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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KENNY PICKETT 2022 PANINI CONTENDERS ROOKIE TICKT ON CARD AUTO RC PSA 10 10 1469

Watchers: 136  
# of Bids: 24
Current Bid: $635
Auction Ends: 31-May-2023 02:05
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JOSH ALLEN 2018 Flawless Collegiate New Encased GOLD RPA RC On Card AUTO # 01/10

Watchers: 85  
# of Bids: 26
Current Bid: $722
Auction Ends: 31-May-2023 01:05
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2021 Panini Prizm Trevor Lawrence Silver Prizm PSA 9 Jaguars Rookie Card RC

Watchers: 68  
# of Bids: 35
Current Bid: $127.5
Auction Ends: 31-May-2023 02:05
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2022 Panini Prizm Brock Purdy Prizm Silver Autograph Auto PSA 9 Rookie Card RC

Watchers: 67  
# of Bids: 30
Current Bid: $360
Auction Ends: 31-May-2023 02:05
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2021 Panini Select Trey Lance Field Level Silver Prizm PSA 10 Rookie Card 49ers

Watchers: 66  
# of Bids: 16
Current Bid: $122.5
Auction Ends: 31-May-2023 02:05
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Trevor Lawrence 2021 Absolute Football KABOOM! Rookie Card SGC 9

Watchers: 65  
# of Bids: 20
Current Bid: $690
Auction Ends: 02-Jun-2023 00:06
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TOM BRADY PSA 9 MINT PATRIOTS HOF ROOKIE CARD #236 1ST RC SP 2000 BOWMAN CHROME

Watchers: 62  
# of Bids: 44
Current Bid: $2475
Auction Ends: 02-Jun-2023 03:06
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Jim Brown Signed Autographed 1958 Topps #62 Rookie Card BAS 10 WELL CENTERED!!!!

Watchers: 60  
# of Bids: 31
Current Bid: $2025
Auction Ends: 31-May-2023 17:05
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2021 Donruss Optic Justin Fields Downtown #DT39 Rookie Card PSA GEM MT 10Β 

Watchers: 60  
# of Bids: 21
Current Bid: $1325
Auction Ends: 31-May-2023 00:05
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2021 PANINI SPECTRA MICAH PARSONS CELESTIAL AUTO RC /75 COWBOYS Card 269 πŸ”₯

Watchers: 57  
# of Bids: 21
Current Bid: $61
Auction Ends: 02-Jun-2023 02:06
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ZACH WILSON 2021 PANINI FLAWLESS DUAL PATCH ON CARD AUTO RED 1/15 ROOKIE RC

Watchers: 57  
# of Bids: 8
Current Bid: $50
Auction Ends: 01-Jun-2023 02:06
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LAMAR JACKSON 2018 PANINI PERSONAL EDITION RATED ROOKIE ON CARD AUTO RAVENS SSP

Watchers: 57  
# of Bids: 24
Current Bid: $227.5
Auction Ends: 05-Jun-2023 01:06
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2021 PANINI PHOENIX AUTO JUSTIN FIELDS SIGNED ROOKIE CARD RC JERSEY GOLD /25

Watchers: 57  
# of Bids: 22
Current Bid: $220.5
Auction Ends: 03-Jun-2023 01:06
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2022 PANINI DONRUSS OPTIC DOWNTOWN CASE HIT AARON RODGERS CARD #DT-AR PACKERS

Watchers: 56  
# of Bids: 5
Current Bid: $182.5
Auction Ends: 30-May-2023 23:05
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2020 PANINI ENCASED JUSTIN HERBERT ROOKIE AUTO BGS 9/10 #/10 GOLD!! ON CARD AUTO

Watchers: 56  
# of Bids: 25
Current Bid: $811
Auction Ends: 01-Jun-2023 03:06
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TOM BRADY 2000 LEAF CERTIFIED 4 STAR ROOKIE PSA 8 AUTO PSA 10 POP 8 RARE ROOKIE

Watchers: 55  
# of Bids: 31
Current Bid: $2125
Auction Ends: 06-Jun-2023 01:06
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Jalen Hurts 2020 Prizm Football Snakeskin Prizm Rookie Card SGC 9.5

Watchers: 54  
# of Bids: 26
Current Bid: $370
Auction Ends: 02-Jun-2023 00:06
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1976 Topps Walter Payton Rookie Card RC #148 SGC 6 EX NM Bears

Watchers: 53  
# of Bids: 23
Current Bid: $306
Auction Ends: 31-May-2023 01:05
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2013 Panini Contenders Rookie Ticket #205 DeAndre Hopkins RC AUTO TEXANS CARDS

Watchers: 53  
# of Bids: 14
Current Bid: $44
Auction Ends: 01-Jun-2023 23:06
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2022 Contenders Optic Sam Howell Blue ON CARD Rookie Auto #’d /99 Commanders RC

Watchers: 52  
# of Bids: 20
Current Bid: $228.5
Auction Ends: 30-May-2023 18:05
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2020 Joe Burrow Panini Prizm Orange Lazer Prizm PSA 10πŸ”₯Rookie Card #307

Watchers: 52  
# of Bids: 25
Current Bid: $600
Auction Ends: 30-May-2023 20:05
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2022 Panini Donruss Optic Desmond Ridder Rated Rookie On Card Auto Blue /99 ATL

Watchers: 51  
# of Bids: 11
Current Bid: $172.5
Auction Ends: 04-Jun-2023 04:06
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BARRY SANDERS PSA 10 1989 SCORE FOOTBALL #257 STAR ROOKIE CARD RC GEM MINT LIONS

Watchers: 49  
# of Bids: 18
Current Bid: $801
Auction Ends: 31-May-2023 21:05
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2022 Contenders Optic Teal Kenny Pickett Rc On Card Auto #33/99 πŸ”₯

Watchers: 49  
# of Bids: 6
Current Bid: $605
Auction Ends: 31-May-2023 23:05
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