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1972 Topps Football Cards

1972 Topps Football Cards

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The 1972 Topps Football card set would be the first and only time that a football card set was issued in three series. However, the decision to include a third series seems to have been made at the last minute. There were no checklists for the new series as there had been in previous years, and the final series has long been a very scarce issue. In the end, the set contained 351 cards, which made it the largest football card set ever released up until that time.

The key rookie cards of the 1972 Topps set belongs to Roger Staubach (#200) and John Riggins (#13). Other notable rookies include Archie Manning (#55), Lyle Alzado (#106), L.C. Greenwood (#101), Charlie Joyner (#244), Gene Upshaw (#186), Emmitt Thomas (#157), Larry Little (#240), Rayfield Wright (#316), Ron Yary (#104), Ted Hendricks (#93), Jim Plunkett (#65) and Steve Spurrier (#291). One of the more elusive and expensive cards in the set is Joe Namath's Pro Action card, which is part of the third series.

For the first time in several years, the 1972 Topps Football card release was produced with subsets including:

  • Conference Leaders - #1-8
  • Playoffs - #133-139
  • All-Pro - #264-287
  • Pro Action - #119-132, #250-263, #338-351


Measuring 2-1/2 by 3-1/2 inches, the cards feature both a horizontal and vertical layout. The card fronts showcase a very basic design in comparison to previous years' sets. There are no banners or cartoons, or even team-specific logos, just square shapes and block lettering. The cards include a player picture, with his name and position towards the bottom of the picture and superimposed over the image. The team name is shown at the top of the card inside a box that frames the picture. Each team has its own distinct color scheme. A white border surrounds the entire card. The backs of the cards feature the player's name, position and team arranged across the top and the rest of the card broken into two sections. On the left are vital stats and a cartoon about the player, along with a circle containing the card number. The right side features a biography and year-by-year statistics for most players.

Printing and Distribution

Originally, it appears Topps went with the same 132-cards series format it had used since 1969. The two series releases create a 263-card set, just like the three previous years. However, a third series of 88 cards showed up very late in the season. They don't appear to have been distributed in mass quantities. In fact, many of them have filtered into the hobby over the years after being offered by one seller who managed to hold onto several cases of them. As a result, the cards in the third series are much more valuable than the cards #1-263.

The 1972 issue was the last time a football card set by Topps was released in multiple series. The first two were available in wax and rack packs as well as cellos and vending boxes. The third series, however, was released in smaller quantities and was not widely available, but regionally, could be found in both wax and rack packs. Card number 79, the checklist, is a double-print, as it was printed in both the first and second series. The third series of cards contains numbers 264-351.

Condition Issues

Common condition issues for the 1972 Topps Football card set mostly center around printing defects including print dots and smudges. Other issues frequently seen in the set include rough cut edges and poor centering. There are several uncorrected error cards having mostly to do with misspellings and inaccurate information. The most notable of these is the card of Mike Curtis (#326) who is given credit as being the MVP of the1971 Super Bowl. However, in actuality, Chuck Howley was the recipient of that award.


