The 1982 Topps football set has a solid mix of rookie and veteran players. But in terms of 1980s football issues, it’s also one of the more underrated. While it doesn’t have the heavy hitters in terms of big name rookies found in the 1981 (Joe Montana), 1984 (Dan Marino, John Elway), and 1986 (Jerry Rice, Steve Young) Topps releases, it’s still worthy of finding a home in your collection.
1982 Topps football cards were sold in wax, cello and rack boxes with vending cases sold to dealers. Wax packs were 30 cents for 15 cards.
The set includes a total of 528 cards that measure the standard 2 1/2″ x 3 1/2″. The cards feature a color image of a player with a mostly attractive design. The Topps logo is printed at the top and the bottom includes the player’s team helmet and also his name inside of a pennant.
The design isn’t overly flashy, but is a step up from the 1980 and 1981 cards. Some of that wasn’t Topps’ fault, however. It was the first time in many years that Topps had secured a licensing deal with NFL Properties. Topps hadn’t been able to feature the team logos on cards for some time and that led to a restraint of sorts on how creative they could get with the cards. In 1982, with the licensing deal, they were able to again use logos to make them more attractive.
The set featured many subsets and, in addition, the base cards for All-Pro players from the 1981 season were labeled as such at the top of their cards. The backs included a pretty ugly mustard-type color on the background with blue ink overprinted on it with all sorts of information, including the player’s name, a biography, and statistics.
One of the subsets in the set is the popular ‘In Action’ series. These cards offered a second picture of a player that was included in the set and showed him on the field in an actual game. That was important as many of the cards in the set simply featured a closeup picture of a player on the sidelines.
Keys to the 1982 Topps Football Set
One reason the issue is overlooked is because of its lack of a high-dollar card. However, plenty of great cards exist here.
The set has the usual mix of stars and rookies you find in practically every Topps vintage issue. Leading the way for veterans is clearly the card of Joe Montana. Montana’s card is his second-year edition and one of the more valuable ones in the set.
In terms of rookies, there’s plenty here as well. Two big Hall of Famers on defense highlight the set with cards for Lawrence Taylor and Ronnie Lott. Taylor and Lott are two of the premier players of the 1980s at any position. Their rookies, along with Montana’s second year issue are the most important.
Another bonus is that Taylor, Lott, and Montana also had In Action subset cards. Those three are desirable but well behind their base cards in terms of interest and pricing.
Many other recognizable rookies exist, too. The next big one is another Hall of Famer in offensive lineman Anthony Munoz. Others include Pro Bowl players, such as Cris Collinsworth, Hugh Green, Freeman McNeil, and James Brooks.
1982 Topps Football Prices
As a whole, the set is a relative bargain. It includes not only the rookie cards of three Hall of Fame players, but also the second year card of one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time.
The base cards of Taylor and Montana are the most expensive and can usually be bought in ungraded near-mint condition starting around $10 with Lott in the $10-$15 range. In Action cards for all three can often be had for $5 or less. Complete ungraded sets vary depending upon condition of the key cards but are often under $100.
Unopened boxes are available, too, with prices for standard wax boxes generally starting at a few hundred dollars.