The Dan Marino Rookie and Other Vintage Cards
Dan Marino Rookie Card Info
When collectors talk about Dan Marino’s rookie card they are usually talking about his 1984 Topps #123 card, but that isn’t the only Dan Marino rookie. Marino appeared on two other cards in the regular 1984 Topps set and he was also in a Topps insert set. Topps included Marino in its annual sticker set and there are a host of other oddball rookies. These include discs, postcards, and odd-shaped regional issues. One of my favorites is a rare issue that was released in 1983, predating all of his other rookies.
1984 Topps Dan Marino #123
The 1984 Topps Dan Marino Rookie Card, #123, is Dan Marino’s most valuable rookie card and one of the most sought-after football cards of the 1980s. This rookie card was included in the regular-issue 1984 Topps set and could be found in packs, rack packs, or acquired by purchasing the full factory set. It’s not the only Dan Marino card in the set, but it is the most valuable because it’s his regular solo card and not part of a subset.
Dan Marino was picked 27th in the 1983 NFL draft by the Miami Dolphins and he made an immediate impact in the league. He started by throwing an impressive 20 touchdown passes in his rookie season, but it was he second year when it became clear he was different. Not only did he lead the league in touchdown passes in 1984, but he completely smashed the long-standing single season record by throwing 48 touchdown passes. He continued to dominate the league statistically throughout the mid 1980s and played at a high level until his retirement in 1999. When he decided to step away from the NFL, he had rewritten the record book and owned nearly every major lifetime passing record. He was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 2005 and is considered one of the best passers in NFL history.
Any rookie card of a Hall of Fame quarterback is sought after by collectors, but there are additional factors that make the Dan Marino rookie card even more valuable:
- Pioneer of the Passing Era: Dan Marino will forever be remembered as the quarterback who ushered the NFL into the passing era. In 1984 Dan Marino threw for an NFL record of 48 touchdowns smashing the previous record of 36 set by Y.A. Tittle in 1963. In 15 seasons before 1984, only three times did the league leader in TD passes reach 30. In the next 15 years, the league leader threw for at least 30 touchdowns 13 times. Marino’s arm transformed the NFL into the passing league that it is today.
- Greatest QB to Never: Most great quarterbacks in NFL history won championship rings, but unfortunately Dan Marino’s supporting cast was never strong enough for him to win the Super Bowl. He made it to the Super Bowl in 1984, but the Dolphins were no match for the 49ers. As future great quarterbacks try to earn their first ring there will inevitably be discussions about the greatest players who failed to do so. For this reason, Dan Marino is likely to be mentioned long into the future for being one of the greatest QBs to never lead a championship team.
- Post-Career Visibility: Some players fade into the background after their careers are over while others remain stars. Dan Marino falls into the latter category because of all the activities of his post-playing career. In addition to working as an NFL analyst, Marino owned a NASCAR team, started an autism foundation, appeared in movies (Ace Ventura: Pet Detective), TV shows (The Simpsons), and Music Videos (Only Wanna Be with You by Hootie and the Blowfish). These are just a few examples of how Marino stayed relevant in pop culture. Card values are partially driven by popularity, and these types of appearances help new collectors remain interested in retired players.
1984 Topps Set Details
The 1984 Topps Football set is very popular, largely because of all the great rookie cards it contains. It is made up of 396 cards that are grouped by team. Within each team, the players are ordered alphabetically with a team leader card at the beginning of the grouping. Some players have an “Instant Replay” in-action card that follows directly after their solo card.
As I mentioned above, this set is loaded with rookie cards of star players — several of whom are in the NFL Hall of Fame. It includes rookie cards for Hall of Famers Dan Marino (#123), John Elway (#63), Howie Long (#111), Eric Dickerson (#280), Darrell Green (#380), and Andre Tippett (#143). It also includes rookies for Pro Bowlers Roger Craig (#353) and Dave Kreig (#195).
This set would have been even more loaded if the USFL had not signed Reggie White, Steve Young, Jim Kelly and Herschel Walker. All four of those players have 1984 rookie cards, but they are found in the 1984 Topps USFL set.