Key Cards

Key 1972 Topps Football Cards

Joe Namath IA #343

1972 Topps Football Cards 1

Roger Staubach RC #200

1972 Topps Football Cards 2

Steve Spurrier RC #291

1972 Topps Football Cards 3

Bob Greise AP #272

1972 Topps Football Cards 4

Dick Butkus IA #341

1972 Topps Football Cards 5

1972 Topps Football Cards 6

Set Checklist

1972 Topps Football Set Checklist

Base Set Checklist

Featuring 351 cards

1 1971 AFC Rushing Leaders (Floyd Little, Larry Csonka, Marv Hubbard)
2 1971 NFC Rushing Leaders (John Brockington, Steve Owens, Willie Ellison)
3 1971 AFC Passing Leaders (Bob Griese, Len Dawson, Virgil Carter)
4 1971 NFC Passing Leaders (Roger Staubach, Greg Landry, Billy Kilmer)
5 1971 AFC Receiving Leaders (Fred Biletnikoff, Otis Taylor, Randy Vataha)
6 1971 NFC Receiving Leaders (Bob Tucker, Ted Kwalick, Harold Jackson, Roy Jefferson)
7 1971 AFC Scoring Leaders (Garo Yepremian, Jan Stenerud, Jim O'Brien)
8 1971 NFC Scoring Leaders (Curt Knight, Errol Mann, Bruce Gossett)
9 Jim Kiick
10 Otis Taylor
11 Bobby Joe Green
12 Ken Ellis
13 John Riggins RC
14 Dave Parks
15 John Hadl
16 Ron Hornsby
17 Chip Myers RC
18 Billy Kilmer
19 Fred Hoaglin
20 Carl Eller
21 Steve Zabel
22 Vic Washington RC
23 Len St. Jean
24 Bill Thompson
25 Steve Owens RC
26 Ken Burrough RC
27 Mike Clark
28 Willie Brown
29 Checklist
30 Marlin Briscoe RC
31 Jerry Logan
32 Donny Anderson
33 Rich McGeorge
34 Charlie Durkee
35 Willie Lanier
36 Chris Farasopoulos
37 Ron Shanklin RC
38 Forrest Blue RC
39 Ken Reaves
40 Roman Gabriel
41 Mac Percival
42 Lem Barney
43 Nick Buoniconti
44 Charlie Gogolak
45 Bill Bradley RC
46 Joe Jones
47 Dave Williams
48 Pete Athas
49 Virgil Carter
50 Floyd Little
51 Curt Knight
52 Bobby Maples
53 Charlie West
54 Marv Hubbard RC
55 Archie Manning RC
56 Jim O'Brien RC
57 Wayne Patrick
58 Ken Bowman
59 Roger Wehrli
60 Charlie Sanders
61 Jan Stenerud
62 Willie Ellison
63 Walt Sweeney
64 Ron Smith
65 Jim Plunkett RC
66 Herb Adderley UER
67 Mike Reid RC
68 Richard Caster RC
69 Dave Wilcox
70 Leroy Kelly
71 Bob Lee RC
72 Verlon Biggs
73 Henry Allison
74 Steve Ramsey
75 Claude Humphrey
76 Bob Grim RC
77 John Fuqua
78 Ken Houston
79 Checklist DP
80 Bob Griese
81 Lance Rentzel
82 Ed Podolak RC
83 Ike Hill
84 George Farmer
85 John Brockington RC
86 Jim Otto
87 Richard Neal
88 Jim Hart
89 Bob Babich
90 Gene Washington
91 John Zook
92 Bobby Duhon
93 Ted Hendricks RC
94 Rockne Freitas
95 Larry Brown
96 Mike Phipps
97 Julius Adams
98 Dick Anderson
99 Fred Willis
100 Joe Namath
101 L.C. Greenwood RC
102 Mark Nordquist
103 Robert Holmes
104 Ron Yary RC
105 Bob Hayes
106 Lyle Alzado RC
107 Bob Berry
108 Phil Villapiano RC
109 Dave Elmendorf
110 Gale Sayers
111 Jim Tyrer
112 Mel Gray RC
113 Gerry Philbin
114 Bob James
115 Garo Yepremian
116 Dave Robinson
117 Jeff Queen
118 Norm Snead
119 Jim Nance IA
120 Terry Bradshaw IA
121 Jim Kiick IA
122 Roger Staubach IA
123 Bo Scott IA
124 John Brodie IA
125 Rick Volk IA
126 John Riggins IA
127 Bubba Smith IA
128 Roman Gabriel IA
129 Calvin Hill IA
130 Bill Nelsen IA
131 Tom Matte IA
132 Bob Griese IA
133 AFC Semi-Final
134 NFC Semi-Final
135 AFC Semi-Final
136 NFC Semi-Final
137 AFC Championship Game
138 NFC Championship Game
139 Super Bowl VI
140 Larry Csonka
141 Rick Volk
142 Roy Jefferson
143 Raymond Chester RC
144 Bobby Douglass
145 Bob Lilly
146 Harold Jackson
147 Pete Gogolak
148 Art Malone
149 Ed Flanagan
150 Terry Bradshaw
151 MacArthur Lane
152 Jack Snow
153 Al Beauchamp
154 Bob Anderson
155 Ted Kwalick RC
156 Dan Pastorini RC
157 Emmitt Thomas RC
158 Randy Vataha RC
159 Al Atkinson
160 O.J. Simpson
161 Jackie Smith
162 Ernie Kellerman
163 Dennis Partee
164 Jake Kupp
165 Johnny Unitas
166 Clint Jones RC
167 Paul Warfield
168 Ron McDole
169 Daryle Lamonica
170 Dick Butkus
171 Jim Butler
172 Mike McCoy
173 Dave Smith
174 Greg Landry
175 Tom Dempsey
176 John Charles
177 Bobby Bell
178 Don Horn
179 Bob Trumpy
180 Duane Thomas
181 Merlin Olsen
182 Dave Herman
183 Jim Nance
184 Pete Beathard
185 Bob Tucker
186 Gene Upshaw RC
187 Bo Scott
188 J.D. Hill RC
189 Bruce Gossett
190 Bubba Smith
191 Edd Hargett
192 Gary Garrison
193 Jake Scott
194 Fred Cox
195 Sonny Jurgensen
196 Greg Brezina RC
197 Ed O'Bradovich
198 John Rowser
199 Altie Taylor UER
