What’s the big deal here? It’s just a regular 1990 Topps Football card, right? Nope. It’s some kind of sample shown in a 1990 issue of Topps magazine. You can immediately tell the difference by the inclusion of “Broncos” on front, at bottom left, instead of the Topps logo.
This may never have actually been produced and was maybe just a mock-up on a piece of paper, created by a Topps designer. The hand-drawn football is a big clue for this being the case.
In 1990, the NFL did not grant Topps a license to produce football cards or use team logos (look how far we’ve come…), but Topps decided to print them anyway. Two major changes occurred: 1. The omission of team names or logos from the card fronts and 2. a disclaimer notice on back of every card, stating: “Topps football player cards are not manufactured, sponsored or authorized by any team or league.” Eventually, Topps was granted a license and the late-issued cards they produced for 1990, had the disclaimer removed from the back.
Little-known-fact: all 1990 Topps Football packaging, even the box bottom cards themselves, can be found with or without the disclaimer.
Little-known-fact Part 2: Topps was deep into the development of a 1990 Bowman Football set at the same time. This was shelved for unknown reasons (likely related to their NFL issues), but how cool would it have been to have had a 1990 Bowman Emmitt Smith RC. ‘Home of the Rookie Card,’ right?