- Year: 1984
- Manufacturer: Topps
- Number of cards: 396
- Record Breakers (#1-6)
- Playoff highlights (#7-9)
- League Leaders (#202-207)
- Team Leaders (non-sequential numbering)
- Instant Replay (non-sequential numbering)
1984 Topps Dan Marino (#123) Card Details
- Card no: #123 of 396
- Name on Card: Dan Marino
- Position: Quarterback
- Height: 6′ 3″
- Weight: 220
- College: Pittsburgh
- Drafted: Dolphins #1-1983
- Acquired: Via Draft
- Born: 9-15-61, Pittsburgh, PA
- Home: Pittsburgh, PA
Front of the card
Design: The 1984 Topps Dan Marino #123 card has a vertical layout with a white border. Dan Marino is pictured waist up standing in his white Dolphins uniform. The photo is framed by blue and orange graphics with the player’s name above the photo. Below Marino’s photo is a circle with the Dolphins logo, team name, and position. A white stripe denotes that Dan Marino made the AFC Pro Bowl in what was his rookie season.
Buy the 1984 Topps Dan Marino #123 on eBay (affiliate link), because it’s the most widely recognized Marino rookie card.
Back of the card
The back of the 1984 Topps Dan Marino card #123 has a horizontal layout on gray card stock with green accents. The top left corner of the card has the card number printed in green. Dan Marino’s name, position, draft history, method acquired by Dolphins, birth, and home information are just to the right of it. Below that, near the middle of the card, are stats from Marino’s rookie season. The bottom of the card has a blurb about Marino’s playing strengths and his rookie season. The bottom right corner of the card has a cartoon quarterback preparing to pass and text below it that says “Dan first became a quarterback in the 4th-grade pee wee league.”
Dan is a classic dropback quarterback with a rifle arm and quick release. He was accorded All-Pro recognition last season and was named to Pro Football Weekly’s All-Rookie Team. Dan is adept at reading defenses & picking up blitzes.1984 Topps Dan Marino rookie (#123)
Dan Marino Rookie Card Value
The Dan Marino 1984 Topps card is one of the most valuable football cards of the 1980s. The chart below is from the popular card grading site, PSA. It shows auction prices for the Dan Marino rookie card in various conditions.
Keep in mind that prices fluctuate. While PSA is a great way to find out the value of a card, we recommend going to eBay to see what cards are currently selling for on the world’s most popular auction site. Click here to view current auctions for the 1984 Topps Dan Marino rookie card #123.
Other Relevant Dan Marino Cards
The 1984 Topps Dan Marino rookie card (#123) is Marino’s most famous rookie, but it’s just one of many Dan Marino cards that can be considered Dan Marino rookies. Topps made several other Dan Marino cards and stickers in 1984. There are also several oddball cards (and a disc), which is typical for this era. Two of these oddball cards were produced in 1983, making them the first Dan Marino cards ever made.
1979-83 Coral-Lee Dan Marino Postcards
Coral-Lee postcards were produced between 1979 and 1983. There were 28 postcards in this set, two of which feature Dan Marino. One of them is an in-action photo and the other is a photo of him speaking with coach Don Shula. Sometimes there is ambiguity about when these postcards were made, however, with the two Dan Marino postcards there is no question they were made in 1983 since he was in college at Pittsburgh before that. These are the first cards featuring Dan Marino that were ever produced, but they are not trading cards. This makes them rare and valuable collectibles.
Shop for the Coral-Lee Dan Marino postcard on eBay (rare) (affiliate link), because it’s rare and the first Dan Marino card.
1984 Topps Instant Replay Dan Marino #124
The 1984 Topps Instant Replay Dan Marino card is a second rookie card for Marino in this set. Instant Replay subset cards are sprinkled throughout the set. The photo shows Marino dropping back for a pass in a road game against the San Francisco 49ers. Pro Bowl linebacker Jack “Hacksaw” Reynolds can be seen in the picture trying to defend the play.
This card is a much less expensive Marino rookie than his #123 single card.
Buy the 1984 Instant Replay Dan Marino on eBay (affiliate link), because it’s less expesive than the 1984 Topps #123 card.
1984 Topps “1983 NFL Passing Leaders”
The 1984 Topps “1983 NFL Passing Leaders” card is another card from the 1984 Topps football set that is a Dan Marino rookie card. This card is less valuable than the #123 and #124 cards because it is a subset card that contains another player. It’s a great Marino rookie option for value-minded collectors.
