Tom Brady Most Valuable Rookie Cards & Buying Guide
Brady is a GOAT who’s miraculously still adding to his legacy in his mid-40s, which is a big part of what makes collectors view Brady’s cards as the best investment in the hobby. Sales of Brady’s cards illustrate he tops the list for return on investment (ROI) in collecting.
When Brady first put on a Patriots uniform in 2000, the hobby was in a precarious position. After collapsing in the early ’90s, card companies were trying to reinvent their products at the turn of the century. There are more than 40 cards considered Brady rookies. Many feature him in a Michigan uniform and others in practice sweatpants. The beauty of collecting is you get to choose your favorite look among this variety.
Brady’s rookies offer an interesting time capsule into this transition period, with some providing a glittering gateway into the modern era of autographs, jersey patches and refractors. The value depends on several factors, among the most vital are the number printed, autographs and brands.
When it comes to rookie cards, most of us can’t imagine owning a top-graded Brady card, one of which has eclipsed seven figures. We’re focusing on the very top of most valuable Brady rookies here. Just remember, landing just about any Brady rookie at any grade level is worth it.
Tom Brady career stats
- Comp PCT. 64.2%
- Passing TDs – 624
- Passing Yards – 84,520
- 7x Super Bowl Champion
- 5x Super Bowl MVP
- 3x NFL MVP
- 15x Pro Bowl
- 3x NFL First-Team All-Pro
- Most Career Passing TDs
- Most Career Passing Yards
Most Valuable Tom Brady Rookie Cards
- 2000 Playoff Contenders Championship Ticket Auto #144 /100
- 2000 Playoff Contenders Auto #144
- 2000 SP Authentic #118 /1250
- 2000 Bowman Chrome Refractor #236
2000 Playoff Contenders Championship Ticket Auto #144 /100
- Value: $3,107,000 (Auction Sale, June 2021)
The Playoff Contenders Championship Ticket autograph card is one of the most valuable of all sports cards in the modern era. Only 100 of Brady’s most valuable card exist.
While Brady remains at the top of his game, none of these cards have been graded a Gem Mint 10. So far, the most expensive one sold was a card awarded a 9 by Beckett Grading Service (BGS), which went for $3.107 million in June 2021. Playoff Contenders was considered a breakthrough product and its reputation has held up. It is a highly desirable set because of both aesthetics and rarity. This card is a parallel of the base set, and its paper stock comes with just a little bit of gloss.
The ticket on the right lists Brady’s position, number, and year (R = Rookie). Unlike the base set, though, it features the word “Championship” in script above the words “Rookie Ticket.” The design on the back plays on the ticket theme and lists University of Michigan stats, including the team’s record with him as a starter, points for and against, and his individual stats. Of course, a huge part of what makes this card so valuable is the authenticated autograph.
One unfortunate consequence of this card’s worth, is that counterfeits have circulated. The fakes tend to have more sheen. Another way to spot a counterfeit is that the words “Michigan Team Stats” on the back of a fake are pixelated and harder to read.
One downside of the true card’s paper stock is that it’s less sturdy than a premium gloss card. That, along with the dark edges on the picture side make chipping (the flaking of colored ink) more likely. That’s partly why no card has ever earned a 10. BGS has graded 81 of the 100 cards printed. It has given a 9 to seven cards. PSA has graded 13 cards, with only one receiving a 9.
2000 Playoff Contenders Rookie Ticket Auto #144
- Value: $555,988 (PSA 10 – January 2021)
The second-most valuable card is only slightly different and slightly less rare than the most expensive gem. The most recent PSA 10 auction sale in January 2021 went for $555,988.
It is a base set version of the Playoff Contenders card. And although it doesn’t feature the “Championship” in script above “Rookie Ticket” it still has the uber-important autograph.
Brady had 13 autographed cards released in 2000, but this is the one considered by collectors a “true” rookie card, which gives it the whopping value. Another factor that earns so much coin is that several have been graded in top condition. PSA has graded 189 of them and 13 have received a Gem Mint 10. BGS has graded 669 and hasn’t yet given a 10, but has given 13 cards a 9.5 (PSA only grades in whole numbers).
Some collectors have passed on getting this card graded because it’s not in tip-top condition. They simply get the card authenticated and get the autograph graded. Even with just an authentication, these cards have reached well into the five figures in recent years.
2000 SP Authentic #118 /1250
- Value: $95,613 (PSA -10, January 2022 Auction Sale)
This iconic card comes from a once-coveted brand, this card was marketed as a premium issue. The design is high-quality, but today’s cards need an autograph and a smaller print run to be considered a premium product. A PSA 10 of this card sold for $95,613 in January 2022.
Yet SP Authentic was a set made by Upper Deck from 1993 to 2009, and collectors chased them down. It was among the most valuable and popular brands of sports cards during its run.
Compared to the mass production of the 1990s sets, this card is still rare. SP printed 1,250 of this Brady. The right edge of the card lists the serial number on a clean white border, which incidentally helps prevent chipping and results in higher grades. BGS has given 13 of these cards a 10. PSA has given a 10 to 97 of the cards it’s graded.
The collectibles website Gold Card Auctions names this Brady as its top pick for Return on Investment (ROI) over the next two decades.
2000 Bowman Chrome #236 Refractor
- Value: $75,000 (PSA 9 – Average Auction Price)
One of the most valuable Brady cards isn’t a high-end design or even numbered. Why is it so popular?
Well, it’s one of only two Tom Brady rookies released by Topps. The legacy company has legions of disciples, so there’s interest for that reason alone. It’s also Brady’s only chromium-style rookie card. Bowman started producing its popular Chrome cards in 1997 for baseball and then made the jump to the NFL in 1998.
This early Chrome refractor looks rather prehistoric when it comes to today’s refractors. It’s far less flashy than the ones that now come in red, blue, foil and countless other wild varieties. And modern refractors have limited print runs and serial numbers on the card that illustrate their rarity.
PSA has graded 131 of these cards with seven receiving a 10 and BGS has graded 253 with a single card receiving a 10. The difficulty of receiving a 10 also makes this one a highly sought after card.
The last time a PSA 10 of this card sold was in 2017, when it went for $45,000, however, the market around the pandemic sent prices heavenward. In March 2021 a PSA 9 sold for $117,100 and a PSA 8 sold for $87,330 in October 2021.
Other valuable Tom Brady rookie cards
- 2000 Playoff Contenders Round Numbers #RN11 – Tom Brady and Marc Bulger
- 2000 Upper Deck Gold Reserve #215 /2500
- 2000 SPx #130 /1350
- 2000 Leaf Limited #378 /350
2000 Playoff Contenders Round Numbers #RN11 Tom Brady and Marc Bulger
- Value: $85,200 (Auction Sale Price, June 2021)
This is considered a rookie but it’s one Brady has to share. L.A. Rams QB Marc Bulger is featured on the front of this card while Brady gets the back. Bulger was taken 31 picks ahead of Brady in the 6th round. The large number “6” looming over the quarterback’s shoulder makes Brady’s “rags-to-riches” story apparent. This card – and Brady – will not let you forget how many quarterbacks were picked ahead of him. What really makes this card so valuable is that it features autographs of both players.