1976 was one of the better designs of Topps' lengthy airbrush era and was the first set in a long time to actually use a football as part of its design. It also marked an expansion year, so the first cards of Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Seattle Seahawks players are found in that year's football set.
Card fronts feature a player picture, with a football icon that contained his team's name below. His name and position are then inserted into the white area that surrounds the card. As usual for Topps, each team has its own color scheme. Backs are broken into two main parts. The left side contains a football helmet with a card number inside, along with a blue stripe containing the team name. The player's name, position and vital stats follow. There is a biography and year-by-year stats for most players. The right side features one of two things: there is either a trivia cartoon or a series of questions about a mystery player from the same team.
Players who made the All-Pro squad are noted on their base cards with a designation in the lower right corner. Subset cards feature a textured design that resembles the outer layer of a football. Cards #1-8 feature record breakers from the 1975 season. Cards #201-206 feature statistical leaders in each conference. The '75 postseason is recapped on cards #331-333. For the first time ever, team checklist cards were included with the base set, they run from cards #451-478. As always, there were also regular checklist cards scattered throughout the set.
The key rookie card belongs to Walter Payton, but Jack Lambert, Harvey Martin, Randy White, Too Tall Jones and Randy Gradishar also appear for the very first time.