Shop for the 1984 Topps Passing Leaders card on eBay (affiliate link)
1984 Topps Glossy Dan Marino #6
The 1984 Topps Glossy Dan Marino is an insert card that could only be obtained by purchasing a rack pack. Rack packs contained 54 cards in a hanging cellophane package with cards separated into three 18-card sections. The front and back card from each section was visible and the glossy insert was always the front card in the top section. This insert set featured only 11 cards.
Shop for the 1984 Topps Glossy Insert Dan Marino on eBay (affiliate link)
1984 7-Eleven Super-Star Sports Coins Dan Marino Disc
The 1984 7-Eleven Dan Marino disc is from a set of 40 discs that use lenticular technology. This allows the picture on the front of the card to change based on the viewing angle. This technique was sometimes used to create “action,” but this set uses the technology to flip back and forth between a headshot and a photo of Marino throwing a pass.
Shop for the 1984 Topps Foil All Pro Dan Marino #144 (affiliate link)
1984 Dolphins Police Dan Marino
This rare set of 1984 Dolphins cards was printed to be handed out by police in the Miami area. The front of the card has a photo of Marino dropping back to throw a pass inside of a white, teal, and orange border and the back of the card has a safety tip targeted to kids. This Marino rookie card strikes me as undervalued and may be a good investment opportunity for collectors.
Shop for the 1984 Dolphins Police Dan Marino card on eBay (affiliate link)
1984 Topps Sticker Dan Marino #222
The 1984 Topps Dan Marino Sticker #222 is another Topps issue that can be considered a Dan Marino rookie. The photo shows Dan Marino taking a practice snap. We can tell it’s a practice snap because guard Roy Foster can be seen to Marino’s right without a helmet on. This sticker can be quite expensive in high-grade condition.
Shop for the 1985 Topps Sticker Dan Marino on eBay (affiliate link)
1984 Topps Foil All-Pro Sticker Nolan Cromwell #132 / Dan Marino #144
The 1984 Topps Foil All-Pro sticker featuring Dan Marino is another sticker from this set that can be considered a Dan Marino rookie. Marino takes up the right half of this sticker with three-time All-Pro safety Nolan Cromwell on the other. While still carrying some value, this is a less expensive Marino sticker rookie than his solo sticker.
Dan Marino’s Legacy
Dan Marino is perhaps the best pure passing quarterback in NFL history and usually ranks in the top-10 lists of greatest quarterbacks of all time. He burst onto the scene in 1983 and led the Miami Dolphins to Super Bowl XIX in 1984 after throwing 48 touchdowns during the regular season. The Dolphins lost to the San Francisco 49ers and never surrounded Marino with enough talent to make it back, which makes Marino one of the best signal-callers to never win the big game.
Despite his lack of a Super Bowl ring, Marino went on to accomplish incredible feats in football. He was a fixture in the AFC playoffs and Pro Bowl games for the majority of his career. He held nearly every significant passing record at the time of his retirement including all-time marks for passing yards and touchdown passes. Although most of those records have since been broken, the numbers he put up in the mid-1980s were unheard of and helped to shepherd the NFL into the passing-centric league it is today. Here are just some of Dan Marino’s career accomplishments:
- 6 time Passes Completed leader
- 5 time Passing Yards leader
- 6 time Passes Completed leader
- 3 time Passing TDs leader
- 1 time Passer Rating leader
- 4 time Passing Yards per Game leader
- 2 time Passing TD % leader
- 8 time Pro Bowl
- 3 time All-Pro (1984, 1985, 1986)
- Bert Bell Award Winner (1984)
- AP Offensive Player of the Year (1984)
- 1984 NFL MVP
- 1994 PFWA Comeback Player of the Year
- 1998 Walter Payton Man of the Year
- Elected into the NFL Hall of Fame in 2005
Get a Dan Marino Rookie for Your Collection
Do you want to own a 1984 Topps Dan Marino Rookie (#123)? If so, we recommend starting your search on eBay – the world’s #1 card trading place. Even if you’re not planning to buy one just yet, it’s fun to look at all the great cards currently for sale.
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All About Dan Marino Rookies Infographic
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