In 1978, Topps returned with a 528-card football set for the sixth straight year. At the same time, the company came up with the least elaborate design since 1972. Some may call it a minimalist design, but others point out that a lack of competition was leading to more uninspired designs.
Card fronts feature the usual player picture that is either posed or from a sideline shot. The only real design element is a solid-colored frame around the picture. The left side is thicker and has the team name running along the vertical axis. A small recessed area between the frame and the picture contains the player's name and a football-shaped icon in the lower corner gives his position. There are three parts to the back design. A banner stretching across the top gives the player's name, team, position and vital stats, along with a football containing a card number. A cartoon about the player appears inside the shape of a football helmet, with a banner below it explaining the action. The rest of the card contains year-by-year statistics for most players, as well as a biography.
For the first time, team checklist cards feature team leaders in several different statistical categories on the front, and the checklist has been moved to the back. Those checklists are the final cards in the set, running from #501-528. Highlights from the 1977 season appear on cards #1-6 and a recap of the conference championships and the Super Bowl appear on cards #166-168. Cards #331-336 feature 1977's statistical leaders in each conference and five regular checklist cards appear throughout the set.
Notable rookies include Tony Dorsett, John Stallworth, Joe Klecko, Tom Jackson, Randy Cross, Wesley Walker, Stanley Morgan and Reggie Williams.