Baseball may be "America's pastime," but you can make a strong case that football is truly America's favorite sport. Every fall Sunday, millions of Americans sit down in front of their televisions (or, if they are lucky enough, on a stadium seat) to watch the game. Many fans are so dedicated to their favorite team that they collect everything that bears the team's logo, including football cards.
Football cards were first sold in the 1800s, around the time that the earliest baseball cards hit the market. Tobacco manufacturers produced the cards and packaged them with their products. The NFL was still decades away from beginning operations at that time, so the cards featured college football teams from prestigious schools such as Yale, Princeton and Harvard.
Today, football cards features the professional stars of the day, from Tom Brady to Ray Lewis (and everyone in between). Football card collecting remains significantly less popular than baseball card collecting, but some people have speculated that the market is ripe for a boom in football card collecting (since the baseball cards market is nearly saturated and professional football is growing in popularity).
Some experts have suggested that football card collecting trails baseball card collecting in popularity because football players' faces are obscured by their facemasks and collectors feel less of a connection with the pictures on football cards than with baseball cards. Another possible explanation is that there are many unsung heroes on a football team and that it's hard to get excited about a card for a kicker or an offensive lineman.
Generally, all football cards will increase in value over time of they are kept in perfect condition. To ensure that your cards aren't damaged, it's a good idea to purchase plastic sleeves to store them in.
The most valuable football cards, as a rule, are cards produced prior to 1980 (which is around the time that cards began to be mass produced and their value was diminished). Cards from this era are hard to find in good condition. As with other sports cards, football rookie cards and autographed football cards are usually the most valuable.