Just sitting there in a binder or monster box, or maybe piled in a heap on your bedroom floor, 1982 Topps football cards looked like just another 1980s set.

But they were much more than that for collectors of the day.

See, in the fall of 1982, after a lot chest thumping and bluster on both sides, the NFL players went on strike.

They stayed that way for 57 days, long enough to wipe out seven full weeks of the season.

When things finally got rolling in November, it was a nine-week sprint to the finish, filled with ill will and uneasiness all around.

About the only thing that was normal about the 1982 football season, then, were the cards that collectors could buy — as usual — at grocery stores, drugstores, and hobby shops everywhere.

In wax pack land, then, everything went on like normal. The players were all there, the stats were in full bloom, the action on the field was eternal.

And that’s one of the beauties of this hobby — no matter what is going on in life, you can grab a stack of cardboard rectangles and find some grounding, some escape, if even for just a few minutes.

In that spirit, let’s escape — for just a few minutes — into the depths of the most valuable 1982 Topps football cards, as culled from the PSA Sports Market Report Price Guide.

I’ll bet you remember and love at least a few of these beauties …

1982 Topps Lawrence Taylor Rookie Card (#434)

1982 Topps Lawrence  Taylor

It’s not often you find a linebacker sitting at the top of one of these types of lists, but then again, you don’t often find an LB taken number two overall in the NFL Draft, either.

But both of those distinctions hold for Lawrence Taylor, whom the New York Giants plucked from North Carolina with their first pick in 1981.

All Taylor did to reward them was … win the Defensive Player of the Year award as a rookie … win NFL MVP in 1986 … record 132.6 career sacks … nab 10 Pro Bowl and eight All-Pro sections.

And, oh yeah — he threw in a couple of Super Bowl rings for good measure.

After an inimitable 13-year career with the G-Men, Taylor waltzed into the Hall of Fame in 1999.

Taylor’s 1982 Topps rookie card has been a hobby favorite for years and today pushes toward $100 in PSA 9 condition.

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1982 Topps Ronnie Lott Rookie Card (#486)

1982 Topps Ronnie  Lott

Six slots down from Taylor in that 1981 Draft sat Ronnie Lott, a fast and physical defensive back from USC.

Lott was just what the San Francisco 49ers needed, and he stepped right in to their defensive backfield and didn’t look back for a decade.

A switch from cornerback to safety in 1985 only boosted Lott’s interception numbers, and he ended up with 63 over the course of his 14-year career.

Even returned five of those for touchdowns.

After two Super Bowls in San Fran, Lott moved on the the Raiders and then the Jets, but his ultimate football home was Canton.

Today, Lott’s rookie card sells for around $50 in slabbed MINT condition.

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1982 Topps Joe Montana (#488)

1982 Topps Joe  Montana

Montana had been working with Bill Walsh on overhauling the Niners offense for a couple of years by the time Lott arrived, and it all gelled in 1981.

Clocking his first 3000-yard season, Montana threw 19 touchdowns and, bolstered by an improved defense, led the squad to a 13-3 record.

A few playoff games, The Catch, and a thrilling Super Bowl against the Cincinnati Bengals later, and the Montana legend was in full bud.

His second-year Topps issue is a $25 card in PSA 9 today.

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1982 Topps Anthony Munoz Rookie Card (#51)

1982 Topps Anthony  Munoz

For a young fan (me), it was surreal to see the wild striped helmets of the Bengals in the Super Bowl against the 49ers early in 1982.

Not only did these guys play not so awfully far from my Indiana hometown, but they were always a losing team, so far as I knew.

But coach Forrest Gregg had a plan, and a big part of that was to plant 1980 first-round selection Anthony Munoz at left tackle and let quarterback Ken Anderson work with Pete Johnson, Chris Collinsworth, and other offensive weapons to put up some points.

Mission accomplished, as the big man from USC provided blind-side protection like few ever had.

These days, Munoz is widely considered one of the top handful of offensive lineman ever, and his RC checks in here at $20 (PSA 9).

