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1965 Topps Football Set

1965 Topps #122 Joe Namath RookieThe Tall Boys

The 1965 Topps Football set is one of the most classic and most beloved Topps sets of all time across all sports.

Frequently referred to as "Tall Boys," the cards in this oversized issue measure 2 1/2" by 4 11/16".

1965 was the only year in which Topps used this particular format for football cards. They did, however, use the same format for 1966 Hockey and for 1969 and 1970 Basketball.

1965 Topps Football includes one the most recognizable football cards in the hobby, the rookie card of legendary Jets quarterback, Joe Namath. This card consistently ranks on or near the top of collector wish lists.

Only players from the American Football League (AFL) are featured in this set, as the Philadelphia Chewing Gum Corporation owned the rights to the National Football League (NFL) at the time.


The fronts of the cards boast an enormous image area and a color player photo on a bright, solid-colored background that's either red, green, yellow, blue or pink. The team's city appears within the image above the player while the player's name and position appear in a banner along the bottom beneath the picture. A white border surrounds the entirety of the card.

The reverse of the card is divided into a left and a right side. The right side features a cartoon about the player. The left side starts with a black header box that includes the card number within a football, the player's name, position and city/team. Beneath is another box that begins with two lines of vital stats and is followed by a brief biography and for players with statistics, a year and lifetime statistics box.

The set is numbered in order so that each team is grouped together on the checklist -- arranged alphabetically by city name and then alphabetically by the players' last names. There are also two numbered checklist cards in the set (cards #87 and #176).

The Keys

In addition to the Joe Namath rookie card, two other Hall of Fame players have their rookie card in the set: Willie Brown and Fred Biletnikoff. Other rookies appearing in the set are Pete Gogolak (the first "soccer-style" kicker in pro football), Winston Hill, John Huarte, and Ben Davidson.

In addition to Namath, Brown and Biletnikoff, the set also featured the following Hall of Famers: Nick Buoniconti, George Blanda, Bobby Bell, Buck Buchanan, Len Dawson, Don Maynard, Jim Otto, Lance Alworth and Ron Mix.

Printing and Distribution

One of the most puzzling things about the 1965 Topps Football card set is the way in which the cards were laid out on the printing sheets. With a total of 176 total cards in the set and having seen sheets that featured 9 rows of 11 cards on the "half sheet," it is hard to understand the logic in the printing process that basically produced 44 double printed cards and 132 short printed cards. It's obvious that Topps used a pattern that used more than a standard sheet layout combination.

1965 Topps Football Box with Unopened Packs

Cards retailed in the traditional five-cent wax packs as well as cellos. In addition to the cards and gum, each pack contained a "Magic Rub-Off" insert that were quite delicate in design and also are relatively scarce. The sticker set consists of 36 total stickers divided between the eight AFL teams represented in the Topps set as well as an additional 28 college teams.

Condition Issues

As of January 2019, more than 28,750 cards from 1965 Topps Football Set have been graded by PSA.

Out of all of those, only 13 cards have received a perfect PSA 10 GEM MINT grade. Why so few?

Part of it has to do with centering.

Because they are extra tall, there's more edge distance to allow for a slight tilt in the cutting process to become more pronounced and more noticeable, especially given the narrow nature of the border. The larger, unique size of the cards also makes them more susceptible to damage from wear and tear as they were more difficult to store with other standard sized cards.

This makes finding well-centered cards a really tough challenge. Finding cards that are well centered and in mint condition is incredibly difficult.

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Thanks for reading. Here's a more general resource you may enjoy: How to Sell Baseball Cards.

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