The Chicago Bears of the 1970s had an awful lot in common with 1976 Topps football cards.

Or at least one thing … they were — and in the case of ’76 Topps, still are — carried on the shoulders of one man.

More on that dude below, but just know that the Bears may have never developed into the 1985 Bears if not for the same guy who transformed the 1976 Topps set from $10 afterthought to a price driver for an entire decade’s worth of cardboard.

1976 topps football cards unopened wax packs box

Of course, there’s more to any set of cards than just one player, and that’s true for ’76 Topps FB, too.

Here, then, are the most valuable 1976 Topps football cards, as listed in the PSA Sports Market Report Price Guide for copies in PSA 8 condition.

Hut! Hut!

1976 Topps Walter Payton Rookie Card (#148)

1976 Topps Walter Payton

So, yeah, this is the guy that makes the 1976 Topps set equivalent — in some ways, at least — to the 1970s Bears.

Beyond Payton, both the set and team were a bit lackluster in terms of player selection, but that doesn’t matter much when you have the greatest running back of all time on your side.

(Yes, I said it — he’s the greatest. To me, at least.)

Anyway, by the time the hobby was ready to boom in earnest in the mid-1980s, Sweetness was on the cusp of breaking Jim Brown‘s all-time record for rushing yardage.

And, even though Emmitt Smith has since topped Payton, and even though Barry Sanders probably could have, too, Walter’s rookie card remains a hobby key.

Today, you can expect to pay close to $500 for a graded NM-MT copy.

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1976 Topps Jack Lambert Rookie Card (#220)

1976 Topps Jack Lambert

Lambert already had a couple of seasons — and a couple of Super Bowl rings — to his name by the time Topps got around to issuing his rookie card.

And, while linebackers have a hard time keeping up with running backs in terms of hobby appeal, Lambert is a stone-cold Steelers legend.

He’s also a Hall of Famer, which helps keep his RC at $50+ in PSA 8 condition.

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1976 Topps Super Bowl X (Bradshaw) (#333)

1976 Topps Super Bowl X (Bradshaw)

Speaking of the Steelers and the Super Bowl, the one guy who ties those entities together like no other is Terry Bradshaw.

The quarterback for each of the Steelers’ first four titles, Bradshaw was on a path headed straight for Canton by the time this card commemorating Pittsburgh’s Super Bowl X victory hit collectors’ hands in 1976.

Today, this is about a $50 buy in PSA 8 condition.

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1976 Topps Robert Brazile Rookie Card (#424)

1976 Topps Robert Brazile

Playing in Houston with the old Oilers didn’t help Brazile’s visibility much, but the man was a standout at linebacker for a full decade, all in Houston.

With two All-Pro selections and seven Pro Bowl games to his name, Brazile finally made the Hall of Fame in 2018, which helped nudge his card values northward.

This 1976 rookie card sells for $35 or so in PSA 8 condition these days.

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1976 Topps Randy White Rookie Card (#158)

1976 Topps Randy White

Are you seeing a pattern here?

White is a guy who didn’t play a glamour position, but then every position for the 1970s Dallas Cowboys came with a fair amount of glitz and glam.

For his part, White stepped into the starting right defensive tackle slot in 1977 and terrorized opposing QBs and other ball-handlers for the next 11 seasons.

Another Hall of Famer, White’s 1976 Topps RC hammers down around $30 in PSA 8.

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1976 Topps Roger Staubach (#395)

1976 Topps Roger Staubach

By 1976, Staubach had long since shaken off any QB rust that accumulated during his days in the Navy, and he was well on his way to becoming a Cowboys legend.

I mean, is there any more visible or desirable position in all of sports than signal-caller for the Dallas Cowboys?

Not many, for sure, and that was especially true in the 1970s.

Staubach led the ‘Boys to two titles on his way to Canton, and stopped just long enough to pose for this (now) $25 card as 1976 dawned.

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1976 Topps Brian Sipe Rookie Card (#516)

1976 Topps Brian Sipe

Sipe lasted until the 13th round and the 330th overall pick in the 1973 Draft before the Cleveland Browns finally took a flyer.

And then, he didn’t make his NFL debut for another two full years.

Soon after that, though, he was the starting QB in Cleveland, and he stayed there for most of the next decade.

Though Sipe was never a superstar and though the Browns didn’t really go anywhere under his leadership, he was a solid performer who remains the team’s all-time leader in passing yardage.

For that distinction and more, his 1976 Topps rookie card checks in around $25 in slabbed NM-MT condition.

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1976 Topps Terry Bradshaw (#75)

1976 Topps Terry Bradshaw

Why is this solo Bradshaw card way down here at about $20 in PSA 8 while the Bradshaw Super Bowl card is way up there (see above, like way up)?

Historical significance, maybe?

Or maybe a condition population disparity?

Maybe … but it’s hard to discount the fact that Bradshaw’s mug is on full display on this particular card, but not the other.

Right?

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1976 Topps Curley Culp (#40)

1976 Topps Curley Culp

Curley Culp may sound like the name of a Harlem Globetrotter or a long lost stooge, but old-time fans know the truth …

Namely, that Culp was a standout defensive tackle for the Kansas City Chiefs in the first half of the 1970s and nose tackle for the Houston Oilers in the latter half of the decade.

Oh, and he’s a Hall of Famer.

His 1976 Topps card is a $20 buy in PSA 8 condition.

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1976 Topps Ed “Too Tall” Jones (#427)

1976 Topps Ed (Too Tall) Jones

Ho hum … another 1970s Cowboys standout, another card in our top 12.

In this case, Too Tall Jones checks in with a $20 card (PSA 8), but his presence here begs one question — how is he not in the Hall of Fame?

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1976 Topps O.J. Simpson Record Breaker (#6)

1976 Topps O.J. Simpson RB

One dude who is enshrined in Canton, regardless of all the crap he’s rained down on his own life over the years, is O.J. Simpson.

And, when he played, it seemed like O.J. was always on the brink of some record or another.

So, what specific 1975 Juice record does this $15+ card celebrate?

Just a little matter of his having scored 23 touchdowns in a single season, that’s all.

Dude took down Gale Sayers in the process, and also tied Lenny Moore by scoring a TD in all 14 regular season games.

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1976 Topps Lynn Swann (#140)

1976 Topps Lynn Swann

Swann was one of Bradshaw’s favorite targets during the Steelers’ romp through the 1970s, and he was also one of the most graceful.

Perfect name-visuals match, in other words.

Fans and hobbyists ate it all up, too, which leaves Swann’s 1976 Topps card at $15+ in graded NM-MT condition.

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1976 WALTER PAYTON - Topps "ROOKIE REPRINT" Football Card - # 148 - CHICAGO

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