200 Roger Staubach RC
201 Leroy Keyes RC
202 Garland Boyette
203 Tom Beer
204 Buck Buchanan
205 Larry Wilson
206 Scott Hunter RC
207 Ron Johnson
208 Sam Brunelli
209 Deacon Jones
210 Fred Biletnikoff
211 Bill Nelsen
212 George Nock
213 Dan Abramowicz
214 Irv Goode
215 Isiah Robertson RC
216 Tom Matte
217 Pat Fischer
218 Gene Washington
219 Paul Robinson
220 John Brodie
221 Manny Fernandez RC
222 Errol Mann
223 Dick Gordon
224 Calvin Hill
225 Fran Tarkenton
226 Jim Turner
227 Jim Mitchell
228 Pete Liske
229 Carl Garrett
230 Joe Greene
231 Gale Gillingham
232 Norm Bulaich RC
233 Spider Lockhart
234 Ken Willard
235 George Blanda
236 Wayne Mulligan
237 Dave Lewis
238 Dennis Shaw
239 Fair Hooker
240 Larry Little RC
241 Mike Garrett
242 Glen Ray Hines
243 Myron Pottios
244 Charlie Joiner RC
245 Len Dawson
246 W.K. Hicks
247 Les Josephson
248 Lance Alworth UER
249 Frank Nunley
250 Mel Farr IA
251 Johnny Unitas IA
252 George Farmer IA
253 Duane Thomas IA
254 John Hadl IA
255 Vic Washington IA
256 Don Horn IA
257 L.C. Greenwood IA
258 Bob Lee IA
259 Larry Csonka IA
260 Mike McCoy IA
261 Greg Landry IA
262 Ray May IA
263 Bobby Douglass IA
264 Charlie Sanders AP
265 Ron Yary AP
266 Rayfield Wright AP
267 Larry Little AP
268 John Niland AP
269 Forrest Blue AP
270 Otis Taylor AP
271 Paul Warfield AP
272 Bob Griese AP
273 John Brockington AP
274 Floyd Little AP
275 Garo Yepremian AP
276 Jerrel Wilson AP
277 Carl Eller AP
278 Bubba Smith AP
279 Alan Page AP
280 Bob Lilly AP
281 Ted Hendricks AP
282 Dave Wilcox AP
283 Willie Lanier AP
284 Jim Johnson AP
285 Willie Brown AP
286 Bill Bradley AP
287 Ken Houston AP
288 Mel Farr
289 Kermit Alexander
290 John Gilliam RC
291 Steve Spurrier RC
292 Walter Johnson
293 Jack Pardee
294 Checklist UER
295 Winston Hill
296 Hugo Hollas
297 Ray May RC
298 Jim Bakken
299 Larry Carwell
300 Alan Page
301 Walt Garrison
302 Mike Lucci
303 Nemiah Wilson
304 Carroll Dale
305 Jim Kanicki
306 Preston Pearson
307 Lemar Parrish
308 Earl Morrall
309 Tommy Nobis
310 Rich Jackson
311 Doug Cunningham
312 Jim Marsalis
313 Jim Beirne
314 Tom McNeill
315 Milt Morin
316 Rayfield Wright RC
317 Jerry LeVias
318 Travis Williams RC
319 Edgar Chandler
320 Bob Wallace
321 Delles Howell
322 Emerson Boozer
323 George Atkinson RC
324 Mike Montler
325 Randy Johnson
326 Mike Curtis UER
327 Miller Farr
328 Horst Muhlmann
329 John Niland RC
330 Andy Russell
331 Mercury Morris
332 Jim Johnson
333 Jerrel Wilson
334 Charley Taylor
335 Dick Lebeau
336 Jim Marshall
337 Tom Mack
338 Steve Spurrier IA
339 Floyd Little IA
340 Len Dawson IA
341 Dick Butkus IA
342 Larry Brown IA
343 Joe Namath IA
344 Jim Turner IA
345 Doug Cunningham IA
346 Edd Hargett IA
347 Steve Owens IA
348 George Blanda IA
349 Ed Podolak IA
350 Rich Jackson IA
351 Ken Willard IA



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Rob is a former member of The Cardboard Connection Writing Staff and co-host of Cardboard Connection Radio.He is an avid collector with over 20 years of active experience in the hobby.

User Reviews

Will Gosier
Will Gosier

Where does the high number set start with and who r they

Trey Treutel
Trey Treutel

This is specifically noted in the Printing and Distribution section.

The 1972 issue was the last time a football card set by Topps was released in multiple series. The first two were available in wax and rack packs as well as cellos and vending boxes. The third series, however, was released in smaller quantities and was not widely available, but regionally, could be found in both wax and rack packs. Card number 79, the checklist, is a double-print, as it was printed in both the first and second series. The third series of cards contains numbers 264-351.

Phil Chmiel
Phil Chmiel

Nice set but the IN ACTION photos are terrible. They should have zoomed in on the featured player a bit more.

Great article. Just what I needed for the question I have. Now I more questions after reading the article. How many cases were produced of series III? How many cards were produced? This would help me understand why they are so high. But thank you for the insight.

Thomas C
Thomas C

It is truly the Top of Topps sets for the 70’s.

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