From Don Hutson all the way to Jerry Rice, the history of the game has no shortage of incredible pass catchers. These wide receivers couldn't keep their hands off the football, and many collectors would love to get their hands on these rookie cards.
Narrowing the list down to 11 athletes is a tough order with such a large pool to pick from, which also means there is no right or wrong answer.
Let's break down our list of 11 captivating pass catchers and their rookie cards.
When "greatest receiver of all-time" conversations take place, Randy Moss is certainly a player that gives Jerry Rice a run for his money. In a set that also features future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning, Moss' rookie card holds its own. Like the Manning card, corner and edge wear are the most common condition flaws here.
This is the only recognized rookie card of the NFL's greatest receiver. Retaining sole possession of multiple NFL records, Rice is a living legend in the sport. As such, his rookie card also resides among the most coveted football cards in the hobby. Chipping along the green borders is the major condition concern for this card.
One of the keys of the 1979 Topps set is James Lofton's rookie card. A force through three decades, Lofton was the first player to score a touchdown in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. Centering issues and smudging can typically impact the grade of this card.
Steve Largent leads a rookie class consisting of Lee Roy Selmon, Mike Haynes, and Harry Carson, among others, in Topps' 1977 offering. Largent was a dominant receiver who closed out his career as the owner of multiple receiving records. This card isn't particularly difficult to secure in high grades, but centering issues can make PSA Gem Mint 10 a tall order.
Terry Bradshaw's favorite target is also a key card in the 1975 Topps set. Lynn Swan and Bradshaw formed one of the most dynamic quarterback/wideout tandems in football history, riding the “Steel Curtain” to multiple championships. This card is difficult to obtain in high-grades, with centering and print defects to contend with.
Next to Namath's iconic rookie card, Fred Biletnikoff's rookie card is a key to Topps' 1965 issue. In 14 years with the Raiders, Biletnikoff set multiple franchise records and established himself as one of the greats in the game. As any 1965 Topps issue, this card must contend with centering, print defects and general wear.
Arguably the best overall wide receiver of the 1960s, Paul Warfield was a pure athlete. With his combination of speed and power, he led the Browns to consecutive league championships in 1964 and 1965. Poor centering is the most common condition flaw with these cards, and the occasionally scratched rub-off area on the card back can affect the grade.
Though not technically a rookie card, this is the only vintage card to feature the most dominating receiver of the ‘30s and ‘40s, Don Hutson. His dominance was such that his career reception total was nearly double that of his closest challenger, and many experts have argued his “greatest of all-time” status. This card is a tough short print and, as such, difficult to find well-centered.
Another versatile athlete who played on both sides of the ball, Gifford helped lead the Giants to a league championship over the Bears. This card, part of an integral set in football, is difficult to find well-centered, a trait that hampers both large and small formats.
It was common in football's early days to employ versatile players who can man multiple positions. Enter Pihos, who racked up Hall of Fame numbers as an Eagles' receiver, and was a defensive force. Poor centering and other issues due to card stock quality plague this card.
It's easy to get lost in such an iconic card issue, especially one considered the Holy Grail of gridiron sets, but Luke Johnsos (his last name is actually “Johnson”) is no slouch. High-numbered Chicle cards, specifically #25-36, are notoriously difficult to track down, making #35 Luke Johnsos an elusive find.