So much of what is written and talked about in the sports card hobby revolves around jumping in early on the next big thing.  What will be the next hot product?  Which young quarterback will lead his team to the playoffs?  What can I flip in six weeks for twice what I paid?  Engaging the hobby in this manner can be a ton of fun.  There is definite excitement in watching the week-to-week performance of a player whose cards you have purchased.  Who would not love to say that they bought ten Patrick Mahomes Prizm rookie cards for $20 back in 2017 when he was riding the bench behind Alex Smith?  

However, there is a downside to collecting this way.  What if instead of buying Mahomes in 2017, you bought a bunch of Mitchell Trubisky or Deshawn Watson cards?  After periods of effectiveness (Trubisky was a Pro Bowler in 2018, and Watson made it 2018 through 2020), it is unlikely that either of these players will be significant NFL contributors in the future.  Trubisky (poor play/injuries/stuck in a bad organization) and Watson (off the field legal issues) have had their careers derailed for different reasons, but the unfortunate reality is that this happens often.

History tells us that most NFL players will not reach the Pro Bowl level, let alone the Hall of Fame.  

This idea has caused me to consider the current values of some of the NFL’s young passers.  The example I will use here is Josh Allen, but one could swap out his name for Justin Herbert, Lamar Jackson or Kyler Murray.  Their cards are all absolutely on fire right now.  At the time of writing, Allen’s 2018 Panini Prizm in PSA 9 carried a price tag of almost $300.  This seems ridiculously high to me.  While Allen led Buffalo to AFC Championship and made the Pro Bowl in 2020, he could blow a knee next Sunday.  Additionally, he could make a questionable decision at a night club when the Bills travel to New York in Week 10, or he could simply be an average NFL starter for the next 10 seasons.  If any of these three scenarios happen, there is no way his Prizm rookie stays at $300.

There is no wrong way to collect football cards, but the price and volatility of ultra-modern rookie cards has caused me to re-assess how I spend my hobby dollars.  Is it an oversimplification to say that the best way to build a quality collection, and make money in the hobby is to buy players who are already in the Hall of Fame?

Below are six cards that I believe to be a better long-term bet from a value and risk mitigation perspective than the above Allen card.  Each of the players on the cards below are members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  Their legacy is secure.  They will never have a career-ending injury, another subpar season, or be traded to a franchise with incompetent coaches or owners.

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