When collectors started ripping open wax packs of 1974 Topps football cards that fall, they were plunged right into the depths of the modern gridiron world.

It all started with the basic card design, which featured a full-color player image framed by a goalpost that extended to the card bottom. On either side of that bottom post were the player’s name and position, and below all that was a simple box with the team name.

Photos ranged from posed waist-up shots to staged passing tableaus to gritty, in-game action.

1974 Topps football cards unopened wax pack

And, with a whopping 528 cards, this set offered something for everyone — retiring legends, in-their-prime superstars, and up-and-coming rookies who would roam NFL fields for the next decade or more.

But among all the joys of 1974 Topps football cards, these 12 have emerged as the most valuable today (as determined from prices for PSA 8 copies listed in the PSA Sports Market Report Price Guide).

Let’d check ’em out!

1974 Topps Ray Guy Rookie Card (#219)

1974 Topps Ray  Guy

It may have seemed strange to Raiders fans when Al Davis and John Madden selected a 23-year-old punter with their first pick in the 1973 NFL Draft, but it’s hard to argue with the results in retrospect.

In a 14-year career, Ray Guy helped the Men in Black win three Super Bowl rings, and he still holds the record for most postseason punts with 111.

Guy was almost synonymous with the 1970s Raiders, and he was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2014.

Today, his rookie card sells for around $100 in PSA 8 condition.

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1974 Topps Greg Pruitt Rookie Card (#110)

1974 Topps Greg  Pruitt

If you’re confused by the idea that the Cleveland Browns featured two running backs in the mid-to-late 1970s, and that they shared the same last name … yet weren’t related … and that each reeled off multiple 1000-yard seasons …

Well, stand in line, buddy.

But here in the 1974 Topps set, we only have to worry about the older of the two Pruitts — that would be Greg, a second-round pick out of Oklahoma in 1973.

Before going for a thousand each year from 1975-77, Pruitt spent time on special teams, and he did even more of that work late in his career.

In 1983, he led the NFL with 58 punt returns, 666 punt return yards, and a TD. Oh, yeah — he added 31 kick returns for 604 yards, just for good measure.

The 1974 Topps rookie card of this versatile and popular Cleveland running back checks in at $60 in PSA 8 these days.

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1974 Topps John Hannah Rookie Card (#383)

1974 Topps John  Hannah

The early 1970s weren’t a great time to be playing for the New England Patriots, but they had a few guys who were working hard to pull the franchise out of their losing ways.

One of those was their 1973 first-round pick out of Alabama, left guard John Hannah.

Hannah did his part …

During his 13-year career, he was an All-Pro seven times and helped the Pats make it to the playoffs in 1976, 1978, 1982, and 1985.

That last year, when they got trounced by the Bears in Super Bowl XX, was also Hannah’s last in the NFL. Six years later, he took his place in Canton.

Today, Hannah’s rookie card is a $50 item in PSA 8.

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1974 Topps Ken Stabler (#451)

1974 Topps Ken Stabler

The great 1970s Oakland Raiders teams were built on defense, hard hits, and a balanced, gritty offense that featured the likes of Cliff Branch, Fred Biletnikoff, and Mark van Eeghen.

Ken Stabler was just about the perfect guy to line up under center in this scheme, because he was always improvising and seemed to take advantage of just the right “weapon” at just the right time.

The Gambler led the Raiders to a Super Bowl title in 1976 and scrambled his way into Canton in 2016.

Today, his 1974 Topps issue is a $40 card in PSA 8.

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1974 Topps Super Bowl VIII (#463)

1974 Topps Super Bowl VIII

In January of 1974, the Miami Dolphins squared off against the Minnesota Vikings at Rice Stadium in Houston for all the NFL marbles — Super Bowl VIII, in this case.

Led by bruising fullback Larry Csonka, who rushed for 145 yards and two touchdowns, the Fins picked up an easy 24-7 victory.

It was their second consecutive championship and capped a dominant two-year run that included a perfect season in 1972.

Csonka’s big performance is immortalized on this 1974 Topps card, which sells for around $40 in graded NM-MT condition.

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1974 Topps Terry Bradshaw (#470)

1974 Topps Terry Bradshaw

For a stretch there in 1974, it looked like Bradshaw’s days in Pittsburgh might be numbered, what with losing the starting QB job to Joe Gilliam and all.

But, by season’s end, Terry was back in the driver’s seat, and he drove the team all the way to their first Super Bowl title ever.

Three more would ensue before the end of the decade, and Bradshaw became a legend.

This card, from the year everything clicked in Pittsburgh, is a $40 buy in PSA 8 condition.

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1974 Topps Roger Staubach (#500)

1974 Topps Roger Staubach

Staubach, on the other hand, spent 1974 smack dab between the two rings he won with the Cowboys — in 1971 and in 1977.

In the interim, his steady hand made Dallas a perennial playoff contender (even though they missed out in 1974).

The Dallas legend’s 1974 card lines up at about $40 in PSA 8 condition.

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1974 Topps O.J. Simpson Record Breaker (#1)

1974 Topps O.J. Simpson RB

On his way to the Hall of Fame, O.J. Simpson set all sorts of rushing records.

In 1973, a big one fell, as O.J. ran for 2003 yards to top Jim Brown‘s previous mark by 150 yards.

This 1974 Topps card commemorating the Juice’s feat sells for around $30 (PSA 8) today.

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1974 Topps Carl Eller (#5)

1974 Topps Carl Eller

Big Carl Eller (6’6″, 247 pounds) was one of the pillars of the famed Minnesota Vikings “Purple People Eater” defense that propelled the team to four Super Bowl appearances in the 1970s.

In 1974, Eller picked up a Pro Bowl nod and … appeared on this now-$30 football card.

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1974 Topps Joe Greene (#40)

1974 Topps Joe Greene

Like Bradshaw, Greene was a key in the Steelers’ rise to prominence in the 1970s.

Unlike the former Louisiana Tech QB, though, Greene’s 1974 status was never really in question.

Instead, he rolled to his third straight All-Pro selection at defensive tackle and even picked off a pass.

Greene’s 1974 Topps card is a $30 buy in PSA 8.

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1974 Topps Jim Tyrer (#85)

1974 Topps Jim Tyrer

Remember how Len Dawson developed into a Hall of Fame quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs during the 1960s?

Yeah … Jim Tyrer was the guy who protected Dawson’s blind side most of those years, racking up nine Pro Bowl and six All-Pro honors in the process.

This 1974 card was issued during Tyrer’s final season in the NFL, and sells for around $30 in PSA 8 today.

(Note: Tyrer’s post-football life took a dark and tragic turn.)

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1974 Topps Fran Tarkenton (#12)

1974 Topps Fran Tarkenton

By 1974, Tarkenton was in the third year of his return stint with the Vikings, fresh off a Super Bowl appearance in 1973 (a loss).

Another would follow in 1974, and again in 1976, both losses.

Tarkenton would end up in the Hall of Fame, though, and a post-football television career further boosted his public image.

All of that makes Tarkenton’s 1974 issue a $30 card in slabbed NM-MT condition.

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TERRY BRADSHAW 1974 TOPPS FOOTBALL CARD # 470 HOF PITTSBURGH STEELERS

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1974 Topps Football-John Unitas-HOF-#150

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1974 TOPPS FOOTBALL PICK 10 VG-EX OR BETTER

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1974 Topps Football Checklist Lot Cowboys

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1974 Topps Football Checklist 397-528 #498 Checklist Unmarked

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