If you have been collecting sports cards for any length of time you have likely thought about cards that you would like to own someday. This is often referred to as a “grail list” in reference to the Chalice of Antioch (aka the Holy Grail) that is frequently sought by treasure hunters in books and movies. For sports card collectors a grail list is as unique as the individual making it. Inclusion of players on lists can be influenced by quality of play, long-term investment potential, card aesthetics, and emotional factors. A list of this type can be useful in that it adds focus and goals to the collecting process.
Below is my football list. Given unlimited time and money, these are the cards I would search out and buy. Hey, it is ok to dream sometimes!
Jerry Rice 1986 Topps #161
Position: Wide Receiver
Teams: San Francisco 49ers (1985-2000), Oakland Raiders (2001-2004), Seattle Seahawks (2005)
Pro Football Hall of Fame: 2010
As the NFL’s all-time leader in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns, Rice can make a case for being the greatest football player ever, not just the finest receiver in NFL history. As a 3-time Super Bowl champion in Bill Walsh’s famed “West Coast” offense, Rice remains a giant in my imagination as a young person who fell in love with football in the late 80s and early 90s. His rookie card comes from the iconic green-and-white-striped 1986 Topps set, which the first one I collected extensively. I still have fond memories of trading cards from this set with my friends at school and not being able to sleep at night after my mom told me that she would buy me a cello pack at the drugstore the next day.