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1982 Topps Walter Payton (#302)

1982 Topps Walter  Payton

Payton was hit harder than most by the players’ strike, as he never seemed to get completely on track — the Bears great averaged just 66 yards per game in that short season.

Never fear, though, because Sweetness had four more 1000-yard seasons in those legs of his, not to mention a slew of records, a Super Bowl ring, and a 1993 induction into the Hall of Fame.

Payton cardboard is popular wherever it appears, and this 1982 Topps card checks in at $20 in PSA 9.

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1982 Topps Cris Collinsworth (#44)

Lanky Cris Collinsworth fell to the second round coming out of Florida in 1981, but the Bengal shrewdly swooped in to pick him up.

Teaming with Anderson, Johnson, Munoz, and others on the young Bengals, Collinsworth pulled i n 67 catches for 1000 yards as a rookie that fall, helping Cincy all the way to the Super Bowl.

They’d get back to the promised land (where they again lost to the Niners) in Collinsworth’s final season in 1988. In between, he picked up three more 1000-yard seasons and three Pro Bowl selections.

Collinsworth has spent most of the last three decades in the broadcast booth, visibility that helps keep his rookie card in the $10 range for PSA 9 copies.

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1982 Topps Terry Bradshaw (#204)

1982 Topps Terry  Bradshaw

Bradshaw had just a couple of partial seasons ahead of him when this card was issued, but there was plenty of glory behind him.

Those four Super Bowls and his status as a Pittsburgh Steelers legend — not to mention a future on TV — would ensure that Terry remained in our consciousness basically forever.

This late-career card comes in around $10 in PSA 9 condition.

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1982 Topps Bears TL (Payton) (#292)

1982 Topps Bears TL (Payton)

Payton may have had a rough go of it in 1982, but 1981 had been a typical Hall of Fame season for the Bears great — his 1222 rushing yards easily led the team.

As was their wont, Topps made sure to squeeze as much Sweetness as possible into their 1982 set, and this Bears team leader card is about a $10 item in PSA 9.

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1982 Topps Joe Montana IA (#489)

1982 Topps Joe  Montana IA

Ditto for Montana.

He may not have fully baked his legend yet, but given his heroic in the 1981 postseason and his Notre Dame pedigree, Montana was already plenty popular enough in 1982 to warrant an extra card or two.

This “In Action” number pushes $10 in PSA 9.

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1982 Topps Walter/Eddie Payton (#269)

1982 Topps Walter _ Eddie  Payton

Eddie Payton obviously didn’t make the kind of splash his brother did in the NFL, but he did spend five seasons in The League as a kick and punt returner.

He also provided a cool opportunity to sneak in yet another Walter card in 1982.

This one brings in around $7 in PSA 9 condition.

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1982 Topps Dan Fouts (#230)

1982 Topps Dan  Fouts

Fouts sort of paved the way, for better or worse, for Dan Marino.

As the chief field engineer for the famed Air Coryell defense, Fouts teamed with Kellen Winslow, Chuck Muncie, Wes Chandler, Charlie Joiner, and other offensive weapons to put up passing numbers like no one had ever seen before.

In the end, Fouts came up short when it came to rings, but he was an easy Hall of Fame pick in 1993.

This 1982 Topps card sells for $5+ in PSA 9.

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1982 Topps Tony Dorsett (#311)

1982 Topps Tony  Dorsett

Dorsett was in the midst of a Hall of Fame career that established him as a Dallas Cowboys legend when this card was issued.

With more than 16,000 all-purpose yards, Dorsett also finished as one of the greatest running backs to ever lace up his cleats — and he was a Heisman Trophy winner, to boot.

Always popular with collectors, Dorsett lines up here at around $5 in PSA 9 condition.

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1982 TOPPS FOOTBALL CARDS LOT OF 5 PITTSBURGH STEELERS 203 207 217 219 222 NRMT+

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Lot of (20) 1982 Topps football cards - EX, NR MT/MT - NIce , HOFers and Stars

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1982 topps football card #488 Joe Montana (nrmt0, see pics

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Complete Your 1982 TOPPS FOOTBALL SET EXMT/NRMT/MINT Pick 30 Point LOT

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