1971 Topps Football Cards

1971 Topps Football Cards


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The 1971 Topps Football card set was the first to reflect the merger of the AFL and NFL with the newly aligned AFC/NFC conferences. The set consists of 263 total cards, each measuring the standard 2-1/2 by 3-1/2 inches. The set is laden with rookie cards of Hall of Fame players, most notably, Terry Bradshaw (#156) and "Mean" Joe Greene (#245). Joining these two legendary names are rookies, Charlie Sanders (#210), Roger Wehrli (#188), Willie Lanier (#114) and Ken Houston (#113). Notable veterans on the checklist include  Johnny Unitas (#1), Dick Butkus (#25), Gale Sayers (#150), Bart Starr (#200), Joe Namath (#250), and O.J. Simpson (#260).


Most of the player images utilized on the front of the cards follow the standard helmet-less pose, which Topps used for the set since 1956. However, a few of the cards actually used game-action photography that was then airbrushed to remove logos and team names. Topps did not pay the requisite league licensing fee for use of such elements. The player's name runs along the top of the card. The lower left corner features a cartoon that pictures the player's position, with the position name below that, and the team beside it. In the lower right corner, the player's conference is named. The backs are vertically-oriented. A small box contains a card number, and a larger box has the player's position, team, name, and vital stats. To the right of that is a cartoon about the player. The rest of the card features a brief biography, along with a list of yearly statistics for most players. The 1971 Topps Football card set would be the very first time year-by-year statistics were used on the the backs of their football cards. There are three versions of the front design. AFC players have a solid red border, while NFC players use a solid blue border. Finally, the All-Pro players, noted as All-Stars on the cards themselves, are given a border that has both red and blue. 1970 would also mark the first year Topps identified All-Pro players in its set.

Printing and Distribution

The 1970 Topps Football card set was issued in two separate series. The second series checklist (card #106) was printed with each series. Printed on two printing sheets, cards from the first series are #'s 1-131 and the second series includes card #'s 132-263. The cards were distributed in wax packs, cellos and vending boxes. The traditional wax packs, costing 10c, came with eight cards, one game card, one poster and one stick of gum.

Inserts and Condition Issues

The aforementioned game cards, that were inserted at a rate of one per wax pack, were designed to play an actual football game on a table-top. Their are 53 total cards in the set. Of those, 52 are player cards and one card is used to mark field position and down. The game cards are just a bit smaller in size than traditional cards, measuring 2-1/4 by 3-1/4 inches and have rounded corners. The game board came in the form of the poster back, also inserted at a rate of one per wax pack. The flip side of the posters contain a four-color player image in the foreground against a two-color drawing of football game action scene. When unfolded, the posters measure 4-7/8 by 6-7/8 inches. There are 22 posters in the set.

The brightly colored, solid borders show wear easily and are difficult to find in top condition. Vintage dealers and veteran hobbyists claim that the 1971 Topps Football card set is the most difficult to assemble in high grade of all the Topps sets from the 1970's and 1980's. In addtion to corner wear, chipping and flaking, the cards often have roughly cut edges and poor centering. As a result, high grade cards command top dollar on the secondary market.

