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The Tough Ones

The Tough Ones List (Updated October 22nd, 2023)

Unlike the previous page, "The Rare Ones", this page here is about that "Last Card" to complete one of my sets. None of these cards were your typical "Tom Brady" or "Joe Montana" cards. They were just common cards that for whatever reason weren't so common. For some of these cards, there should be no problem finding and buying them, but for whatever reason the cards listed below were "Tough" to find. 

The cards listed below were the "toughest" cards to find for their individual sets.

1) Kordell Stewart, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers - I saw this card once a long time ago when I may have needed about 10 cards to finish the set and had no idea that I wouldn't see it again for another 8 years. The hard part to imagine is that a card #'d to 3,000 would be this hard to find.

1997 Donruss Preferred: “Kordell Stewart” Staremasters #10A

2) Casey Hampton, DT, Pittsburgh Steelers - I saw this card once several years ago and thought it was priced a little too high. So I waited. And waited. And waited. I wouldn't complete this set for another 3 years waiting on this one card to show up again.

2001 Donruss Classics: “Casey Hampton” RC #141

3) Errict Rhett, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Are you kidding me? Errict Rhett. Yes sir. Errict Rhett is the hardest card to find from this set. John Elway, Brett Favre, Barry Sanders. Nope. You can find all of them pretty readily, but Errict'll be looking for him for a long time. I finally found him, but I had to wait several years.

1996 Playoff Absolute: “Errict Rhett” Metal XL #XL14

1996 Score Select Steve Young Prime Cuts

4) Steve Young, QB, San Francisco 49ers - Now Steve Young is a little bigger name than say, Errict Rhett, but still. This card shouldn't be any harder to find than any other from this set. I finally bought this card, but waited way too long to find it.

1996 Score Select: “Steve Young” Prime Cuts #4

1996 Score Summit: "Hit the Hole"

5) Rashaan Salaam, RB, Chicago Bears - When you compare this card to the Kordell Stewart card from 1) maybe you can see why this one would be harder to find. The Salaam card was only #'d to 1,000 and that is of a running back who washed out of the league in 4 years.

1996 Score Summit: “Rashaan Salaam” Hit the Hole #1

6) Rod Smith / Ed McCaffrey, WRs, Denver Broncos - I was beginning to think this card was going to be one of Fleer's missing cards, (See the "Do They Exist" page, item #2 and #3). When cards get down to the 400 range, (as this set is #'d to), they are substantially harder to find. However, after years of relentless searching, I found it. And it had 2 multi-colored swatches too. A bonus.

2001 Fleer Legacy: “Rod Smith / Ed McCaffrey” 1000 Yard Club Doubles #RS-EM

7) Dorsey Levens, RB, Green Bay Packers - I lost this card once online for $32 bucks. It then appeared again 3 days later for $152.25 by the same person who won it days before. It stayed that way until I won it 4 years later for $35.29. Sometimes it pays to wait. The card for $152.25 is still out there today.

2001 Upper Deck SP Game-Used Edition: “Dorsey Levens” Authentic Fabric #DL

2001 Topps Archives Len Dawson.jpg

8) Len Dawson, QB, Kansas City Chiefs - I ran thru this set pretty fast, until I got to Len's card. It took me years to find it. I had a feeling this card was one of those unlisted "SP" cards. I finally got it for $38.24.

2001 Topps Archives: “Len Dawson” Relic Seats #ASLD


9) Jim Kleinsasser, FB, Minnesota Vikings - I just don't understand this one. Jimmy Kleinsasser....

...really?  Not Donald Driver. Not Kurt Warner. No, Jimmy Kleinsasser was the last remaining card. And he was very difficult to find too. I don't have an answer for this one.

1999 Fleer Focus: “Jim Kleinsasser” Rookie #123

2001 Press Pass Rod Gardner

10) Rod Gardner, WR, Washington Redskins - When I started putting this set together back in 2003, I had no idea which cards were going to be the toughest to get. Well, Michael Vick and LaDainian Tomlinson were the toughest to get right out of the gate. Now fast forward almost twenty years and guess what I finally find? Rod Gardner. He was one of the last 4 cards I needed to complete this set. Who would have thought Rod Gardner would be one of the cards toughest to find. And it took close to 16 years to find him.

2001 Press Pass SE: “ Rod Gardner” Autograph #10

1997 Topps Stadium Club Steve Young Triu

11) Steve Young, QB, San Francisco 49ers - Unlike many of the other cards, this one was always out there, but it was always too expensive. Now the parallel version was always readily available for cheap, but I was collecting the standard version. For that reason, this card has its place on the "Tough Card" list.

1997 Topps Stadium Club: “Steve Young” Triumvirate I #T4B

1997 Collector's Edge Extreme Brett Favr

12) Brett Favre, QB, Green Bay Packers - I've had my chances with this card, (I've seen it up for sale 3 times), and I've lost all 3 auctions. But being a Brett Favre card and being one of the earliest "Game-Used" cards won't help me any. I finally won this card a good 18 years after I started putting this set together. That is a long wait.

1997 Collector's Edge Extreme: “Brett Favre” Game Gear Quads #11F

1997 Playoff Karim Abdul-Jabbar X-Tra Po

13) Karim Abdul-Jabbar, RB, Miami Dolphins - Every great once in a while, I'll spend the time getting every version or color of a player in a set. So I started this set several years ago. I had every version of every player; Stewart, Marino, Favre, Smith, Elway, George, Glenn, Martin, and Galloway. However, one version of Jabbar was missing. The Blue version. I looked for this card for more than 10 years. That was way harder than it should've been. 

1997 Playoff 1st & 10: “Karim Abdul-Jabbar” X-Tra Point #XP7-B

1997 Topps Stadium Club Will Blackwell Never Compromise.jpg

14) Will Blackwell, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers - There were 2 versions of the Topps Stadium Club set and their insert sets created back in the mid-90s, the regular issue, and the "Members Only" issue. I collected mainly the regular issue, (like I do for a large majority of my sets), however, for this card, the only one I could find was the "Members Only" version. I didn't find the regular version until about 10 years after I started putting this set together. That is a very long time to wait for a common card.

1997 Topps Stadium Club: Will Blackwell” Never Compromise #NC-9

1994 Playoff Contenders Gus Frerotte F.jpeg

1994 Playoff Contenders: Gus Frerotte / Reggie Brooks” Back-to-Back #49 (F)

15) Will Gus Frerotte / Reggie Brooks, QB / RB, Washington Redskins - This set was tough to complete. And these cards still command a high price tag almost 30 years later. The Gus Frerotte / Reggie Brooks card was the last one. It took me 20 years to complete this set. I don't know if that is unacceptable or unbelievable.  

1994 Playoff Contenders Reggie Brooks B.jpeg

1994 Playoff Contenders: Gus Frerotte / Reggie Brooks” Back-to-Back #49 (B)

2001 Bowman Chrome LaDainian Tomlinson Draft Day Cap.jpg

16) LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, San Diego Chargers - This might be the longest wait I've had for any card. I was so sure that this card DID NOT EXIST because it wasn't that I saw an auction for it and lost it, but I NEVER saw it. Not once, until I bought it in early 2023. A full 21 years after I started putting this set together.

2001 Bowman Chrome: "LaDainian Tomlinson” Draft Day Caps #DH-LT


17) Keyshawn Johnson, WR, New York Jets - I would rarely see this card, but when I did, it was going for way too much. I finally pulled the trigger on it in 2023 and finished the set a mere 20 years after I started. WOW!!

1996 Press Pass Paydirt: "Keyshawn Johnson” Autograph #8 (F)

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