The 1977 Topps football set is known for one major rookie card — Steve Largent — but it is a very affordable product that still contains some well-known NFL stars, including the second Topps card of Walter Payton. This was the third of four consecutive 528-card sets Topps put out during the mid- to late 1970s.
1977 Topps Football Basics
1977 Topps football cards were available in 15-cent wax packs, 25-cent cello packs and 59-cent rack packs.
The design for the 1977 set is simple, with most photographs on the card fronts depicting players in posed head-and-shoulder shots. This made it easier to avoid team logos, which Topps still was unable to use in its cards. There were a few action shots, and in those cases the logos also were airbrushed.
The player’s name appears above the photograph, with an unfurling banner-like design that depicts the team name. The player’s position is included inside a small, football-like icon. Each team has its own color scheme.
The card backs sport a vertical design, with the card number located inside a red football icon. Vital statistics are included, and where applicable, a year-by-year statistical recap dominated the back. The bottom of the card has a box (College Corner) that names his college and highlights the player’s career before turning pro.
Players selected to the All-Pro team received a black stripe on their card. Players who rushed for more than 1,000 in 1976 had a black football on the card.
Largent is the key rookie, but there are plenty of NFL newcomers of note: Lee Roy Selmon, Danny White, Archie Griffin, Harry Carson, Mike Webster, Dave Casper, Mike Haynes, Jim Zorn and Ray Rhodes. Coveted veteran cards include Payton’s All-Pro card (No. 360), Lynn Swann (No. 195), Roger Staubach (No. 45), Ken Stabler (All-Pro, No. 110), Terry Bradshaw (No. 245), Randy White (No. 342) and Jack Lambert (All-Pro, No. 480).
Farewell, Team Checklists (Sort of)
This was the last year that Topps issued team checklists (cards 201 to 228); in the future, checklists would be fronted by team leaders. The first six cards of the set feature 1976’s statistical leaders in both conferences. Cards 451 to 455 showcased records set during 1976, and the final three cards include summaries of the conference championship games and Super Bowl XI.
Topps Mexican Set
In a quirky sidelight, the 1977 set also was printed for distribution in Mexico. The biggest difference was that the type on the card was printed in Spanish. The Cowboys became “Vaqueros.” The cards are scarcer than their American counterparts, and the wrappers also were coveted since they featured different NFL stars.
More than 35,600 individual cards from the 1977 Topps football set have been sent to PSA for grading. Of that total, 2,845 have earned a PSA 10 rating, including 23 Largent cards. Payton, with 1,211 submissions, has just eight that came in at PSA 10. At SGC, a total of 1,979 cards have been submitted. Four of the 346 submissions for Largent came back at 98. As for Payton, 200 cards were submitted and only four graded as high as 96.
There are more than 200 listings on eBay for the Largent rookie, and most are trending under $50. Complete sets have been selling on eBay as cheaply as $150 in some auctions, while several near-sets (missing the Largent card), are comfortably under $100.
For vintage collectors on a budget, the 1977 Topps set is a great product to complete.