The Dallas Cowboys haven’t won a Super Bowl since 1996, but they’re still one of the more popular franchises worldwide thanks to their appearances in films and popular media over the years.
(There’s a reason why they’re known as “America’s Team”, despite being one of the most hated squads of the 1990s.)
Given their fame, we’ve put together a list with three of the best Dallas Cowboys rookie cards of all-time, with info about each player, their card, and how they managed to make it onto the list.
The Best Dallas Cowboys Rookie Cards of All-Time
It’s tempting to list three Dak Prescott cards and call it a day, but we’ve opted for a trio of options from different decades to offer something for fans of all ages.
The Cowboys were one of the most successful teams of the ’90s, capturing three Super Bowl titles in a four-year span (1992, 1993, and 1995). They’re also the only NFL team to record 20 straight winning seasons (1966–85), in which they missed the playoffs only twice (1974 and 1984).
In other words, they were incredibly successful in the past, and they’ve failed to live up to their own high standards in the last three decades.
However; this does mean that they have a heap of top-rated rookies from the past, while their current crop has underperformed relative to their talents.
1976 Randy White Topps Rookie Card #158
Randy White spent his entire career with the Cowboys (1975-88), helping the team to victory in Super Bowl XII. Having played in three Super Bowls and six NFC championship games, he was a key cog in terms of their historic success, and he’s well remembered by fans.
Dallas QB Wide Out: CeeDee Lamb Rookie Cards
A typical mid 70’s card in most respects, the 1976 Topps features a shot of White staring down at the camera, with the stadium and a bright blue sky in the background. The white border has a pink outline, with no other discernible features other than a vintage haircut.
Unlike many modern options, the player is more important than the card, and there’s no such thing as a parallel, or even a signed option to make it stand out.
Instead, much of the value is derived from the Topps brand and the condition of the card, which is especially important as it’s over 40 years old.
2016 Dak Prescott Panini Contenders Auto Rookie Card #307
Fast forward forty years to 2016 and Dak Prescott is the man tasked with leading “America’s Team” to glory. The QB is still seen as the future, and he has the backing of owner Jerry Jones and executive vice president Stephen Jones, who believe he’s still capable of leading the franchise back to a Super Bowl.
Prescott has a range of exciting options from his rookie year in 2016, but we’d opt for one of the Panini Contenders parallels if you’re looking for the best ROI in the next year or so.
Invest In Another Cowboys QB: Troy Aikman Rookie Cards
The set features Prescott in a variety of different images depending on the parallel, with a strong on-card auto located underneath.
If Prescott and the Cowboys manage to do the unthinkable, prices will skyrocket as lapsed fans finally have something meaningful to celebrate after decades spent trying to live up to past glories.
Parallels: Championship Ticket (/25), Playoff Ticket (/25), Cracked Ice (/24), Preview (/22), Printing Plates Black (1/1), Printing Plates Cyan (1/1), Printing Plates Magenta (1/1), Printing Plates Yellow (1/1), Super Bowl Ticket (1/1)
1990 Emmitt Smith Score Rookie Card #101T
Emmitt Smith spent 12 years with the Cowboys after being drafted in 1990 and is widely seen as one of the greatest running backs in NFL history. He still holds the NFL record in career rushing yards with 18,355 and is a Cowboys’ legend despite making the switch to the Arizona Cardinals in 2003. (In his defense, he was dropped by Cowboys’ head coach Bill Parcells, who wanted to blood in younger players.)
Smith’s 1990 Score as part of an updated set, featuring an in-game shot of the player being pursued by the New York Giants. It’s widely seen as the best vintage Cowboys RC for a number of reasons, which we’ll get into below.
It might have been released midway through the junk wax era, but it’s increased in value rapidly in recent years. As always, we’d advise to look out for PSA 10 grades only, as the card can suffer from centering issues, and it is 30 years old as of 2020.