Today was a great day for me. Not only did Cris Carter finally get his call to the hall, but Adrian Peterson got his deserved recognition as Offensive Player of the Year and NFL MVP. He is only the fourth running back to win the big award of the year, and may even be the last. Because this league is turning into a QB driven league, there may not be very many opportunities left for a running back to win.
All of that being the case, Peterson may end up being the most valuable running back in terms of hobby worth, when all is said and done. Considering that the category already includes Walter Payton and Emmitt Smith, that is saying a lot. So, as of right now, who are the most valuable guys? There is some debate to be had now, but the front runner is pretty clear. That might not be true in five years.
1. Walter Payton
Oddly enough, Payton may actually be one of the most valuable players overall in the hobby, as his early death did not allow for his signature to be overproduced. As of right now, his rookie, jersey cards, and autographs all sell for over 500 dollars, and that is ridiculous for a non-QB. Its more about signature rarity in terms of signatures on a trading card, so that will always be a factor. Peterson will sign likely until the day he can no longer hold a pen.
2. Emmitt Smith
This is similarly a case of signature rarity, but not because Smith has any indication that he wont sign again. Smith charges a ridiculous amount for his autograph, and it is pretty crazy to think that he wants more per card than they sell for. That means, each time a card company produces one of his autograph cards, they take a loss. Because his rookie was in the age where cards were produced hundreds of thousands at a time, the high end autographs are his lasting legacy. Unfortunately its tough to justify putting him in a set. Bottom line, he is the record holder for all time right now, and until that is broken he will always be welcome in any set as a lost dollar amount.
3. Adrian Peterson
Now that he has an MVP, a 2000 yard season, and hopefully a long career ahead of him, he will be the most valuable active running back until he retires, or until he gets injured again. Once he retires, and his HOF candidacy is solidified, his value will only get bigger. Right now, he is at his most expensive point since his record setting game in 2007, and I dont see that changing in the next few months or even years. Peterson is really the first running back in the Exquisite super high end era to have a rookie auto patch that is a MUST HAVE, so that will always elevate him above a lot of other guys.
4. Barry Sanders
Like Peterson, Sanders never really played on a great team, and never played in a Super Bowl. Sanders never truly had a season like Peterson has had, but there arent many people that have even come close. Eric Dickerson may have the record, but he carries little value because he played for so many teams. Smith, Sanders, Peterson and Payton only had one jersey on their backs (Minus a forgotten stint in Arizona for Emmitt), so they developed a hardcore fan following. Sanders is the epitome of this, but oversaturation of his autograph has hurt his value.
Its honestly crazy that guys like Ladanian Tomlinson and Jim Brown arent worth more, but they have not built the type of widespread appeal that Smith did playing for America’s team, and Peterson did playing at OU and for the ever popular Vikings franchise. Brown has relatively played in a different era, and as a result, today’s collector doesnt have a good reference point. Get to know these guys as the shift in the way RBs are viewed could tank any potential for a player to crack this list ever again.