xcellence isn't only measured in dollars & cents.
The cards elected into the 80s Football Cards Hall of Fame were chosen more for their overall look and design rather than value. If you have any cards from this era that you believe are worthy of consideration, please contact me with your nomination and it will be taken up by the HoF Cardboard Committee.
1985 Topps USFL #45
1989 Pro Set #391
1989 Score #216
There are a few reasons why this card and set were chosen as the first card to enter the Hall. For one, it's Walter Payton, enough said. Another reason for this selection is that the 1982 Topps set was the first to feature team logos since 1969. The 1970 Topps set marked the first series to merge both NFL and AFL players into a single set. In what I can only assume was a cost saving decision, Topps decided not to pay NFL Properties for the rights to use team logos. As a result, from 1970-81, cards showing players wearing their helmets had to be airbrushed clean of any logo and produced some really awful looking cards (except for Browns players and Steelers pictured from the right side). So the 1982 Topps set was huge for football card collectors, which included some of the best-looking cards of the decade in the "In Action" sub-series. And the best of that bunch was clearly the Walter Payton #303. As an added bonus, the Buccaneers "Creamsicle" unis share the stage on this cardboard classic.
Score entered the football card making business in 1989 and undoubtedly took the hobby to a whole new level, giving Topps its first real competition in over 20 years! Easily one of the best (and simplest) card designs ever, the 1989 Score set is still one of my all-time favorites and needed to be represented in the Inaugural Hall of Fame Class. What makes these cards stand out from previous card designs of the 80s, is the fact that almost every single card in this set features an action shot, not to mention a second photo on the back. In previous years, Topps seemed to make it a point to feature head shots on the majority of their cards, making for a lot of boring-looking cardboard. Score changed all of that in 1989. With so many great player shots filling this set, there were several cards that could have been chosen as the first to make it in, but the Stephone Paige #216 got the call. The career Chief caught 377 passes for 6,341 yards and 49 TDs, but it turned out to be his play on special teams that made this card a classic. A snowy Arrowhead Stadium in the background and the appearance of the great original Seahawks unis only add to the beauty, with the matching red border and yellow lettering clinched it for this card to get the call from the Hall!