnson
AL-4 Larry Bird
AL-5 Julius Erving
AL-6 Yao Ming
AL-7 Brandon Roy
AL-8 Derrick Rose
AL-9 Tracy McGrady
AL-11 Gail Goodrich
AL-12 Dominique Wilkins
AL-13 George Gervin
AL-15 David Robinson
AL-16 Alonzo Mourning
AL-17 Bill Walton
AL-18 Mark A. Jackson
AL-19 Bobby Hurley
AL-20 Jerry West
AL-21 Christian Laettner

Comprehensive Guide to Upper Deck Legends Autographs 8Making purchases through affiliate links can earn the site a commission

Most Watched

The list below provides a real-time look at the 20 most-watched Upper Deck Legends Autograph cards currently available on eBay. The list is constantly updating to give collectors the most accurate picture of the most popular cards on eBay.

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Trey is a lifelong sports fanatic. He is a huge fan of the NBA and NFL, as well as soccer, college basketball and college football. As a kid, he collected football and basketball cards. In more recent years, he started collecting basketball cards again on a whim and has since expanded to other sports and entertainment options.

User Comments

Brian Rosson
Brian Rosson

I enjoyed reading your article. Could you please let me know how many of the Walter Payton short printed cards were made for the 1997 Upper Deck Legends series?

I had read an article over 20 years ago in Beckett that said there might be only 13 cards that Payton autographed. Possibly not all of them issued because they were redemptions only.

Thanks for your time.


Trey Treutel
Trey Treutel

The exact amount is unknown.


Great article, I have been collecting autos but only the al with the back cert from Upper Deck.

Can people forge the al cards, I don’t trust non Al cards


gary ehn
gary ehn

I remember these with great fondness! I was buying blister packs at Walmart after work. Pulling the Ditka Auto one day was my best hit.

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