Dallas Cowboys

Dallas QB Dak Prescott’s surge carrying over to trading cards

Duane Bates holds Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) and running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) rookie cards at Duane's Sports Cards in Arlington.
Duane Bates holds Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) and running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) rookie cards at Duane's Sports Cards in Arlington. mfaulkner@star-telegram.com

The comparisons of Dak Prescott to Tom Brady are nothing new.

The same goes for comparisons of Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott to Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith.

Only this time, the link has nothing to do with what’s happening on the football field for the Dallas Cowboys. It has everything to do with how the Cowboys have taken the football-card industry by storm with the two rookies leading the way.

There’s nothing hotter in trading cards than Prescott and Elliott.

“I don’t really have anything to compare it too because they [the Cowboys] haven’t had anything like this,” said Duane Bates, who owns Duane’s Sports Cards, a trading-card store less than two miles from AT&T Stadium. “The last thing I can think of that was big, but now the time was different, was Aikman and Emmitt. And that was big. But people don’t do that now. Now they chase after all the autographs because that’s what everybody seems to want. And there’s just not that many of them to sell.”

Bates has several Prescott cards in his display that run about $10. While that’s a reasonable price for a rookie card, it’s not even close to the neighborhood that the Prescott rookies people want are going for.

For those cards, you have to add another zero. And in some cases, make that two zeroes. Most collectors now look for rookie cards that have autographs on them. And some of those cards are also limited as far as the print run. It’s impossible to find a Prescott autographed rookie for less than $100. Ones that are signed with him in a Mississippi State uniform are selling for more than $200 on eBay. Ones signed by Prescott that have pictures of him in a Dallas uniform start at a higher price.

And as the Cowboys continue to win, there’s really no end in sight.

“The better he plays, the better the cards do,” said Justin Grunert, the senior market analyst for Beckett Football, a trading-card publication. “If they clinch a playoff spot, it can go up even more.”

Why is the demand for Prescott so strong?

A lot has to do with the fact that as a fourth-round pick, not much was expected out of him trading-card wise. That was the case for Brady too when his cards debuted in 2000. Now they are some of the most coveted in the market.

It also helps that Prescott is the quarterback of America’s Team. Last year, the hobby featured the rookie cards of Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston. They were both big sellers, but they weren’t Cowboys big.

“You can’t take anything away from those two, but they play for Tennessee and Tampa Bay,” Grunert said. “It’s not like they play for a marquee team like Green Bay or Chicago. Or of course the Cowboys. That just adds to the value.”

The fact that there are so many different Prescott cards out there has a lot to do with trading card company Panini recognizing the kind of player he could be. The company, which is the official trading card company of the NFL, has cards of several players, including some who weren’t drafted. Despite Prescott being a fourth-round pick, he was one of 40 rookies invited to a rookie engagement the company had for top prospects.

Prescott impressed everyone at the event.

“He was there and we got a chance to really look at Dak and understand who he was and how he operated,” said Jason Howarth, the vice president of marketing for Panini. “You look for guys to root for that are really good. It’s been phenomenal to see his continued to climb. Rookies drive trading cards.”

Panini has an index it uses to rate the top 15 rookies and veterans that are collectible every quarter. In the last rankings, first-round picks Carson Wentz and Jared Goff topped the rookie rankings and Prescott didn’t make the list.

Howarth expects Prescott to be No. 1 or 2 in the next rookie rankings. And if he’s not No. 1, it will be because Elliott has the spot.

So what is the holy grail of cards for Prescott and how much does it go for?

It could be a card that features autographs of both Elliott and Prescott on it. It sold for more than $2,100. Several others have sold for more than $1,000.

Of course that’s on the high end. Other non-autographed rookies are much cheaper. That’s what happens when a company like Panini releases 30 different series of NFL cards to cater to different buyers.

Grunert thinks Prescott could end up settling in the Andrew Luck range. Luck’s rookie cards came out in 2012. His Panini Contenders Draft Pick rookie sells in the $1,000 range, about $700 more than Prescott’s similar card goes for.

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