There was a time when rookie football cards were an afterthought for most collectors — heck, even during the hobby boom of the 1980s, you could pick up Walter Payton rookie cards all day long for just a few bucks a pop.

Those days are long gone, though, for better or worse.

Sweetness himself was responsible for a large part of that gridiron awakening, as his run past Jim Brown as the all-time leading rusher in 1984 really captured the hobby’s imagination. And then, when Payton’s Chicago Bears dominated the NFL in 1985 on their way to a Super Bowl Shuffle, the temperature of football cards started to heat up.

Through the 1990s and into the very early 2000s, football cards — along with basketball cards — made steady inroads into the collector market.

And then, when when Tom Brady burst onto the scene and led the New England Patriots to a Super Bowl victory after the 2001 season, he joined Indianapolis Colts superstar Peyton Manning in a sort of hobby tit-for-tat that was football’s version of Larry Bird and Magic Johnson.

The decades since have only solidified Brady’s place in the game, and the status of football cards (rookie cards in particular) as high-scoring, hobby-pleasing collectibles that can stand cleat-to-cleat with any other sport in the land … even if it remains a bit seasonal compared to baseball (especially vintage baseball).

And, if you ever need proof of that gridiron fire, just check out the list below of the 25 most-watched rookie football cards on eBay RIGHT NOW. Check back often, too, as this list is continually updated.

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HUGE ROOKIE PATCH AUTO PRIZM SSP SELECT RPA AUTOGRAPH SPORTS CARD COLLECTION LOT

Watchers: 107  
# of Bids: 33
Current Bid: $470
Auction Ends: 20-Apr-2024 01:04
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JOE MONTANA 1981 TOPPS #216 RC ROOKIE CARD SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS BGS 9.5 GEM MINT

Watchers: 98  
# of Bids: 32
Current Bid: $2000
Auction Ends: 21-Apr-2024 02:04
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Puka Nacua 2023 Panini Immaculate Rookie Autos Gold 6/10 card #5

Watchers: 83  
# of Bids: 12
Current Bid: $305
Auction Ends: 20-Apr-2024 00:04
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DeVON ACHANE - 2023 Panini Immaculate TRUE RPA GOLD /25 (RC,SSP) ON CARD AUTO

Watchers: 71  
# of Bids: 16
Current Bid: $123.5
Auction Ends: 22-Apr-2024 16:04
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HUGE ROOKIE PATCH AUTO PRIZM SSP SELECT RPA AUTOGRAPH SPORTS CARD COLLECTION LOT

Watchers: 70  
# of Bids: 23
Current Bid: $201
Auction Ends: 20-Apr-2024 01:04
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2019 Panini Contenders Optic KYLER MURRAY RC Auto On-Card Orange PSA 10 #/50!🍊

Watchers: 62  
# of Bids: 16
Current Bid: $140.5
Auction Ends: 26-Apr-2024 03:04
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Puka Nacua ZOOM! SSP 2023 ZENITH #7 RARE INSERT Rookie Card

Watchers: 60  
# of Bids: 12
Current Bid: $117
Auction Ends: 19-Apr-2024 07:04
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2023 Prizm C.J. Stroud Texans #339 Rookie Card RC Pandora /400 MINT Condition

Watchers: 59  
# of Bids: 26
Current Bid: $361
Auction Ends: 21-Apr-2024 03:04
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1981 Topps Joe Montana #216 Rookie Card

Watchers: 58  
# of Bids: 37
Current Bid: $150.5
Auction Ends: 22-Apr-2024 00:04
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Justin Herbert 2020 Panini Optic Auto HOLO 50/99 Rookie Card #153 PSA 10 GEM

Watchers: 57  
# of Bids: 33
Current Bid: $465
Auction Ends: 23-Apr-2024 12:04
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George Pickens Auto /35 Rookie Prizm Black PSA 10 Rookie Card Steelers RC SSP

Watchers: 56  
# of Bids: 22
Current Bid: $84
Auction Ends: 22-Apr-2024 00:04
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JOE NAMATH 1965 TOPPS FOOTBALL #122 RC ROOKIE CARD NEW YORK JETS PSA 5 EX

Watchers: 53  
# of Bids: 19
Current Bid: $2100
Auction Ends: 27-Apr-2024 02:04
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2023 Prizm Bijan Robinson Navy Camo Prizm Rookie Card RC /25 Falcons PSA 10

Watchers: 51  
# of Bids: 27
Current Bid: $210
Auction Ends: 22-Apr-2024 00:04
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2013 Topps Chrome TRAVIS KELCE Refractor - Rookie Card #118 - PSA 10 - Chiefs RC

Watchers: 49  
# of Bids: 64
Current Bid: $260
Auction Ends: 22-Apr-2024 02:04
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Jordan Love Rookie Card lot (34) Prizm Black, Contenders, Mosiac, Optic, Donruss

Watchers: 48  
# of Bids: 35
Current Bid: $242.5
Auction Ends: 21-Apr-2024 02:04
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SGC 2 JIM BROWN 1958 TOPPS #62 RC ROOKIE *CLEVELAND BROWNS* (BEAUTIFUL CARD)

Watchers: 48  
# of Bids: 11
Current Bid: $405
Auction Ends: 24-Apr-2024 02:04
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2023 Immaculate Hendon Hooker True RPA Rookie On Card Auto Emerald /18 Lions RC

Watchers: 48  
# of Bids: 14
Current Bid: $64
Auction Ends: 22-Apr-2024 01:04
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BROCK PURDY 2022 WILD CARD AUTO MANIA ROOKIE AUTO /25 SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS 🔥🔥

Watchers: 47  
# of Bids: 11
Current Bid: $76
Auction Ends: 21-Apr-2024 02:04
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AMON-RA ST. BROWN 2021 PANINI ORIGINS ROOKIE RC ON CARD AUTO **DETROIT LIONS**

Watchers: 47  
# of Bids: 24
Current Bid: $59.12
Auction Ends: 20-Apr-2024 02:04
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Aidan Hutchinson 2022 Donruss Optic Downtown #DTAH Rookie Card PSA 10 Gem Mint

Watchers: 46  
# of Bids: 25
Current Bid: $315
Auction Ends: 21-Apr-2024 21:04
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2020 Optic Jalen Hurts Purple Rated Rookie Autograph #ed 34/35 Card #164

Watchers: 46  
# of Bids: 22
Current Bid: $255
Auction Ends: 19-Apr-2024 23:04
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2014 Mike Evans Panini Flawless BLUE #/20 Rookie Inscriptions Auto #4 On-Card!

Watchers: 46  
# of Bids: 31
Current Bid: $250
Auction Ends: 21-Apr-2024 01:04
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1986 Topps Jerry Rice Rookie Card RC #161 San Francisco 49ers (B)

Watchers: 46  
# of Bids: 11
Current Bid: $20.76
Auction Ends: 21-Apr-2024 02:04
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2023 CJ STROUD WILD CARD Chrome Wildchrome Rookie Autograph AUTO RC 3/3 Sealed

Watchers: 46  
# of Bids: 23
Current Bid: $257
Auction Ends: 22-Apr-2024 02:04
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DeVON ACHANE 2023 Panini Immaculate RPA /99 ON CARD AUTO THREE COLOR PATCH

Watchers: 45  
# of Bids: 16
Current Bid: $112
Auction Ends: 20-Apr-2024 01:04
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