Breaking Down The Most Popular 1990 Pro Set Football Errors And Variations
Some trading card sets have their fair share of errors, with a few occasional hiccups here and there. However, some sets take the concept of errors to a whole new level, attracting collectors with an abundance of errors and variations.
The sheer number of errors lends these sets their unique appeal. One set that stands out in this regard is the 1990 Pro Set NFL release.
The set is riddled with tons of errors and variations, making it a treasure trove for those interested in error cards. The 1990 Pro Set NFL has everything, from misprinted player names, ghost bios, erroneous team information, and incorrect photographs. There are also dozens of rare variations that add an extra layer of desirability to the set.
This article will discuss everything about the 1990 Pro Set NFL error cards. We’ll explore the errors, several notable variations, and their value and collectibility in today’s market.
1990 Pro Set
The 1989 Pro Set NFL set marked Pro Set’s debut in the football card market. Before that, Topps was the only producer of licensed football cards. While Fleer produced football cards, they weren’t player cards. The cards featured just action shots of game plays that skirted player licensing issues.
That changed in 1989 when Score and Pro Set introduced their football sets. It marked the beginning of the modern era for football cards. The 1989 Pro Set featured what every collector wanted, a comprehensive collection of player cards, team logos, and action shots.
Pro Set’s followed their 1989 success with their 1990 Pro Set Football set. It was a considerably large set with 801 cards issued in three series. The first series contains 377 cards, the second series 392 and a 32-card Final Update. The set was issued in 14-card packs.
The fronts have striking color action photos and team-colored borders on the top and bottom edges. Cards 1-29 are special selections from Pro Set commemorating events or leaders from the previous year. Pro Set also produced and randomly inserted 10,000 Lombardi Trophy hologram cards.
These attractive cards were hand serial numbered out of 10,000 (printed as 10M) and featured the words “Collector Edition” on the back. The reverse of the card showcased information, including statistics, biographical data, and career highlights. Collectors widely accepted it.
Inserts and Subsets
The 1990 Pro Set Football contained an impressive number of inserts.
- Pro Set – Commemorative Collectibles
#2 issued in Series One packs. #3 issued in Series Two packs.
- Pro Set – Draft Day
The other three cards from a 4-card pack were distributed on the day of the 1990 NFL Draft. The Jeff George Indianapolis Colts card (“#669a”) was issued in Series One packs and is listed in the main set’s checklist.
- Pro Set – Draft Day Bronze
A bronze-bordered version of the Draft Day 4-card pack. Cards do not include a “No. 1 Pick” banner on the front.
- Pro Set – Playbooks
Inserted one per pack.
- Pro Set – Pro Set Special: Payne Stewart
Issued in Series One packs
- Pro Set – Santa Claus Collectible
Issued in Series Two packs
- Pro Set – Special Collectible: SuperPro
Issued in Series Two packs
- Pro Set – Super Bowl Collectibles
Inserted one per Series One pack
- Pro Set – Super Bowl MVP Collectibles
Inserted one per Series Two pack
- Pro Set – Super Bowl XXIV NFL Collectible
Issued in Series One packs
- Pro Set – Vince Lombardi Trophy Collector Edition Hologram
Issued in Series One packs and serial numbered to 10,000
1990 Pro Set Cards errors
Pro Set aimed to release a standout set with their 1990 NFL release. They made rookie cards of actual rookies and offered more color and action shots than Topps. Indeed, the Pro Set 1990 release had an impressive impact on the collecting world.
However, the set’s legacy is often associated with numerous errors and variations. The multiple printing mistakes, misalignments, and misprints have inadvertently become the defining characteristic of the set.
From misprinted player names and incorrect team logos to reversed colors and missing information, the 1990 Pro Set NFL is rift with errors.
Notable 1990 Pro Set error cards
The Joe Montana’s 1990 Pro Set card is the first on our list of notable 1990 Pro Set errors. The error is a wrong figure on the 8th line on the back of the card. The error card says “…Bills quarterback Jim Kelly (3,521 yards, 25 TDs)” instead of “…. Bills quarterback Kelly (3,130 yards, 25TDs). Pro Set spotted and corrected the error early in the print run.
Montana is considered one of the greatest quarterbacks to play the game. Hence, this error card has substantial demand, ensuring it holds its value well. Prices range from $3 to over $150, depending on the card’s condition.
There have been two big money sales for this card over the last few weeks, with sales of $1,350 on June 24, 2023, and $1,000 on April 12, 2023. The average sale price of the 1990 Pro Set Joe Montana card is $53.98.
1990 Pro Set #204 Fred Marion
The Fred Marion card stands out as one of this set’s most valuable error cards. This card features New England Patriots free safety Fred Marion. Marion wasn’t extraordinary when he played for the New England Patriots.
