Ryan Barone (@ballcardgenius, Card Expert) is a lifelong member of the hobby. His content has recently been mentioned in “Quick Rips” (the Topps RIPPED Newsletter) and across other hobby publications. email@example.com; Last Time Ago LLC dba Ballcard Genius.
If you’ve ever been to KC, you know it’s not just about sizzling BBQ—there’s a football fever that’s downright contagious. Not just of late of course, but reaching all the way to classic Super Bowl moments in ’70 to the more recent 2020 dazzler, the Chiefs are a must watch and their fans have plenty to be thankful for.
ONE WEEK TO GO pic.twitter.com/SQxEiJPMJ0— Kansas City Chiefs (@Chiefs) August 31, 2023
In terms of team legends, Len Dawson set the framework for leading a team with unmatched poise. Pure football magic. Patrick Mahomes picked up that tradition, is in the GOAT conversation, and thus turns Arrowhead into a highlight reel every Sunday. And the all-time roster doesn’t stop there. Derrick Thomas, struck fear in quarterbacks everywhere. And Tony Gonzalez? If there was a pass in his zip code, he was catching it.
Like all things sports, in my humble opinion, what better way to commemorate such players than with a healthy football card collection? Collectors know these aren’t just “pieces of cardboard with pictures of grown men” on them. They are nostalgic reminders of joyous times and amazing plays, or athletes that put their reams on their back to create a moment unlike anything you’ve ever seen before.
Card number 88 on the #iconic100 is also one of the newest cards on the list!?— PWCC (@PWCCmarketplace) August 31, 2022
Pat Mahomes’ National Treasures RPA is viewed as one of the most important ultra-modern cards in the hobby. pic.twitter.com/U0NhvA4irv
(This card isn’t on the list, but you can bet Mahomes is.)
So with all of that, let’s take a look at 7 iconic Kansas City Chiefs Football Cards. This list is mostly about the cards themselves, with partial player influence. Meaning, it’s not a list of the greatest Chiefs players ever. Sure, it’s going to have some of the biggest names, but it’s also going to miss a few.
As a big baseball collector, it’s strange to have a list of iconic cards and have Topps only mentioned a couple of times, but here we are! Even so, the 1971 Topps football card design is one of the best, and one I could only wish they would have adopted for baseball (instead of the dreaded, too chippable black).
#ChiefsKingdom you know the vibes! It’s Red Friday and Red Card Day. Today I’m rockin the 1971 Topps Len Dawson. Feel free to share a red card in the comments. Have a great weekend everyone! pic.twitter.com/20YVbDkWxW— biggestlittlefinds (@cardboardfan775) December 9, 2022
Anyway, it’s really hard to beat a vintage color match (as you’ll see throughout this post). The red on red is stunning, and paired with the classic football card “action shot,” and big block lettering you’ve got one of the most iconic Chiefs cards imaginable.
So, if we are going to include a 1971 Dawson card because it’s a color match…I wonder if there are any others that belong on this list?
No, 1989 Score wasn’t just a set for Barry Sanders’ best rookie card. While Derrick Thomas’ value probably won’t reach that of the storied Detroit running back, the card itself is certainly the most iconic for the feared pass rusher.
And hey, we aren’t exactly talking about cardboard chopped liver here. The 30-day average on a PSA 10 (according to Market Movers) is $180 over 6 cards sold.
Never mind the most iconic Chiefs cards of all-time, the 1997 Topps Tony Gonzalez is one of the coolest football cards period.
First, he’s probably one of the first to treat the goalpost like a basketball hoop by slam dunking the pigskin over crossbar. But second, it’s a nod to Gonzalez’s hardwood prowess—he played both football and basketball while at UC Berkeley before ultimately declaring for the NBA draft.
And of course, we are just talking about the paper base card here, but you can always opt for the upgraded chrome or even chrome refractor if you really wanted to get into it.
Now, I know—both Raiders and Chiefs fans might have something to say about this one. On the other hand, as a 49ers fan, (and speaking of Raiders and Chiefs) I think it might be cool to have a Jerry Rice auto with photos of him on the Raiders and 49ers, or a Joe Montana auto with him pictured as a 49er and a Chief.
So, I’ll admit, perhaps not an “iconic” Chiefs card but one that would be cool for a Chiefs fan nonetheless.
That’s right, the ultimate collector’s combination—an all-time great, rookie card, and color match all rolled into one. Not to mention that, as mentioned by Cardboard Connection, “the 1963 set would prove to be the company’s last football product until the mid-1970s.”
Closing Tonight (Tuesday)… 1963 Fleer Football Len Dawson ROOKIE RC #47 PSA 9— PWCC (@PWCCmarketplace) March 24, 2020
HIGH-RES IMAGE LINK – https://t.co/ybvTOht4jn#TangibleAssets #Invest #LenDawson #Rookie #HOF #NFL pic.twitter.com/t0uiE6vLbx
And interestingly enough, while this. is Dawson’s tookie card, this wasn’t his “rookie season.” He was drafted by Pittsburgh, traded to Cleveland, and signed with the Dallas Texans, where they ultimately moved to Kansas City and became the Chiefs.
When you think about all-time Kansas City greats who spent their entire career with the team, you might first think of George Brett. And while you wouldn’t be wrong, people forget about that Bobby Bell also played his whole career with the Chiefs, and unlike Brett, would win a championship in his tenure.
As one of the greatest linebackers of all time, Bell’s rookie card is iconic without a doubt. I’ve already talked “color match” to death, but my eyes can’t help but light up with the yellow background and red name plate.
When you hear Pat Mahomes and Donruss mentioned in the same sentence, your baseball brain might harken back to the junk wax era, and the “first” Patrick Mahomes of the time taking the bump for the Minnesota Twins.
So if you’re not already conditioned to bring this card to mind, you better start. While it might not ever reach 2000 Bowman Chrome Tom Brady status, it’s hard to argue with one of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time (and plenty left in the tank) and the timeless “Rated Rookie” logo that Donruss provides.
?Update: Check out this big Mahomes sale on the COMC Marketplace! A 2017 Donruss Optic Pink Prizm Rated Rookie graded PSA 10 of Patrick Mahomes sold for $3706.10! ??— COMC – Check Out My Cards (@CheckOutMyCards) May 22, 2023
Shop for Mahomes cards on COMC! https://t.co/pTXB50UanC#COMC #PatrickMahomes #KansasCityChiefs #PSA pic.twitter.com/AhKZcNAmXe
And if we are going to mention chrome and refractor for Topps cards, we need to also surface the fact that there is also an Optic (and parallels, as shown above) and silver option here for Mahomes (though, the last plain base card sold for over $170, so only imagine what upgraded versions will go for).