As one of the most successful franchises in the NFL, the Denver Broncos have had no shortage of great players call the Mile High City their home. While most of the love goes to the quarterbacks, there are players across the roster who have garnered a following throughout the years.
For sports card enthusiasts and Broncos fans alike, there are a few cards that have become tough to encounter. Of course the cards of a quarterback or wide receiver are more valuable than one of a Denver Broncos safety.
Whether due to rarity or cost, there are a handful of cards that stand out as a tough get for fans.
The Toughest Denver Broncos Football Cards to Collect
Which cards make the list of the toughest to find among Broncos collectors? Let’s take a look at the six that make the cut and become “Grail” cards for many collectors.
1995 Select Certified Mirror Gold Terrell Davis
During the 1990s, there weren’t many autographs yet and almost no game-used cards until the end of the decade. For guys like Davis, who came around in the mid-1990s, the best rookies weren’t autographed or even numbered.
The base version of this card is much more common but the mirror gold parallel doesn’t come up often. It’s not quite as expensive as some of the others below – a BGS 9.5 was recently sold for $260 – but you won’t see many of them pop up at one time. For a vital player in Broncos history, this rookie is a must.
2011 Topps Five Star Triple Patch Rookie Auto Booklet /35
Von Miller is the franchise's all-time sack leader, a key figure in the last of the Broncos’ three championship teams. Because his rookies fall in the modern class of cards, there are far too many to go over in one space. There are also some that are insanely rare and never surface, so let’s focus on something tough but realistically attainable.
This card from the 2011 Topps Five Star product is a beautiful option. Limited to just 35 copies, this card from a nearly 15-year-old product doesn’t see the light of day often. Hard signed on the left side of the card by Miller himself, the right side features three swatches from a player-worn jersey. Beautiful, rare, and autographed makes this Von Miller a must for Broncos fans.
1984 Topps John Elway Rookie
Let’s get one thing out of the way quickly here. The 1984 Topps John Elway rookie isn’t all that rare. There are thousands upon thousands of copies. So, if you are okay getting a copy that isn’t in the best condition, it can be had for a reasonable amount.
But finding a copy of this card in pristine shape – like a PSA or SGC 10 – will be a lot tougher. Though a few have popped up over the years, a 10 of any kind will cost thousands of dollars. Finding a raw (ungraded) copy in that kind of condition is very tough, making this a far more difficult card to attain.
1998 Playoff Contenders Rookie Ticket Auto Peyton Manning
There are plenty of Manning rookies – with him in a Colts uniform – to choose from. When you get into the autographed and limited cards, things get very expensive. One of the grail rookie cards for Manning is the 1998 Playoff Contenders Rookie Ticket Autograph.
Even copies of this card in decent condition – PSA 7 or 8 – will bring in well north of $10,000. The better the condition and the state of the autograph, the higher the price tag. It is arguably Manning’s most desired rookie and a must-have when collecting Broncos rookie cards.
1997 Metal Universe Precious Metal Gems Green Shannon Sharpe
Metal Universe is one of the most popular 1990s football sets. An insert parallel – Precious Metal Gems – is one of the most iconic sets of the 1990s. There are 150 copies in total, 135 of them belonging to the red version. The green, at just 15 copies, is nearly impossible to find these days.
Sharpe is one of the most iconic players in franchise history and his PMG Green is a major deal. A red recently sold for about $1,000 and it has been years since a green appeared. When they surface, they commonly go for thousands.
2018 Panini National Treasures Prio Trios Auto Elway/Davis/Smith
What better way to celebrate the Broncos than by having three key members of their back-to-back Super Bowl teams on one card? National Treasures is a high-end product and this card has a high-end feel. Limited to just 10 copies, it encapsulates three legendary Broncos from one of the most noteworthy times in franchise history.
If you are a serious collector and Broncos fan, these are “Grail” cards. They can get a bit pricey but the best of the best when it comes to football cards will wind up costing you. In the end, however, it will create an incredible collection.