Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Fun With Football

I've been spending quite a bit of time lately putting together Topps football sets from the 80s. It's my favorite NFL era despite the fact that the Colts bailed in 1984.

I showed the '86 set a month or two back. That will always be my favorite 'modern' Topps fb set. But the follow-up, the 1987 set ain't bad. Topps matched team colors to the cards (mostly), and they could show helmet logos and all that. The flag design element leaves room for a large player pic. I wouldn't call it 'inspired', but it's grown on me. And, hey...Eric Dickerson appeared in those ultra-cool goggles.

I put the William Andrews card here because those Falcon uniforms were amazing. So good, in fact, that I insisted my teams wear similar ones. I got laughed at.

Nice, right? OK, maybe it's just me. But I love the color combo.

Only the Chargers were close.

The set runs to 396 cards including the two checklists which finish it off. Topps used the team-by-team format as they had in '86. Teams are in order of the '86 season records, from the SB Champion Giants, through the other playoff squads, and on down to the 2-win Bucs.

The 80s were a star-laden time in the NFL and obviously, they are all here. Joe Montana on the headset. I used to have a collection of 'Guys on the phone' which showed players using electronic devices, bullpen phones, headsets, microphones, etc, and this was part of it.

All-Pro players like Jerry Rice got a designation under the team name. 

The backs are readable. I've seen plenty worse.

The set starts off with a Super Bowl tribute card saluting the Giants' win the previous season.

 Then we get seven Record Breakers.

Then it's on to the teams. Each gets a highlight-type with a checklist on the reverse and then players presented by position, quarterbacks, running backs, receivers, and on and on through the DBs. Occasionally a team threw Topps a curve and they had to adjust.

In the case of the Eagles, LB Mike Reichenbach takes the spot that would have belonged to Ron Jaworski. Jaws was winding down his playing career and had been released by Buddy Ryan between the time this set was planned and the time it was executed. You may also notice in the scan above that the Steelers only had four defensive players on cards. No more Steel Curtain buy 1987.

There were five Leaders cards. In this case, we have ED and Curt 'The Other One' Warner.

Interesting cards are scattered throughout.

You don't see many choreographed pre-game stretch cards these days.

Pensive kicker being pensive.

Man, the Colts' lack of talent at QB between Bert Jones and Peyton Manning is displayed right here. But by this time I was happy to see it.

Here is the optimally-named Chuck Long.

Mark Malone was entering his fourth year as the Steelers' starter and his 29th year of looking like a Hollywood type-cast badass.

Topps had a few guys designated as 'Super Rookies" including my man, Ernest Givens

I'm a sucker for sideline cape shots.


And Lawrence Taylor, a guy whose personal life drags down his legacy as the best defensive player I've ever seen.

As they did many times, Topps had an insert that featured the 1000 yard runners and receivers of the previous seasons.

I picked this one up cheap. I'm kind of surprised at the fact that sets from the late 90s cost much more than this one. Chalk it up to overproduction.


  1. All I have from this set is about half of the Steelers, so I didn't realize how nice this set could be.

    I should pick up that Super Bowl card... I remember watching that game with friends who were not sports fans but we were bored and everybody was talking about the Giants (I was still in NY at the time).

  2. A fun design. I'm not super into the typography inside the pennants but I really like how the different subset designs work together.

    Also digging that Rice card where it looks like he's setting up to pass on Candlestick's dirt infield.

  3. I ignored football cards in the '80s. But I like the designs of a lot of them. The '87 set has a nice old-school appeal.

  4. I love those old Falcons uniforms. And I was thinking about buying a set of '87 Topps before reading this post since I have '86 and '88. I'm going to give it a closer look now.

  5. I forgot that I even bought 1987 Topps football packs... until I saw that Rueben Mayes. My best friend at the time was a closet Saints fan and loved Mayes. I pulled it and either traded or gave it to him. And I totally remember Largent setting the record for consecutive games with a reception. My favorite card is probably the Jerry Rice. Can't imagine there are too many cards of him rolling out to pass the ball (which according to FB Reference) was incomplete.

  6. Topps had a great format in the 1980s with the 396 card set. I remember trying to predict what 10-13 players per team would get a card. The biggest surprise that year was the first card I saw. Tom Holmoe a nickel back with the 49ers. He got the card I Believe because he finished in the top 10 in interception yards in 1986.