Let’s face it. While the 1980s produced some significant football releases, the one to start that decade isn’t heralded as a great one by most fans. The 1980 Topps football set is lacking quite a bit, particularly when it comes to key rookie cards. But other than being the first set of an important decade for football releases, there are some reasons to pursue this set.
1980 Topps Football Basics
If you were looking for football cards in the fall of 1980, you had plenty of choices. There were regular wax packs (25 cents); cello packs, Super Packs (with a package of Bazooka gum instead of the traditional Topps stick), rack packs, grocery rack packs and vending boxes.
This 528-card set your basic early 1980s Topps issue. Card fronts featured full color images while the backs included statistical information, a short mention of the player, and Topps’ typical cartoon factoid off to the side. The main design feature on the front was the player’s name in a pill-shaped box over top of a cartoon football. The cards measured a standard 2 1/2″wide x 3 1/2″ tall.
As many of the earlier Topps sets did, they did not feature team logos due to a licensing issue. Topps was able to again use the logos in their 1982 Topps football set but this issue, as other Topps sets without them, was sort of underwhelming when it came to the design.
Without question, the top card in the set belongs to Phil Simms. The 1980 Topps football set boasts his rookie issue and it’s the key card in the release. But Simms isn’t completely alone here. While there aren’t high-dollar first-year cards in this set, there are other notable rookies to be sure.
Among them is #170 Ottis Anderson, originally a member of the St. Louis Cardinals, who later became a teammate of Simms. The pair became stars and teamed up to lead the Giants to a pair of Super Bowls. Like Simms, Anderson was a Pro Bowl player and the running back rushed for more than 10,000 yards in his career. That included a monster rookie campaign when he ran for 1,605 yards to win the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year award. His card remains one of the great bargains for 1980s rookies and generally doesn’t cost more than a few dollars. Anderson is in the Record Breakers subset as well as a result of breaking the league’s all-time record for rushing yards by a rookie in a season.
Also in the set is the rookie card of Lester Hayes (#195), one of the top cornerbacks in the 1980s. The six-time All-Pro won two Super Bowls and was the 1980 Defensive Player of the Year. Hayes’ card is interesting because of the timing. Even though it’s technically his rookie edition, he had been in the league since 1977 and simply had not appeared in previous Topps issues. Finally, former NFL star Clay Matthews Sr. is here, too. Matthews was a three-time All-Pro at linebacker and another big name defensive player in the decade.
In terms of stars, all the usual suspects were included. Walter Payton leads a lineup full of big names. In addition to him, other Hall of Famers include Tony Dorsett, Terry Bradshaw, Steve Largent, Jack Lambert and others. In addition to their base cards, collectors can also find second cards of many stars in the Team Leaders subset, which included cards for four statistical leaders on the front and team checklists on the back.
Base cards of the league’s All-Pro players included an All-Pro header at the top.
1980 Topps Football Prices
1980 Topps Football cards are very inexpensive. Simms’ card, the most expensive in set, can be found in ungraded NM condition for $10 or $15. Payton’s card is in the $5-$10 range and other rookies and stars are generally no more than $5. Complete sets can be purchased on eBay starting around $40-$50.
You can check out 1980 Topps football singles, sets, lots, packs and boxes on eBay by clicking here.