The Lawrence Taylor Rookie and Other Vintage Cards


Lawrence Taylor Rookie Card Info

When collectors talk about Lawrence Taylor’s rookie card they are usually talking about his 1982 Topps #434 card, but that isn’t the only Lawrence Taylor rookie. Topps issued several more Lawrence Taylor’s in 1982, there is a truly rare oddball card on there, and Taylor also made a cameo appearance on a Fleer team card. In this article, I’ll walk you through all of these cards.

1982 Topps Lawrence Taylor - The Best Lawrence Taylor Rookie
1982 Topps Lawrence Taylor – The Best Lawrence Taylor Rookie

1982 Topps Lawrence Taylor #434

The 1982 Topps Lawrence Taylor Rookie Card, #434, is Lawrence Taylor’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 1982 Topps set and could be found in packs or acquired by purchasing the full factory set. It’s not the only Lawrence Taylor card in the set, but it is the most valuable because it’s his regular solo card and not part of a subset.

Lawrence Taylor is widely considered one of the top defenders in NFL history. He was such a disruptive force that NFL teams had to change game plans and blocking schemes to try to limit the damage he would inflict. He was a vicious pass rusher who logged double-digit sacks for 7 seasons in a row (1984-1990) and was named defensive player of the year on three separate occasions. Any rookie card for a Hall of Fame player will attract the attention of collectors, but there are additional factors that make the 1982 Topps Lawrence Taylor card even more sought after.

Other Factors:

  • MVP Winner on Defense: The NFL MVP award is generally thought of as an award for offensive players, usually quarterbacks, and seldom has a defensive player even on the list of candidates. That’s what makes Lawrence Taylor’s MVP award so special. When he took home this trophy in 1986 it made only the second defensive player in NFL history to do so. It happens so rarely that Lawrence Taylor will almost certainly always be a member of a small and elite group of defenders.

  • Greatest Defender Ever: Naming the greatest players in history is a matter of opinion and always debatable, but what’s not debatable is that Lawrence Taylor always appears high on the list of greatest defensive players. Most of the time you see his name in the very top spot. While players like Reggie White, Deion Sanders, and Ronnie Lott deserve consideration, the fact that Taylor is so highly regarded historically ensures there will always be interest in his cards.

  • Post-Football Celebrity: When Lawrence Taylor finished his playing career he didn’t just fade into the background. Instead, he remained in the public eye by appearing in various TV shows and movies. He can be found acting with Adam Sandler in The Waterboy, playing Luther Lavay in Any Given Sunday, on an episode of HBO’s The Sopranos, and dancing with Edyta Śliwińska in several episodes of the ABC’s Dancing with the Stars. When a great player remains visible to collectors in pop culture after their playing days are up it only enhances the value of their cards.

1982 Topps Set Details

The 1982 Topps Football set marks the end of the “airbrush era,” because it was the first set since 1969 where Topps was licensed to show the logos of the NFL teams. Because of this, Topps worked a graphic of the team’s helmet prominently into the design of the card. This set contains 538 cards and has several a handful of significant rookie cards including Lawrence Taylor (#434), Joe Montana (#488), Ronnie Lott (#486), and Anthony Munoz (#51).

  • Year: 1982
  • Manufacturer: Topps
  • Number of cards: 538
  • Subset:
    • Record Breakers (#1-6)
    • Playoffs (#7-9)
    • Football Brothers (#263-270)
    • In Action (not sequential)

1982 Topps Lawrence Taylor (#434) Card Details

  • Card no: #434 of 528
  • Name on Card: Lawrence Taylor
  • Position: Outside Linebacker
  • Height: 6′ 3″
  • Weight: 242
  • College: North Carolina
  • Drafted: Giants #1-1981
  • Acquired: Via Draft
  • Born: 2-3-59, Williamsburg, Va.
  • Home: Chapel Hill, N.C.

Front of the card

Design: The 1982 Topps Lawrence Taylor #434 card has a vertical layout with a white border. The card has the Giants helmet with the team name below it in the lower-left corner of the card. Lawrence Taylor’s name and position, OLB, is on a blue flag shape at the bottom right. The card has a red inner border that incorporates the Topps logo surrounding a photo of Taylor sitting on the bench. In the photo, he is in a position that resembles “the thinking man” pose. Above his photo are the words “NFC ALL Pro” honoring what is a rare achievement for a rookie.

1982 Topps Lawrence Taylor rookie #434
1982 Topps Lawrence Taylor rookie #434 – Front
Verdict: Rookie Card

Buy the 1982 Topps Lawrence Taylor #434 on eBay (affiliate link), because it’s the most widely recognized Taylor rookie card.

Back of the card

The back of the 1982 Topps Lawrence Taylor card #434 has a horizontal layout and is primarily yellow. The number is in the upper left corner of the card on a football helmet graphic. His name and position, outside linebacker, is at the top of the card. Most of the card consists of a blurb about Taylor’s rookie season – there are no stats on this card. The bottom of the card has Taylor’s height, weight, college, draft history, and home.

1982 Topps Lawrence Taylor rookie #434 - Back
1982 Topps Lawrence Taylor rookie #434 – Back

Not only was Lawrence selected to the NFL’s All-Rookie Team for the 1981 season, but he was named as the league’s Defensive Rookie of the Year. His 1981 statistics included 72 tackles, 41 assists, a fumble recovery, and 9 1/2 quarterback sacks for losses of 87 yards. Lawrence joined the Giants with awesome reputation as “one-man demolition crew”.

1982 Topps Lawrence Taylor rookie (#434)

Lawrence Taylor Rookie Card Value

The Lawrence Taylor 1982 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 Lawrence Taylor rookie card in various conditions.

