Upper Deck: Legends

My Upper Deck: Legends Collection (Updated December 29th, 2021)

In 1997 Upper Deck would release one of the most monumental sets of all time; the "Upper Deck Legends" title.  For years card companies would be caught with the unenviable task of what to do with the sports icons that have retired? Joe Namath, Johnny Unitas, Jim Brown and Dick Butkus, some of the hobbies most sought after players were now retired.....until 1997. The 1997 "Upper Deck Legends" set changed the hobby forever. The base set by itself was fantastic with its never-before-seen photography, (See the 1997 Upper Deck Legends "Ozzie Newsome" #154 left), but it was the autograph parallel set that went off the rails, (See the 1997 Upper Deck Legends "Larry Wilson" autograph #AL-70 below right). The 162-card autograph set was and still is one of the most sought after autograph sets of all time and with "Short-Printed" autos from players like Joe Montana, Walter Payton, and Jim Brown you can see why.

Not only did the '97 Legends set unveil one of the most stunning autograph sets of all time, but Upper Deck also had a set for the rest of us, (See the 1997 Upper Deck Legends "Billy Sims / Chuck

1997 Upper Deck Legends: “Ozzie Newsome” #154

1997 Upper Deck Legends: “Larry Wilson” Autograph #AL-70

1999 Upper Deck Century Legends: Deacon Jones” #13

1997 Upper Deck Legends: “Billy Sims / Chuck Foreman” Marquee Matchups #MM-20

For some unknown reason, at least to me, Upper Deck never released a Legends title in 1998. Instead, Upper Deck skipped a year and instead returned in 1999.

1999 Upper Deck Century Legends: Charlie Joiner” Epic Signatures #CJ

In 1999, the Upper Deck Legends title returned with a smaller set, but not without the same luster that it had in '97, (See the 1999 Upper Deck Century Legends "Deacon Jones" #13 right). Upper Deck actually called these cards "Century Legends" and Beckett classifies them as a different set, but I 

The '99 "Upper Deck Century Legends" release didn't have the 162-card autograph set that the '97 set had, but it did have one. The '99 autograph set wasn't anything remotely close to the '97 offering, but it still provided a solid lineup of NFL Legends to choose from, (See the 1999 Upper Deck Century Legends "Charlie Joiner" #CJ Epic Signatures left).  The pictures were all back and white and there were no action shots, but they were still amazing. The '99 release also had a very simple 9-card jersey set, (See the 1999 Upper Deck Century Legends "Warren Moon" Jerseys of the Century #GJ3 right). This was the first Jersey set inserted into the Legends title and with it being only 9 cards, it was easy to put together.

 

1999 Upper Deck Century Legends: "Warren Moon” Jerseys of the Century #GJ3

2000 Upper Deck Century Legends: "Lee Roy Selmon” #81

2000 Upper Deck Century Legends: “Mel Blount” Autographs #MB *

The 2000 Upper Deck Legends release went back to their roots. The 2000 set looked a little like their '97 brethren than their '99. The photography, yet again, was amazing. It was not used on previous cards nor by other card companies, (See the 2000 Upper Deck Century Legends "Lee Roy Selmon" #81 below left). The only problem with this set, (I'm like a broken record on this one), is that it shrunk in size for the 2nd year in a row. The 2000 release was a paltry 132-cards. The Legends title was going in the wrong direction.

Regardless of the set size, the 2000 Upper Deck Century Legends release was another stellar card set. Included with the base set was another gigantic autograph set, (See the 2000 Upper Deck Century Legends "Mel Blount" autograph #MB below right). The 1999 release had an autograph set of only 30 cards, but the 2000 release jumped up to 68; More than half of the base set. That is the way you do it. Kudos to Upper Deck for getting the collector closer to the game.

 

The 2001 Upper Deck Legends release was another solid offering to the hobby and unlike the previous two offerings, this release actually went up in the # of cards; to 180. I don't yet own the base set, but that didn't stop me from putting the Past Patterns set together, (See the 2001 Upper Deck Legends "Rod Woodson" Past Patterns #PP-RW2 below left). I really liked the "Past Patterns" memorabilia set. I thought the card front was a great design and the jersey swatch was huge. The 2001 release had 5 insert sets; 4 of the 5 being either an autograph or memorabilia set.

 

*Note: I do not own the card above. Unfortunately, I haven't taken the time to put this set together. 

Foreman" #MM-20 below left). A simple, yet solid insert set from Upper Deck. Does it look familiar? Kinda has the look of the Upper Deck Black Diamond title, doesn't it?

don't - for simplicity. I didn't like them as much as the '97 release, simply because I thought the border was too big and I thought it over-whelmed the in-action photos too much.

2001 Upper Deck Legends: “Rod Woodson” Past Patterns #PP-RW2

In closing, the "Upper Deck Legends" brand was just an awesome offering from Upper Deck with the only real downer being the size of a few of the base sets. Otherwise, this title is one of the best the hobby has had over the last 25 years. Whether you're talking about the memorabilia sets or autograph sets, this title gives you everything. I highly suggest you DON'T collect it. Why? Because everyone else is!!

I have complete sets:
 

Upper Deck Legends:

1) 1997 Upper Deck Legends Set

    A) Big Game Hunters Insert

    B) Legends Autographs Insert - Incomplete ( 62 / 168 ) *

    C) Marquee Match-ups Insert

2) 1998 Upper Deck Legends Set - Does Not Exist

2) 1999 Upper Deck Century Legends Set

    A) 20th Century Superstars Insert

    B) Epic Milestones Insert

    C) Epic Signatures Insert - Incomplete ( 21 / 30 )

    D) Jersey of the Century Insert

    E) Tour de Force Stars Insert

3) 2000 Upper Deck Century Legends Set

    A) Canton Calling Insert

    B) Defining Moments Insert

    C) Legends Autographs Insert - Incomplete ( 1 / 69 )**

    C) Reflections in Time Insert

    D) Millennium QBs Insert

    E) Rookie Gallery Insert

4) 2001 Upper Deck Legends Set - Do Not Have

    A) Memorable Materials Insert

    B) Past Patterns Insert

 

 

*Note: This set was listed as a 162-card set, However after I discovered the #AL-57X Jim Otto, AL-69X Randy White, AL-91X Cris Collinsworth, AL-119X Tom Jackson, and the AL-177X Jim Zorn Autograph Redemption card, the set is now 168-cards.

 

**Note: This set was listed as a 68-card set, However after I discovered the #MB-X Mel Blount Autograph Redemption card, the set is now 69-cards.