A check of the cereal aisle in September confirmed it. There was a 1971 Kellogg’s football card set. It said so right on the back of the box. Sixty “3-D” style cards there for the collecting. If you were a kid and thought a couple of box tops and two bucks would put a complete set in the mailbox by mid-season, you were sadly mistaken.
After launching the trading card promotion with baseball and football sets in 1970, both of which could be obtained through the mail-in offer, the ’71 baseball set had no such option. To “collect ’em all”, you had to get them one-by-one. Any hopes of that being an anomoly were dashed when the football cards arrived.
Today, both sets are still the most challenging of all modern era Kellogg’s sets to collect. What’s worse is that they were among the sets most prone to curling and cracking. In short, if you put this one together before the days of eBay, you were a real go-getter.
If you have one–or part of one–you know, however, that the 1971 Kellogg’s football set is probably among the best sets the company ever created.
1971 Kellogg’s Football Set Basics
The set consists of 60 cards which were only available in Corn Flakes or Raisin Bran cereals. Once again, they were encased in a somewhat transparent white envelope.
Measuring 2 1/4″ by 3 1/2″, the cards featured posed action shots and portraits, generally with stadium backdrops. They featured an attractive blue border with the player’s name inside a red helmet in the upper left and each player’s facsimile autograph.
The backs offered more in-depth information than Topps put on its cards, a small photo of the player and statistics. The NFLPA logo was prominently featured.
The set includes several Hall of Famers including Johnny Unitas, Dick Butkus, George Blanda and Bob Griese. Joe Greene, whose rookie card appears in the 1971 Topps set, also appears in the Kellogg’s set.
Curiously, the set opens with Tom Barrington of the Saints, who never appeared on a Topps card and, as it turned out, had played his last season in the NFL in 1970.
In fact, it’s pretty clear the checklist for the set was put together well before the pre-season opened as several players are depicted with the teams they left after the previous season.
Notable players who are missing from the set include Joe Namath and O.J. Simpson, likely due to having their own marketing deals.
Curls, Cracks and Collecting
The 1971 cards are prone to curling but it’s not a good idea to lay heavy objects on them in an attempt to flatten them as they may crack. Putting them inside plastic pages and storing them in an album upright on a shelf may help a little.
Those collecting high-grade cards may find a few of the tougher cards to find are commons. Doug Cunningham, Curley Culp and Jerry LeVias are three that have proven difficult. Relatively new finds of packs that are eventually opened have helped push population numbers of 1971 Kellogg’s a little higher but there is stiff competition for cards in 9 and 10 grades.
The 1971 Kellogg’s football set would prove to be the last time the company produced both baseball and football sets until 1982 when a Raisin Bran promotion included the Kellogg’s name but those cards and the their distribution was vastly different.
It’s difficult to put an accurate value on a 1971 Kellogg’s set because they are rarely sold as such and condition is vitally important. It’s safe to say that crack-free sets start at around $300 but graded collections will go higher. Unitas is the most expensive card in the set at around $125 in an ‘8’ holder, with Butkus, Greene and Griese worth about $40-$60 in the same grade and $75-$90 in a 9. Many Kellogg’s cards aren’t graded, however, and spotting good looking examples for very reasonable prices is still possible.
You can see 1971 Kellogg’s football cards for sale and auction by clicking here.