Hence, this card expectedly didn’t have much going for it prior to its release. The error that has made this card so valuable has nothing to do with Marion. It’s, instead, thanks to the combination of an unfortunate angle and perfect photo timing.
The card looks like any action-shot football card of the time, with Marion supposedly receiving a pass. John Taylor can be seen behind Marion falling to the ground. However, a closer inspection revealed something sticking out of his trousers.
Taylor’s belt had become loose sometime during the game and dangled in front of his pants as he fell to the ground. The picture was perfectly taken at an angle that makes the belt looks way more than a belt.
The belt’s dark hue and lighter-colored buckle-end also don’t help matters. The result is a picture that looks like John Taylor has a large appendage hanging from his trousers. As expected, Pro Set quickly corrected the error by airbrushing out the hanging belt.
The value of the error cards ranges from $86 to $1,137, depending on the card’s grade. The value of the corrected card is much lower, selling for $0.90 to $14 for a PSA 9.
1990 Pro Set Hall of Fame Selection #25 Franco Harris
Before his retirement in 1984, Harris was chosen for nine consecutive Pro Bowls (1972–1980) and was All-Pro in 1977. He was named MVP of Super Bowl IX in 1975, making history as the first Black NFL player ever to hold the title.
He played 12 seasons with the Steelers and one with the Seattle Seahawks. So, he was very well known both by collectors and football lovers. The error on this card is a wrong birthdate on the reverse of the card.
The error cards show his date of birth as 2/7/1950 rather than 3/7/1950. The error was corrected immediately after it was spotted.
As expected from an error card from the junk wax era, this card doesn’t hold much monetary value. According to sales data from PSA, a PSA 9 of the corrected version sells for $3.25, while a PSA 10 of the error card would fetch $26.
1990 Pro Set #772 Dexter Manley
Dexter Manley was a force to be reckoned with on the football field. He was renowned for his dominant presence and was a key player for the Washington Redskins. His impact on the pitch earned him two Super Bowl rings and one Pro Bowl nomination.
However, Manley faced struggles with substance abuse. He failed his third drug test in 1989 and was suspended by the NFL. The very first 1990 Pro Set Dexter Manley cards mention the issue with Manley’s substance abuse violation.
It reads, “…. reinstated by commissioner Paul Tagliabue 11 weeks into the 1990 season after suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy….”
However, Pro Set later replaced it with a version that doesn’t mention Manley’s substance abuse.
Some experts believe Pro Set had to “clean” up the card and eliminate the substance abuse part to make it “kid-friendly”. Some, however, say it’s due to objections voiced by Dexter Manley.
Whatever the reason, the substance abuse variation is quite rare. The value of the cards with no mention of substance abuse ranges from $1 – $10. Sales for cards with substance abuse on the back are rare and far between.
However, as expected, a PSA 9 of the substance abuse on the back variation should cost ten to twenty more times than the more available variation. Some estimates put the substance abuse card in 2020 at a value of $400.
1990 Pro Set #1 Barry Sanders
We round up our list of notable 1990 Pro Set errors and variation cards with one of the most popular variation cards in the set. Barry Sanders is arguably the best running back to play the game.
His performance in his rookie campaign ensured he won the 1989 Offensive Rookie of the Year award. To commemorate the honor, Pro Set created this promo card given to dealers and industry insiders at a trade show in Hawaii. The difference between both variants of this card is their reverse side.
The Barry Sanders 1a card was released in packs and shows Barry holding a trophy on its reverse side. It sells between 60 cents and $2. However, the promo card shows a headshot of Barry, the Lions helmet logo on its reverse side. Its value ranges between $46 to $300, depending on its grade.
All 1990 Pro Set error cards
The list below showcases all 1990 Pro Set error cards. I ignored all variations while curating this list and only included two variations with very significant values.