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Key Cards

Key 1971 Topps Football Cards

Terry Bradshaw RC #156

1971 Topps Terry Bradshaw

Joe Namath #250

1971 Topps Joe Namath

Joe Greene RC #245

1971 Topps Joe Green

Johnny Unitas #1

1971 Topps Johnny Unitas

O.J. Simpson #260

1971 Topps OJ Simpson

Top eBay Listings

1971 Topps # 9 Billy Van Heusen Broncos PSA 7

1971 Topps # 222 Don Herrmann Giants PSA 7

1971 Topps # 124 Dave Herman Jets PSA 6.5

1971 Topps # 3 ROOKIE Marty Schottenheimer Patriots PSA 6

1971 Topps # 42 Dick Redman Chargers SGC 86 = 7.5

1971 Topps # 67 Dick Anderson Dolphins SGC 86 = 7.5

1971 Topps # 75 Gary Collins Browns SGC 86 = 7.5

1971 Topps # 86 Edgar Chandler Bills SGC 86 = 7.5

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Set Checklist

1971 Topps Football Card Checklist

Card #Player Name
1Johnny Unitas
2Jim Butler
3Marty Schottenheimer RC
4Joe O'Donnell
5Tom Dempsey
6Chuck Allen
7Ernie Kellerman
8Walt Garrison RC
9Bill Van Heusen
10Lance Alworth
11Greg Landry RC
12Larry Krause
13Buck Buchanan
14Roy Gerela RC
15Clifton McNeil
16Bob Brown OT
17Lloyd Mumphord
18Gary Cuozzo
19Don Maynard
20Larry Wilson
21Charlie Smith RB
22Ken Avery
23Billy Walik
24Jim Johnson
25Dick Butkus
26Charley Taylor Error
27Checklist Error
28Lionel Aldridge RC
29Billy Lothridge
30Terry Hanratty RC
31Lee Roy Jordan
32Rick Volk RC
33Howard Kindig
34Carl Garrett RC
35Bobby Bell
36Gene Hickerson
37Dave Parks
38Paul Martha
39George Blanda
40Tom Woodeshick
41Alex Karras
42Rick Redman
43Zeke Moore
44Jack Snow
45Larry Csonka
46Karl Kassulke
47Jim Hart
48Al Atkinson
49Horst Muhlmann RC
50Sonny Jurgensen
51Ron Johnson RC
52Cas Banaszek
53Bubba Smith
54Bobby Douglass RC
55Willie Wood
56Bake Turner
57Mike Morgan
58George Butch Byrd
59Don Horn
60Tommy Nobis
61Jan Stenerud
62Altie Taylor RC
63Gary Pettigrew
64Spike Jones RC
65Duane Thomas RC
66Marty Domres RC
67Dick Anderson
68Ken Iman
69Miller Farr
70Daryle Lamonica
71Alan Page
72Pat Matson
73Emerson Boozer
74Pat Fischer
75Gary Collins
76John Fuqua RC
77Bruce Gossett
78Ed O'Bradovich
79Bob Tucker RC
80Mike Curtis
81Rich Jackson
82Tom Janik
83Gale Gillingham
84Jim Mitchell TE
85Charlie Johnson
86Edgar Chandler
87Cyril Pinder
88Johnny Robinson
89Ralph Neely
90Dan Abramowicz
91Mercury Morris RC
92Steve DeLong
93Larry Stallings
94Tom Mack
95Hewritt Dixon
96Fred Cox
97Chris Hanburger
98Gerry Philbin
99Ernie Wright
100John Brodie
101Tucker Frederickson
102Bobby Walden
103Dick Gordon
104Walter Johnson
105Mike Lucci
106Checklist Double Print
107Ron Berger
108Dan Sullivan
109George Kunz RC
110Floyd Little
111Zeke Bratkowski
112Haven Moses
113Ken Houston RC
114Willie Lanier RC
115Larry Brown
116Tim Rossovich
117Errol Linden
118Mel Renfro
119Mike Garrett
120Fran Tarkenton
121Garo Yepremian RC
122Glen Condren
123Johnny Roland
124Dave Herman
125Merlin Olsen
126Doug Buffone
127Earl McCullouch
128Spider Lockhart
129Ken Willard
130Gene Washington Vik
131Mike Phipps RC
132Andy Russell
133Ray Nitschke
134Jerry Logan
135MacArthur Lane RC
136Jim Turner
137Kent McCloughan
138Paul Guidry
139Otis Taylor
140Virgil Carter RC
141Joe Dawkins
142Steve Preece
143Mike Bragg RC
144Bob Lilly
145Joe Kapp
146Al Dodd
147Nick Buoniconti
148Speedy Duncan
149Cedrick Hardman RC
151Jim Otto
152Billy Truax
153John Elliott
154Dick LeBeau
155Bill Bergey
156Terry Bradshaw RC
157Leroy Kelly
158Paul Krause
159Ted Vactor
160Bob Griese
161Ernie McMillan
162Donny Anderson
163John Pitts
164Dave Costa
165Gene Washington 49er
166John Zook
167Pete Gogolak
168Erich Barnes
169Alvin Reed
170Jim Nance
171Craig Morton
172Gary Garrison
173Joe Scarpati
174Adrian Young Error
175John Mackey
176Mac Percival
177Preston Pearson RC
178Fred Biletnikoff
179Mike Battle RC
180Len Dawson
181Les Josephson
182Royce Berry
183Herman Weaver
184Norm Snead
185Sam Brunelli
186Jim Kiick RC
187Austin Denney
188Roger Wehrli RC
189Dave Wilcox
190Bob Hayes
191Joe Morrison
192Manny Sistrunk
193Don Cockroft RC
194Lee Bouggess
195Bob Berry
196Ron Sellers
197George Webster
198Hoyle Granger
199Bob Vogel
200Bart Starr
201Mike Mercer
202Dave Smith WR
203Lee Roy Caffey
204Mick Tingelhoff
205Matt Snell
206Jim Tyrer
207Willie Brown
208Bob Johnson RC
209Deacon Jones
210Charlienders RC
211Jake Scott RC
212Bob Anderson RC
213Charlie Krueger
214Jim Bakken
215Harold Jackson
216Bill Brundige
217Calvin Hill
218Claude Humphrey
219Glen Ray Hines
220Bill Nelsen
221Roy Hilton
222Don Herrmann
223John Bramlett
224Ken Ellis
225Dave Osborn
226Edd Hargett RC
227Gene Mingo
228Larry Grantham
229Dick Post
230Roman Gabriel
231Mike Eischeid
232Jim Lynch
233Lemar Parrish RC
234Cecil Turner
235Dennis Shaw RC
236Mel Farr
237Curt Knight
238Chuck Howley
239Bruce Taylor RC
240Jerry LeVias
241Bob Lurtsema
242Earl Morrall
243Kermit Alexander
244Jackie Smith
245Joe Greene RC
246Harmon Wages
247Errol Mann
248Mike McCoy DT RC
249Milt Morin RC
250Joe Namath
251Jackie Burkett
252Steve Chomyszak
253Ed Sharockman
254Robert Holmes RC
255John Hadl
256Cornell Gordon
257Mark Moseley RC
258Gus Otto
259Mike Taliaferro
261Paul Warfield
262Jack Concannon
263Tom Matte

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Rob Bertrand is an avid collector with over 20 years of active experience in the hobby. He is one of the site's most accomplished writers, as well as the co-host of Cardboard Connection Radio. You can follow him on Twitter @VOTC.

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