If you like surprises, then you would have delighted in collecting 1972 Topps football cards first run.

After establishing a pattern of issuing sets that fit neatly onto 132-card sheets, and generally in two series (264 cards total), Topps tried to sneak one by collectors late in the 1972 season.

In particular, they pushed out an unprecedented third series, which contained just 88 cards.

1972 Topps football cards wax packs box unopened

That third series didn’t get the blanket coverage that the first two pushes of the year did, though, and that created scarcity — scarcity that hasn’t been lost on collectors over the years.

So, while this list of the 12 most valuable 1972 Topps football cards is populated with the sorts of rookie cards and Hall of Famers you would expect, it’s also colored heavily by that hard-to-come-by third series.

Those high numbers — and all the rest of this list — were culled from PSA 8 values as listed in the PSA Sports Market Report Price Guide.

Let’s dig in!

1972 Topps Roger Staubach Rookie Card (#200)

1972 Topps Roger Staubach

Roger Staubach slid to the later rounds of the 1964 AFL and NFL Drafts, due in large part to his impending military obligation to the U.S. Navy.

When Staubach finished his service and was ready for football in 1969, the two leagues had merged, and the Cowboys were still waiting for him.

Paired with legendary coach Tom Landry, armed with offensive weapons galore, and backed up by a strong defense, Staubach led the Cowboys to 10 playoff runs in his ensuing 11-year career.

Two of those seasons ended with Super Bowl rings.

Staubach retired in 1979 as one of the most revered quarterbacks ever, and he was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1985.

His 1972 Topps rookie card is a key piece in the entire decade and sells for about $1100 in PSA 8 condition.

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1972 Topps Rayfield Wright Rookie Card (#316)

1972 Topps Rayfield Wright

You don’t hear much about right tackles, but it’s tough to have a really great offense without stellar blocking and protection on that strong side.

Wright did all that better than most, and he even caught a few balls during his career, which ended the same time as Staubach’s.

All told, Wright picked up six Pro Bowl and three All-Pro selections, and he ended up in Canton, too.

His rookie card is part of that tough 1972 Topps high number series and hammers down for about $225 in graded NM-MT condition these days.

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1972 Topps Steve Spurrier Rookie Card (#291)

1972 Topps Steve Spurrier

Steve Spurrier was the third overall pick in the 1967 NFL Draft, and then spent most of the next decade as a backup QB for the San Francisco 49ers.

Of course, a move to the sideline changed everything for Spurrier, and it’s his role as The Old Ball Coach that lands him on this list.

One of the greatest college coaches of all-time, Spurrier’s high number RC checks in around $150 in PSA 8.

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1972 Topps Joe Namath In Action (#343)

1972 Topps Joe Namath In Action

Joe Namath was still riding the glory of the New York Jets’ victory in Super Bowl III when 1972 rolled around.

At least in terms of popularity.

On the field, injuries had limited him to just nine games in 1970 and 1971 combined.

But he’d turn in a mostly healthy season in 1972, leading the NFL in passing yardage. And … he had this nifty high number action card.

It’s a $150 buy in PSA 8 condition.

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1972 Topps Mercury Morris (#331)

1972 Topps Mercury Morris

In 1972, the Miami Dolphins turned in the only perfect full season — playoffs included — in NFL history.

Bruising running back Larry Csonka led the their offensive attack with 1117 yards on the ground.

The slighter and speedier Mercury Morris was right behind, though, with 1000 of his own, making the duo the first pair of teammates to each rush for over a grand in the same season.

Though Morris fell short of the career totals of his Hall of Fame backfield mate, he remains popular with Dolphins fans and in the hobby.

His high number 1972 Topps issue pushes $100 in PSA 8 today.

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1972 Topps Terry Bradshaw (#150)

1972 Topps Terry Bradshaw

Bradshaw didn’t waste much time in establishing himself as the man in Pittsburgh after the Steelers made him the first overall pick in the 1970 NFL Draft out of Louisiana Tech.

By the end of that first season, he was the team’s starting QB, and he wouldn’t let go of those reins for over a decade.

In between, he led the Steelers to four Super Bowl titles and built an ironclad Hall of Fame resume.

Today, the popular broadcaster’s 1972 Topps card sells for about $75 in PSA 8.

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1972 Topps Alan Page (#300)

1972 Topps Alan Page

Alan Page was a founding member of the Minnesota Vikings’ famed Purple People Eaters defense that dominated opposing teams from the late 1960s and through most of the 1970s.

The towering right tackle was a menace to quarterbacks and every other dude who might touch the ball during the course of a game, and he also recovered 23 fumbles during his career.

A six-time All-Pro and a Hall of Famer, Page checks in here with a $70+ high number card.

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1972 Topps Dick Butkus In Action (#341)

1972 topps dick butkus pro action

And speaking of high number defensive monsters, here we have a late-career card of that Monster of the Midway, Dick Butkus.

One of the greatest middle linebackers of all-time, Butkus would play through the 1973 season before sailing into Canton in 1979.

This is a $60 card in graded NM-MT condition.

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1972 Topps George Blanda In Action (#348)

1972 Topps George Blanda In Action

Blanda was 44 years old and well into his second NFL career as a kicker when this action shot was snapped in 1971.

The old guy just got older, as he played all the way through 1975 before making his way to the Hall of Fame in 1981.

This high number beauty sells for about $60 today (PSA 8).

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1972 Topps Steve Owens in Action (#347)

1972 Topps Steve Owens

As a second-year back in 1971, Steve Owens rushed for 1035 yards for a so-so Detroit Lions team.

Given that bleak setting and the fact that Owens’ productivity dropped off quickly in subsequent years, it’s little wonder he doesn’t get a lot of love in the hobby.

But this striking high-number action card — his rookie card appears elsewhere in the set — can fetch close to $50 in PSA 8.

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1972 Topps Bob Griese All Pro (#272)

1972 Topps Bob Griese All Pro

Griese missed out on a good chunk of the Dolphins’ perfect 1972 season due to injury, but the guy was already a superstar and remained so later on.

In 1971, he was a first-team All-Pro selection, and this high number Topps card from 1972 commemorates that achievement.

Today, this pasteboard sells for about $50 if you find it in slabbed NM-MT condition.

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