|1990 Pro Set #2a Joe Montana||8th line, “…Jim Kelly (3,521 yards…”.|
|1990 Pro Set #2b Joe Montana||Corrected: 8th line, “…Jim Kelly (3,130 yards…”|
|1990 Pro Set #15a Walter Stanley||Listed as #8 on the back, it should be #87.|
|1990 Pro Set #15b Walter Stanley||Updated: Listed as #86 on back, should be #87|
|1990 Pro Set #18a Chris Doleman||The last names misspelt “Townsent” and “Jeffcoact” on back|
|1990 Pro Set #18b Chris Doleman||Corrected: Last names spelt “Townsend” and “Jeffcoat” on back|
|1990 Pro Set #25a Franco Harris||Wrong date of birth. Listed as 2/7/1950, rather than 3/7/1950|
|1990 Pro Set #25b Franco Harris||Corrected: Born 3/7/1950|
|1990 Pro Set #27a Jack Lambert||Wrong date of birth. Listed as 7/2/52, rather than 7/8/52|
|1990 Pro Set #27b Jack Lambert||Corrected: Born 7/8/52|
|1990 Pro Set #39a Cornelius Bennett||“TCKL SACKS REC NO YDS TD” printed in black, inconsistent with the set design|
|1990 Pro Set #39b Cornelius Bennett||Corrected: “TCKL SACKS REC NO YDS TD” printed in red to match the set design|
|1990 Pro Set #63a Rickey Dixon||Bio information missing from the reverse of the card|
|1990 Pro Set #63b Rickey Dixon||Corrected: Bio information included on the reverse side|
|1990 Pro Set #68a Sam Wyche||Bio information missing from the reverse of the card|
|1990 Pro Set #68b Sam Wyche||Corrected: Bio information included on the reverse side|
|1990 Pro Set #75a Ozzie Newsome||Wrong place of birth. Born “Little Rock, AR”, rather than “Muscle Shoals, AL”|
|1990 Pro Set #75b Ozzie Newsome||Corrected: Born in “Muscle Shoals, AL”|
|1990 Pro Set #110a Johnny Holland||Name, position and player number are missing on the upper part of the reverse side|
|1990 Pro Set #110b Johnny Holland||Corrected: Name, position and player number included on the upper part of the reverse side|
|1990 Pro Set #111a Perry Kemp||Wrong photo. The photo on the reverse side is Ken Stills (white shirt)|
|1990 Pro Set #111b Perry Kemp||Corrected: The photo on the back is Perry Kemp (green jersey)|
|1990 Pro Set #114a Sterling Sharpe||Wrong place of birth. Born “Glennville, GA” rather than “Chicago, IL.”|
|1990 Pro Set #114b Sterling Sharpe||Corrected: Born in “Chicago, IL”|
|1990 Pro Set #152a Mervyn Fernandez||Bio says, “Free Agent, ’87”|
|1990 Pro Set #152b Mervyn Fernandez||Corrected: Bio says, “Drafted 10th Round, ’83”|
|1990 Pro Set #161a Art Shell||Wrong date of birth. Listed as 11/25, rather than 11/26|
|1990 Pro Set #161b Art Shell||Corrected: Born 11/26; VAR: Large “Hall of Fame” print on stripe|
|1990 Pro Set #161c Art Shell||Variant: Born 11/26; VAR: Small “Hall of Fame” print on stripe|
|1990 Pro Set #210a Morten Andersen||Name, position, player number and card number printed in white on the back|
|1990 Pro Set #210b Morten Andersen||Name, position, player number and card number printed in black on the back|
|1990 Pro Set #289a Charles Haley||1986 fumble recoveries 1, should be 2; Total fumble recoveries 4, should be 5|
|1990 Pro Set #289b Charles Haley||1986 fumble recoveries 2, Total fumble recoveries 5|
|1990 Pro Set #319a Ray Perkins||The name and “Head Coach” are missing on the upper back|
|1990 Pro Set #319b Ray Perkins||Corrected: Name and “Head Coach” included on the upper back|
|1990 Pro Set #449a Dan Hampton||Listed as “DE” on back|
|1990 Pro Set #449b Dan Hampton||Listed as “DT” on back|
|1990 Pro Set #607a Wes Hopkins||“FUM INTERCEPTIONS” printed in black, inconsistent with the set design|
|1990 Pro Set #607b Wes Hopkins||“FUM INTERCEPTIONS” printed in red|
|1990 Pro Set #626a Rod Woodson||“FUM INTERCEPTIONS” printed in black, inconsistent with the set design|
|1990 Pro Set #626b Rod Woodson||“FUM INTERCEPTIONS” printed in red|
|1990 Pro Set #627a Rod Bernstine||Listed as “TE” on the back, it should be “RB”:|
|1990 Pro Set #627b Rod Bernstine||Listed as “RB” on back|
|1990 Pro Set #630a Anthony Miller||Listed as “WR” on the back, it should be “WR-KR.”|
|1990 Pro Set #630b Anthony Miller||Listed as “WR-KR” on back|
|1990 Pro Set #632a Leslie O’Neal||Listed as “LB-DE” on the front, it should be “LB.”|
|1990 Pro Set #632b Leslie O’Neal||Listed as “LB” on front|
|1990 Pro Set #633a David Richards||Listed as “G-T” on the back, it should be “G.”|
|1990 Pro Set #633b David Richards||Listed as “G” on back|
|1990 Pro Set #657a Curt Jarvis||Missing “The Official NFL Card” on front|
|1990 Pro Set #657b Curt Jarvis||Includes “The Official NFL Card” on front|
|1990 Pro Set #698a Terry Wooden||Listed as #51 on the back, it should be #90|