1982 Topps Lawrence Taylor Rookie Auction Prices
1982 Topps Lawrence Taylor Rookie Auction Prices (source: www.psacard.com 11/23/21)

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 1982 Topps Lawrence Taylor rookie card #434.


Other Relevant Lawrence Taylor Cards

The 1982 Topps Lawrence Taylor rookie card (#434) is the most famous, but still just one of many Lawrence Taylor cards made in 1982. There is another card from the Topps set, a card from the Fleer Team Action set that offers collectors a unique inexpensive rookie-year Taylor, and a card from the Marketcom set that gives collectors another high-end rookie to seek. The 1982 Topps sticker set, although not cards, adds a few Lawrence Taylor rookies to the mix.

1982 Topps In Action Lawrence Taylor #435

Several players in the 1982 Topps set got a separate In Action card in addition to their regular card. These cards are always the next card in the set which gives Taylor a #434 and #435 rookie card. The In Action card is less valuable even though they were produced in the same numbers. The photo on this card shows Lawrence Taylor trying to get off of a block by Dallas Cowboys’ Pro Bowl tight end Doug Cosbie.

1982 Topps In Action Lawrence Taylor #435
1982 Topps In Action Lawrence Taylor #435
Verdict: Subset Rookie

Buy the 1982 Topps In Action Lawrence Taylor on eBay (affiliate link)


1982 Marketcom Mini Poster Lawrence Taylor #11

The 1982 Marketcom set of mini-posters included 48 5 1/2″ by 8 1/2″ oversized cards that consisted of large photos with a white border and a facsimile signature on the photo. This oddball card is the rarest Lawrence Taylor rookie. If the design of this card looks familiar, it should. Marketcom is the company that produced the classic Sports Illustrated posters featuring the same design.

1982 Maraketcom Lawrence Taylor #11 - Front
1982 Maraketcom Lawrence Taylor #11 – Front
1982 Maraketcom Lawrence Taylor #11 - Back
1982 Maraketcom Lawrence Taylor #11 – Back
Verdict: Oddball Rookie Card

Shop for the 1982 Marketcom Lawrence Taylor Mini-Poster on eBay (rare) (affiliate link)


1982 Topps Sticker Lawrence Taylor #92

The 1982 Topps sticker set was sold in packs and made to be placed in a Topps sticker album that was sold separately. This is Lawrence Taylor’s regular sticker in the set. This is a common and relatively inexpensive Lawrence Taylor rookie.

1982 Topps Sticker Lawrence Taylor #92
1982 Topps Sticker Lawrence Taylor #92 – Front
1982 Topps Sticker Lawrence Taylor #92
1982 Topps Sticker Lawrence Taylor #92
Verdict: Oddball Rookie Card

Shop for the 1982 Topps Lawrence Taylor Sticker on eBay (affiliate link)


1982 Topps Foil “All-Pro” Sticker Lawrence Taylor #144

The 1982 Topps All-Pro sticker is part of a subset that was printed on gold foil. These stickers only feature players who were named to the Pro Bowl team in 1981. There are two versions of this sticker that are identical on the front but have different backs. One was part of the normal set, but the “Coming Soon” version was part of a 16-sticker preview set. Neither version carries significantly more value than the other.

1982 Topps Foil Sticker Lawrence Taylor #144
Foil 1982 Topps “All-Pro” Sticker Lawrence Taylor #144
1982 Topps Foil Sticker Lawrence Taylor #144
1982 Topps Foil Sticker Lawrence Taylor #144
1982 Topps Foil Sticker (Coming Soon) Lawrence Taylor #144
1982 Topps Foil Sticker (Coming Soon) Lawrence Taylor #144
Verdict: Oddball Rookie Card

Shop for the 1982 Topps Foil All Pro Lawrence Taylor #144 (affiliate link)


1982 Fleer Team Action New York Giants “Negative Yardage” #36

The 1982 Fleer Team Action set didn’t feature individual players, but instead showed in-action plays for the offense and defense of each team. Card #36 features the New York Giants defense trying to make a play on Hall of Fame running back Tony Dorsett. On the left side of the card, you can see Lawrence Tayler, number 56, in pursuit of the play. Even though this isn’t a Lawrence Taylor card, the fact that Taylor appears on it during his rookie year makes it an interesting collectible.

1982 Fleer New York Giants "Negative Yardage" #36
1982 Fleer Team Action New York Giants “Negative Yardage” #36
Verdict: Cameo Rookie

Shop for the 1982 Fleer Team Action New York Giants “Negative Yardage” card on eBay (affiliate link)


Lawrence Taylor’s Legacy

Lawrence Taylor burst onto the scene in 1981 by logging 9.5 sacks, winning the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year, and being named a first-team Pro Bowler. After his rookie year, Taylor continued to impress by remaining a fixture on Pro Bowl and All-Pro teams and by winning the NFL MVP award in 1986. He had double-digit sacks every season between 1984 and 1990 and finished his career with 142 regular-season sacks. He is considered by many historians to be the best defensive player in this history of the game. Here are a few of Lawrence Taylor’s career accomplishments.

  • 1 time NFL Sack Leader (1986)
  • 1981 AP Defensive Rookie of the Year
  • 3 time AP Defensive Player of the Year (1981, 1982, 1986)
  • 1 time NFL MVP (1986)
  • 8 time All-Pro
  • 10 time Pro Bowler
  • 2 time Super Bowl Champion
  • 1986 Bert Bell Award Winner
  • Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1999

Get a Lawrence Taylor Rookie for Your Collection

Do you want to own a 1982 Topps Lawrence Taylor Rookie (#434)? 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.


Want Lawrence Taylor Merch?

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All About Lawrence Taylor Rookies Infographic

Lawrence Taylor Rookie Cards Infographic
Lawrence Taylor Rookie Cards Infographic

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