Topps RCs to Collect
The NFC North is more than just a division of fierce football competition; it’s a tapestry of cities, each teeming with rich traditions and legendary players. Chicago, defined by its commanding skyline and deep-dish pizzas, is home to Bears fans as relentless as the Lake Michigan winds. Green Bay, though quaint in size, houses the immense legacy of the Packers, where Cheeseheads treasure every rookie card that encapsulates Wisconsin’s dairy-clad dedication. Minneapolis, with its tranquil lakes and vibrant arts, radiates in purple and gold. Meanwhile, Detroit, the indomitable Motor City, has Lions enthusiasts who hunt for those rookie cards that mirror the city’s spirit of resurgence. As we delve deeper, this list aims to spotlight the most coveted rookie cards from legends of each NFC North team.
1976 Topps #148 Walter Payton RC
Given the Bears’ storied history, several names could’ve appeared on this list. But we chose Payton aka Sweetness, an electric ball carrier who retired as American pro football’s all-time leader in rushing (16,726) — Emmitt Smith has since broken his record. Throughout an illustrious career in The Windy City, the Jackson State product twisted defenders like a pretzel, breakin’ ankles and hearts of opposing fans while totaling 10 seasons with at least 1,000 rushing yards and leading Da Bears to a Super Bowl title in 1985. The nine-time Pro Bowl selection and Hall of Famer also built a reputation for his generosity off the field, which spawned the Walter Payton Man of the Year award, honoring players’ commitment to philanthropy and community impact.
1988 Topps #A1 Randy Moss RC Auto
While Adrian Peterson could’ve easily made this list due to his sheer prowess as a ball carrier, consider this: How many athletes can boast that their last name morphed into a widely-recognized catchphrase? Outside of “Moss’d,” it’s hard to find another instance in sports where a surname has epitomized sheer dominance on the field. A magician in aerial duels and one of the most elusive receivers to ever grace the gridiron, Moss torched secondaries, out-running and out-jumping his adversaries on his way to 15,292 receiving yards and 156 touchdown grabs — second in league history. Remember those days of playing “Jackpot,” running around trying to “Moss” the homies. Oh, sweet memories.
1989 Topps Traded #83T Barry Sanders RC
Sanders retired with a full tank left in the Ferrari. And yes, he was the Ferrari. The tailback with the V-12 engine might’ve bested Walter Payton’s record for most career rushing yards had he continued shaking defenders out of their cleats. However, he had already accomplished more than most when the Oklahoma State product decided to hang em’ up. The human jitterbug earned Pro Bowl honors and topped 1,000 rushing yards in each of his 10 seasons — the only tailback in league history to do so. He also set marks for most outings with at least 150 yards via ground (10), campaigns with at least 1,500 rushing yards (five), and is one of eight players to have topped 2,000 rushing yards in a season.
Green Bay Packers
2005 Bowman Chrome® #221 Aaron Rodgers /199 Auto RC
Rodgers indulges in several conspiracies and may or may not have seen a UFO once upon a time. But when discussing his career, we can keep it at straight facts. After sliding to the back half of the first round of the 2005 draft and waiting a few seasons behind Hall of Famer Brett Favre, football’s “A-Rod” took over the reins of the Packers franchise and built a legacy of his own, winning not one, not two, not three but four MVPs and a Super Bowl. Though he now flies with the Jets, despite a miserable injury to start the 2023 campaign, Rodgers already has his ticket to Canton punched. We can’t predict if New York will make the playoffs, but wouldn’t it be cool if he returned from an Achilles injury in the same season?
PS: A print run of 199 makes this well worth the chase. Happy hunting!
Baddest in the Game: NFC North
1966 Topps #31 Dick Butkus
Butkus wasn’t just any old linebacker. He was THE linebacker. Often heralded as the gold standard at his position, the Bears’ enforcer set a fearsome tone that legends like Mike Singletary, Ray Lewis, and Patrick Willis would follow. His list of accolades is as intimidating as his game: 8-time Pro Bowler, 2-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, and a memorable game in 1969 where he snagged three interceptions against the Redskins.
AFC North Legends RCs
Check Out Rookie Cards from AFC North Legends