|1990 Pro Set #698b Terry Wooden||Listed as #90 on back|
|1990 Pro Set #701 Fred Washington||The card does not mention his death (Series Two)|
|1990 Pro Set # NNO Fred Washington||In Memorium Final Update. Card number #701 missing on back; 4th line, “patches” repeated|
|1990 Pro Set #718a Pat Terrell||Listed as #41 on the back, it should be #37|
|1990 Pro Set #718b Pat Terrell||Listed as #37 on back|
|1990 Pro Set #723a Oliver Barnett||Listed as #73 on the back, it should be #72. Also listed as “DT” on the front, it should be “NT.”|
|1990 Pro Set #723b Oliver Barnett||Listed as #73 on the back, should be #72; COR: Listed as “NT” on front|
|1990 Pro Set #739a Tom Hodson||Bio information missing from back|
|1990 Pro Set #739b Tom Hodson||Bio information included. Born “Matthews” should be “Mathews.”|
|1990 Pro Set #743a Johnny Bailey||Listed as #46 on the back, it should be #22|
|1990 Pro Set #743b Johnny Bailey||Listed as #22 on back|
|1990 Pro Set #744a Eric Moore||“Pro Set Prospect” and Giants helmet missing on the front|
|1990 Pro Set #744b Eric Moore||“Pro Set Prospect” and Giants helmet included on the front|
|1990 Pro Set #772a Dexter Manley||Substance abuse mentioned on the back|
|1990 Pro Set #772b Dexter Manley||No mention of substance abuse on the back. Bio information missing from back|
|1990 Pro Set #772c Dexter Manley||No mention of substance abuse on the back. Bio information included|
|1990 Pro Set #785a Commissioner at Berlin Wall||1st line, “…peered through historic Berlin Wall…”|
|1990 Pro Set #785b Commissioner at Berlin Wall||1st line, “…poses at historic Berlin Wall…”|
|1990 Pro Set # NNOa Michael Dean Perry||With the Pro Set logo|
|1990 Pro Set # NNOb Michael Dean Perry||Without the Pro Set logo, Pro Bowl Special|
|1990 Pro Set #59a Mike Ditka||Large Font for “Hall Of Fame” on front.|
|1990 Pro Set #59b Mike Ditka||Small Font for “Hall Of Fame” on the front.|
Why does the 1990 Pro Set have so many variations?
We discussed why most junk wax-era sets are full of error cards here. However, while poor quality control, a huge print run and rushed production schedules account for some of the errors in the 1990 Pro Set, a Pro Set decision is responsible for the dozens of variations in this set.
When Pro Set debuted the season before, they promised to deliver “a living set”—a set where each error is corrected rather than moving past it to the next release. In a bid to keep its word, Pro Set constantly updated, revised, removed, and replaced various cards.
There were reprints to remove errant black lines or change the size of letters. This resulted in one of the most notoriously variation-laden sets in hobby history. There are dozens of variations in the 1990 Pro Set, with most cards having over five different variations.
Value review of 1990 Pro Set Error cards
The fact that the 1990 Pro Set is a junk wax-era set has placed a ceiling on how much these cards are worth.
Despite this fact – or maybe because of it – the average value of error cards from the 1990 Pro Set is higher than you may expect. While some error cards aren’t worth more than a few cents, several error cards from this set are worth hundreds of dollars. This value likely stems from various variations and how loaded the checklist was, to begin with.
The 1990 Pro Set features a wealth of notable players, including dozens of rookie cards, most notably Cortez Kennedy, Junior Seau and Emmitt Smith. Sports Cards Pro, which tracks the sales of cards from each set, puts the average price of 1990 Pro Set cards at $15.
Final thoughts on 1990 Pro Set errors
Pro Sets burst onto the football trading card scene and played a vital part in football collection as we have it today. During its original run, the company left an indelible mark on the football trading card collecting landscape.
Despite the steady stream of errors it is now known for, this set ranks at the top of most junk-era sets when it comes to the highest average value. The loaded checklist, rare variations and rich history have ensured collectors will find value in several error cards from this set.
Besides the monetary value, error cards from the set are one of the most sought-after sets from the era for a reason. The release gives collectors a piece of football trading card history and a reminder of one of the more iconic football releases from the junk wax era.
While some collectors may rather opt for the 1990 Fleer or other football trading cards of the era, this Pro Set release offers a wide variety of variations and most times, higher-valued cards.