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The Hardest John Elway Cards to Collect: 1996

Updated on June 27, 2011

For whatever reason, 1995 was just not a good year to do an article like this, but I'm happy to say that 1996 is much better. These are definitely a more interesting set of cards and all those shown are the highest grade out there and the only one out there.

I'd like to acknowledge Burbank Sportscards for the card information. I will link to their ebay sight where you can find tons of information about tons of different cards.

1996 Pro Line II Intense John Elway $5 Phone Card #9

I guess very few people have bothered to get these graded. Among some of the difficulties in achieving a high grade is the fact that the back has a scratch-off part where you get the code. This is not a particularly hard card to find and they are usually available for less than $5, so you could conceivably get it graded and get that PSA 10 and have the only one in the world.

Randomly inserted in 1996 Pro Line Intense packs at a rate of one in 35, this 20-card set includes $5 worth of Sprint long distance phone calls per card. The expiration date for calling is March 26, 1998. The cards were released as well in 1996 Score Board NFL Phone Card packs. Two parallel sets of the $5 cards were included in the Phone Card pack release. Proof cards were inserted at the rate of 1:65 (numbered of 108 made) and Test cards were inserted at the rate of 1:130 packs (numbered of 52 made).

1996 Upper Deck TV-Cels #TV-6 John Elway

As you'll note in the description in the card below, this card is a redeemed card, so it's road to being graded is even more difficult than the "Predictor" card that is more common. Even at PSA 8, this is the highest graded of these cards.

The 1996 Upper Deck Predictors were randomly inserted in both hobby and retail packs at a rate of one in 23, with stated odds of 1:14 in some special retail packs. These otherwise standard-sized insert cards had a small concave die-cut into the ends of the card, which had a gold border surrounding a picture of the player. This interactive insert listed an accomplishment (I.e., 16 receptions in a game, 420 yards passing in a game, etc.) that the player pictured had to reach during the 1996 NFL season for the card to be redeemable for a "TV-Cel" upgrade of the particular card. The results listed after the player below by a W (winner) or L (loser) reflects their success in meeting those goals. The predictors inserted in hobby packs have a "PH" prefix, while the retail predictors have a "PR" prefix. The expiration date was 2/28/1997.

1996 Sportscall Phone Card John Elway #109

I wish I knew more about this set of cards, but if you type in "1996 sportscall" on Ebay, you'll find a bunch of them. Again, because they were supposed to be used for phone calls, people probably put them in their wallets and degraded them.

These cards can be acquired cheaply, though they're not the most attractive card around. There's a very good chance with a little effort, that PSA 10 could be had. There are none available right now and this is the highest-graded card on the market.

1996 Playoff Trophy Contender Mini Back 2 Back #42

Playoff Trophy Contenders Mini Back-To-Backs
Randomly inserted in packs at a rate of one in 17, this 60-card measure 2 1/4" by 3". These cards were inserted approximately one every 17 packs. The first 11 cards in the set feature Super Bowl XXX opponents: Dallas and Pittsburgh on each side.

1996 Pinnacle Bimbo Bread John Elway #5

The scarcity of this card is indicated by the fact that the highest graded of these cards is off-center. Since there are some available out there, I should probably hunt one down that's centered, but I'm too lazy. With some cards, I just like to have a version and don't make a ton of effort to replace it unless something just falls in my lap.

Apparently, these were distributed in Mexico. They're a bit more expensive than most cards on Ebay and will run you about $15, but they're out there.

1996 Upper Deck Silver Helmet Cards #AW5

Definitely a good looking card, but nothing special other than it features two of the greatest all-time Broncos. It's hard not to like a card with both Elway and Davis featured on it.

Randomly inserted in packs at a rate of one in 18, this 30-card standard-size set features double front Light F/X technology with each of the 30 NFL teams helmets on one side and two top stars on the other. We have sequenced this set below in alphabetical order within division order.


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