Baseball fans may have felt cheated if they happened to catch a glimpse of 1969 Topps football cards that fall.

After all, while Topps gave diamond collectors a classic issue with clear, big photos, those cards might strike some as … well, boring.

Boring wasn’t a problem at all for 1969 football, though, as the cards feature all sorts of funky player poses silhouetted over top of solid colored backgrounds that run across the full spectrum.

1969 Topps football cards unopened wax pack

Add in jazzy team logos and popping red and black font against a white card bottom, and you have one striking gridiron issue.

And one that’s full of goodies that the hobby loves even today — like these 12 most valuable 1969 Topps football cards (with price ranges culled from the PSA Sports Market Report Price Guide).

Let’s jump in!

1969 Topps Brian Piccolo Rookie Card (#26)

1969 Topps Brian Piccolo rookie card

Piccolo made the Bears as an undrafted free agent in 1965 and spent the next few seasons working his way into the starting lineup.

Finally, in 1969, Piccolo was installed as the starting fullback to complement future Hall of Famer Gale Sayers at tailback.

After nine games, Piccolo pulled himself from the lineup because he was having difficulty breathing. Subsequent medical tests showed that he had an aggressive form of testicular cancer.

By June of 1970, and after multiple surgeries and hospitalizations, Piccolo’s cancer had spread to multiple organs. He passed away on June 16.

In the years since, Sayers has talked in depth multiple times about his friend’s courage and demise, and the movie Brian’s Song tells Piccolo’s story.

Today, Piccolo remains a beloved figure in the sport and the hobby, and his rookie card sells for around $90 in PSA 7 condition.

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1969 Topps Joe Namath (#100)

1969 Topps Joe Namath

As Super Bowl III approached, Joe Namath guaranteed that the AFL’s New York Jets would defeat the mighty Baltimore Colts of the mighty NFL for the championship.

Everybody laughed at Broadway Joe for his bluster, as the Colts were favored by 18, and most observers thought even that spread was being generous to the Jets.

Namath delivered, though, winning the Super Bowl MVP award for leading New York to a stunning 16-7 victory over Johnny Unitas and his Baltimore squad.

From that day forward, Namath was a football celebrity, and his 1969 card — issued just months after his braggadocio — remains a hobby favorite at $65 in PSA 7.

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1969 Topps Larry Csonka Rookie Card (#120)

1969 Topps Larry Csonka rookie card

When the Miami Dolphins made Larry Csonka their first-round pick in the 1968 NFL Draft, general manager Joe Robbie hoped he’d found the man who could someday anchor a championship backfield.

Four years later, Csonka helped make Robbie’s daydream a reality when he ran for 1117 yards and scored six touchdowns to help the Fins notch the only perfect, wire-to-wire undefeated season in NFL history.

Then, in 1973, Don Shula‘s won another Super Bowl.

When all was said and done, Csonka had notched over 8000 yards on the ground, along with 800+ receiving yards and 68 touchdowns.

It was all good enough for a bust in Canton and a $65 rookie card (in PSA 7).

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1969 Topps Johnny Unitas (#25)

1969 Topps Johnny Unitas

Unitas appeared in just five games in 1968 at the age of 35, and you could have been forgiven for thinking the Baltimore great was just about done.

But he came back to take most of the snaps in Super Bowl III, then returned for five more seasons, playing 1969 and 1970 as the starter.

That last year, he helped the Colts back to the Big Game, where they downed the Dallas Cowboys, 16-13 — with Earl Morrall getting the lion’s share of the work for Baltimore in the pocket.

By then, though, Unitas’ legacy was secure, and he was headed for the Hall of Fame.

Today, his 1969 Topps card is a $45 buy in PSA 7 condition.

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1969 Topps Gale Sayers (#51)

1969 Topps Gale Sayers

Sayers himself was on the comeback trail when this card was issued in 1969, having appeared in just nine games the year before.

The new season brought a last great gasp to Sayers’ short career, though, and he led the NFL with 236 carries an 1032 yards, good for eight touchdowns.

Alas, all the wear and tear from that monster season was too much for Gale’s fragile physique, and he made it into just four more games combined in 1970 and 1971 before hanging up his cleats.

No matter, though, because he was a Chicago superstar, and skittered right into the Hall of Fame in 1977.

Today, this Topps card from Sayers’ shining moment of a season sells for around $45 in PSA 7.

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1969 Topps Dick Butkus (#139)

1969 Topps Dick Butkus

On the other side of the ball for the Bears, Butkus was in the middle of a nine-year career as one of the greatest middle linebackers the game has ever seen.

You have to wonder — don’t you? — how the Bears could have finished an atrocious 1-13 with Canton-bound guys at a couple of key spots on the field.

Oh, well … this Butkus issue is a $45 card in graded NM condition.

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1969 Topps Bart Starr (#215)

1969 Topps Bart Starr

As 1969 dawned, Starr was a full season removed from his last Super Bowl appearance, and a 6-7-1 record for the Packers in 1968 spelled trouble for the storied franchise.

Starr bounced in and out of the starter’s role the next three seasons before retiring after a four-appearance 1971 campaign.

Even in the middle of rough times, though, Starr looked like the classic QB on his 1969 Topps card, which pushes $40 these days.

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1969 Topps Fran Tarkenton (#150)

1969 Topps Fran Tarkenton

Who knew in 1969 that Tarkenton would go on to lead the Minnesota Vikings to three Super Bowl appearances — all losses — in the 1970s?

Or that he would become a television personality?

In the moment, Tarkenton was the QB for a blah New York Giants team that was going nowhere fast.

Tarkenton’s later achievements, though, boost this 1969 card to the $25 range in PSA 7.

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1969 Topps Bob Griese (#161)

1969 Topps Bob Griese

The Dolphins drafted Griese with the fourth pick in the 1967 NFL Draft, and he was starting at quarter by the end of that first season.

And, though 1968 and 1969 were rough seasons for the youngster and his team, better days were ahead.

It’s true that Griese missed most of the Fins perfect 1972 due to injury, but he bounced right back to lead them to another Super Bowl title in 1973.

A Miami legend, Griese checks in here at $25 in PSA 7 condition.

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1969 Topps Don Meredith (#75)

1969 Topps Don Meredith

Do you remember who the quarterback was for the Dallas Cowboys before Roger Staubach?

Well, yeah, Craig Morton — briefly.

But before that, it was Dandy Don Meredith, who landed three Pro Bowl appearances while the ‘Boys were trying to become The ‘Boys.

For that distinction, Meredith lines up here at about $20.

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1969 Topps Leroy Kelly (#1)

1969 Topps Leroy Kelly

And do you remember who replaced Jim Brown at running back for the Cleveland Browns?

Trick question, right? Because nobody really replaces Jim Brown at anything.

But Leroy Kelly gave it an admirable go, rushing for 1141 yards in 1966, then leading the NFL in both carries and yards in both 1967 and 1968.

Kelly finished his career with 7200+ yards on the ground, nearly 2300 receiving, and 87 total touchdowns.

And … he’s a Hall of Famer.

And … this is a number-one card.

It all adds up to a $20 price tag for copies in PSA 7 condition.

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1969 Topps Ray Nitschke (#55)

1969 Topps Ray Nitschke

Like Starr, Nitschke was winding down his Hall of Fame career with the Packers when this card came out.

And, like Starr, the All-Pro middle linebacker is a Green Bay legend.

Expect to pay close to $20 for a 1969 Topps Nitschke in slabbed NM condition.

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