The Power of Nostalgia!

I first started collecting football cards in 1990. I got my baseball start a little sooner but by the time I hit 7th grade, football was taking over. Our local high school team was very good, the NFL was loaded with Superstars and a little game called Tecmo Super Bowl (TSB) was released on the NES. I have written about TSB and the effect it had on me as a kid and a collector quite extensively on my personal blog. It was such a big part of my childhood, I still own and play the game 27 years after it was released. I still try to beat my personal best stats, I use the same 8 plays no matter what team I use and I still have the callous on my left thumb from that NES directional button used to dodge diving tacklers.

When that game was released, my interest in football was multiplied by 100 and I jumped into the football card market head first. I still collect football cards more than I do baseball and fantasy football has taken the place of video games for the most part. But I will always look back on the sets from 1990 with fondness. I try to rip packs from those sets whenever I can find them relatively cheap. My personal favorite set from that year was Pro Set because the design was so clean and there were so many unique cards in the set. I was not a huge fan of Topps that year because of the fancy new designs available at the time. Score fell in between the two and was one of the more prevalent sets available at my local Wal-Mart.

I must have ripped enough packs to equal 4 or 5 boxes during that season but I never actually purchased a full box. No, I did my ripping 2-3 packs at a time and they averaged about .50 per pack. In 1990, we were after rookies and insert cards but we cared about base stars as well. The sets then were about the players and the design more than value and there is a big part of the hobby that I miss from those days. I enjoy a nice 1 of 1 or autograph parallel as much as the next guy but that hunt can sometimes blur my vision when it comes to nice base cards that seem to get discarded like pack wrappers from my youth. Luckily for me, my LCS always has a steady supply of the good stuff (Junk Wax) to satisfy the inner child that still resides in my heart.

“…there is still something fun about being able to buy a box of cards I never could afford as a kid…”

Sports cards are one of the things in my life that can actually take me back in time to a day when my chief concerns would make my current self scoff. Those included making sure I hit record fast enough when my favorite song came on the radio, trying to organize backyard basketball games and whether or not my next report card was going to threaten my sports card supply from the parents. Life was good for me as a kid and I don’t ever want to get too far away from those days, whether I am 40 now or not. I also have 2 kids of my own and I want them to enjoy the little things like I did. Because I know how quickly life can make you lose focus on the little things and make you start focusing on the things that seem too big for you to handle. That’s why I take a step back from “real life” when I can and travel back to the carefree days of my childhood.

I visited my LCS this past weekend and they had a sweet box of 1990 Score Football for an appealing $7.95. That is cheaper than some packs today and they provide a direct doorway to our youth. I don’t know why anyone would pass up a box of “junk wax” for less than $10. I understand that collectors today are all about value and scarcity but these pieces of cardboard really do have value if you take the time to appreciate them. If you’ve been watching the market recently, you may actually even notice that cards from that overproduced era are gaining some popularity thanks to the card companies “losing touch”, so to speak, with collectors my age. I buy lots of new product and I like some of the cards hitting the market but I don’t “collect” new products like I do the classic stuff. Plus, there is still something fun about being able to buy a box of cards I never could afford as a kid.


2-5/8 x 3-3/4″ 2 mil POLYETHYLENE NO flap.

This box of 1990 Score is from Series I and contains 36 packs with 16 cards and a “magic motion” trivia card in each. The packs were little plastic baggies that could not be compromised without you knowing it. Even though Upper Deck made the tamper proof packaging popular in 1989, these little baggies could only be stretched so far before they either ripped or made the images on the bag look odd. They probably wouldn’t be able to withstand the searchers of today but they definitely got the job done in 1990. Take a walk with me down memory lane!


This is a who’s who of legendary quarterbacks! The Score design is as colorful as I remember and really isn’t all that bad. I remember seeing too much Score and getting tired of it but after being away from it for a while, it’s really a good looking retro card.

Running Backs

I missed out on a base Bo Jackson but I did hit an insert that you’ll see later. The running backs in Series 1 are all good but there weren’t many in the Series. I loved Christian Okoye back in the day. I was also a frequent Bengals player so the tandem of Ickey and Brooks was awesome to see!

Wide Receivers

Another slim checklist of greats but you can’t argue with the talent. Jerry Rice is considered one of (if not THE) greatest of all time. Sterling Sharpe is vastly underrated as a legendary receiver from the 80’s and 90’s. I had to include Rison because he was one of the rookies I chased in 1990 because of his trade to the Falcons.

Tight End

Only one tight end from Series 1 made the cut. Keith Jackson was the primary target for Randall Cunningham when he wasn’t running.

The Returners

I had to include these three return men because they were absolute studs. Meggett got a lot of action out of the backfield as well but he was tremendous on Special Teams.

Defensive Linemen

Here is a wrecking crew! These guys were scary and they knew how to get after the quarterback. Just look at how Bruce Smith smothered John Stephens!


The stud linebackers were thin in Series 1 as well but these were all great players. Jessie Tuggle played college football about an hour from where I live and was one of the greatest Falcon linebackers ever!

Defensive Backs

I never met a Deion Sanders card I didn’t like. The same can be said for Eric Allen. A few of these players would not have been able to play within the current NFL rules for hitting. Ronnie Lott, Dennis Smith, Joey Browner, David Fulcher and Rod Woodson were crushers in the secondary and made wide receivers think twice before going across the middle.

Ground Force

Here is the Bo insert I mentioned earlier. There is a nice Barry Sanders here as well. And of course, another Okoye was a welcome pull.

Hot Gun

Clearly, this insert set is loaded with studs. I still remember owning that Warren Moon when I was a kid. I LOVED THAT CARD!


Finally, the rookies. Rodney Hampton likely had the best pro career out of this bunch. But in 1990, Reggie Rembert, Pat Terrell, Blair Thomas and Andre Ware were the hot rookies to find. Barry Foster had a very nice career too as a Pittsburgh Steeler. My personal favorite in this stack is Percy Snow. I collected all the Percy Snow cards I could get my hands on but his career didn’t play out like I had hoped.

If you collected cards during this time, you will most likely remember all of these cards and names. These cards are a part of my collecting DNA and they will always be special to me. I could care less about the $7.95 price tag or the relatively low value the cards carry in the price guide. These cards represent a snapshot of my youth and I can remember my bedroom where I opened them, the shelf at Wal-Mart where I bought them and the players that I targeted because of Tecmo. The card companies can pump out all the new products they want but as long as sets like these remain available, I am going to continue to buy them.

What say you about 1990 Score?


Trading Card BOXES – White Corrugated. One-piece boxes. LxWxH

Holds 660 cards 11-3/4 x 3-3/4 x 2-3/4″ (I.D.) Cards store sideways. Made from 200# test corrugated cardboard. Just fold together; needs no tape or glue.


  1. We still have a 1990 Score football cards complete set with the untouched cards still inside …. similar to an unexhumed crypt! Unfortunately, it’s no longer factory sealed, but we may have to pull them out after the holiday to check out the “5 bonus cards” that came with the complete set which was purchased for maybe $25+ back in 1990 … maybe even more! There are some great names in that set Dub! -M. Carlson (SpartyHawk Cache)