Forty years ago, you could have walked into a drug store, grocery store or five-and-dime, plunked your 15 cents on the counter and walked away with a pack of football cards that probably included at least one player who’d wind up in the Hall of Fame. Nearly one out of every ten cards in the set pictures a player who wound up in Canton.
Yes, it’s the “Walter Payton set” but there are some nice bargains among the rest of the group in the 1976 Topps football set. Here are six cards–in no particular order– that you can own for very little of that precious disposable income.
How many second year vintage cards of Hall of Famers in any sport can you buy in graded, mint condition for the paltry sums that Fouts–the aerial wizard of the high-scoring Chargers–cards sell for? In October, two PSA 9s sold for less than $14.
Other than his first two cards, Griese is undervalued across the board. The Dolphins’ days of dominance had about come to a close by this time but the quarterback of the NFL’s only perfect team deserves a little more respect. You can buy very nice ungraded copies for the change in your car.
Blanda played in his first pro game in 1949 and was still on the Raiders roster in 1976. Let that sink in for a minute. He was 48 at the time. Relegated to kicking duty by that time, Blanda was the AFL MVP in 1961 and once tossed 7 TD passes in a game. Mint, graded examples of the last card from his incredible career are dirt cheap. He’s got a record breaker card (#1 in the set), too.
Mean Joe’s first card was back in 1971 but he and his Steel Curtain mates were at the peak of their powers 40 years ago. One of the most dominant defensive players ever, Greene cards from the ’76 set are popular, especially with Steelers collectors but can be found for around $5 in nice shape.
Taylor was a member of the NFL’s all-decade team in the 1960s and was the league’s all-time leader in receptions when he retired. He made eight Pro Bowl squads. Despite that impressive log, his 1976 Topps card is rarely graded because even 8s don’t even bring the grading fee.
He’d actually retired just before the season, but Topps was already in their production process.
Dawson and the Chiefs were synonymous with winning in the AFL and then won Super Bowl IV. From 1962 to 1969, he threw 182 touchdown passes, more than any other pro quarterback during that time. His last Topps card often sells for barely more than a common. A PSA 8 sold for $2.25 in November. Two dollars and twenty-five cents. Somewhere, Hank Stram is fuming.