Since it worked so nice last time, let's go through Topps Football cards from the 1980's. The designs from the decade of excess are all over the place, from crushingly boring to "dear lord" gaudy. The one nice thing: very few ribbons.
Speaking of boring, wow. There is minimalist and then there is letting the intern designer mail it in. I believe this one falls in the later category. The worst part is, there is no rhyme nor reason to the colors of the borders. These make the 1989 Topps baseball offering look like Andy Warhol designed them.
Ah, much better. Simple, but effective, with jaunty angles and team logos in helmets punctuated by team color borders. I also like the integrated All Pro and Super Rookie designations. I was always a fan of the 1988 Topps football cards.
If the 70's were dominated by ribbons, the 80's seemed to be dominated by pennants. Here you have team color appropriate interlocking pennants. It's a good look. What isn't is the cropping on some of the photos, especially the action shots. What's going on with the Steve Young up there?
This design gets an A for effort, but a D for execution. The green borders with the yard lines seems like a good idea, but punctuated by team color borders for the photos, you get some horrifying color combinations. If they could combine the 1989 and 1986 designs, you might have something. These also seem to be prototypes for the 1988 Topps baseball set.
As a palette cleanser to the fronts, I like the backs of these with the cartoonish background for the write ups. This is something I wish Topps had done more of with their backs, to fill in the empty spaces.
I consider this a very 80's look. The big last name, the font, the black borders with a splash of color. All it needs is some neon. These black borders also echo the 1962 design - one of my all time favorites.
I really enjoy the vertical backs and long write ups on the backs of these. The red, on the other hand, make it very difficult to read. I have seen a lot of Pro Bowl and All Pro (and even all star) designations on the fronts of cards, but this is the only time I can recall where it is on the back and only on the back.
Bright colors, team logos, odd angles. These cards scream "MID EIGHTIES!" and they do it well. They foretell the coming of the 1985 Topps baseball set, as well, though it wouldn't be until 1991 when Topps would purposely use the same design elements for both baseball and football in the same year.
I never liked the white outlined team names on these, it looks like someone forgot to finish the design, unless they were trying to make the cards look like proofs, in which case, mission accomplished.
1982 Topps are the first set in a long time to include official NFL team logos on the card, and they highlighted the fact in fine fashion by putting the helmets right on the front. You also see the player name in a pennant (sort of like the team name in 1965 Topps). Plus, gosh, the All Pro designation on these cards is huge!
1982 In Action:
With those logo rights, and taking from the larger 1982 baseball set, Topps included "In Action" cards for the first time since 1972. All the big stars are included and at some point I had so many of them, I made a separate page of them.
Pennants? Flags? Ribbons? I was underwhelmed with this set when I was six years old and I am underwhelmed now. Check out the bald spot on Garo Yepremian there. Wow.
I always really liked the 1980 Topps football cards. I like the football logo, I like the font for the player names, I like the big photos. This perfectly shows the difference between minimalist and boring.
Plus, for whatever reason, I love the 1980 backs. Here, you can actually read on the red background. I like the continuation of the football from the fronts, and I like the teeny tiny cartoons. The only problem? The odd and small card numbers, which makes for troublesome collation.
So that covers the 1980's in Topps football cards. No other manufacturer made football cards through most of the decade. That would change when Score came in in 1989 and Fleer and Upper Deck followed suit in 1990. Those years make for some way overproduced and odd looking football cards, but for a time, Topps dominated the field even more so than they did baseball.