Dick Butkus Football Cards: The Ultimate Collector’s Guide

Most Valuable Dick Butkus Football Cards

Because he practically redefined the middle linebacker position and left a legacy as one of the most feared players in history, Dick Butkus football cards are some of the most iconic of the vintage era.

Beginning with his 1966 Philadelphia rookie card, Butkus frequently appears as a key to any set in which he appeared.

In this guide, I'll cover his mainstream cards and a few of his oddball issues that can be fun to collect as well.

Let's jump right in!

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Mainstream Dick Butkus Cards

Most collectors will be familiar with his Philadelphia and Topps cards but I'd also like to mention a few of my favorite oddball Butkus cards later on.

First, let's take a look at his mainstream cards:

1966 Philadelphia #31 Dick Butkus Rookie Card

Estimated PSA 8 Value: $1,350

Estimated PSA 5 Value: $125

Beginning in 1964, the NFL awarded the Philadelphia Gum Company the exclusive rights to produce football cards of its players from 1964 to 1967.

Meanwhile, Topps was busy producing cards for the AFL.

Considered by many to be among the most beautiful football card sets ever made, the 1966 Philadelphia set is loaded with Hall of Famers in its 198-card checklist.

Among the keys to the set are the rookie cards of Chicago Bears teammates Gale Sayers and Dick Butkus.

During his rookie campaign in 1965, Butkus set career bests in interceptions (5) and fumble recoveries (7) on his way to be named to his first of eight consecutive Pro Bowls.

This is one of the most desirable of all vintage football cards in the hobby.

1966 Philadelphia #31 Dick Butkus Rookie Card

1967 Philadelphia #28

Estimated PSA 8 Value: $250

Estimated PSA 5 Value: $25

In its final year producing football cards, Philadelphia chose to abandon the white borders of its previous three sets in exchange for yellow borders.

Those yellow borders may look sharp but they can easily show wear and tear which makes it difficult to find this card in high grade.

A young Butkus squints in the sunlight on a bright sunny day looking like someone you'd definitely not want to run into on the field.

The rookie card of Hall of Famer, Leroy Kelly, is the most valuable in the set but Butkus is easily in the top five.

1967 Philadelphia #28 Dick Butkus Football Card

1968 Topps #127

Estimated PSA 8 Value: $85

Estimated PSA 5 Value: $15

Now that Topps had solidified its position as the sole producer of both AFL and NFL football cards, this would be the first time that the legendary linebacker appeared on a Topps card.

With an expanded checklist that included 219 cards, the company printed the set in two series.

Part of the first series (#1-131), Butkus again finds himself as one of the keys to a set loaded with stars.

Butkus poses in a defensive stance while the intimidating Bear logo rests near him in the upper-right corner giving the card some extra pop.

1968 Topps #127 Dick Butkus Football Card

1969 Topps #139

Estimated PSA 8 Value: $110

Estimated PSA 5 Value: $15

Headlined by rookie cards of Hall of Famer, Larry Csonka, and Chicago Bears icon, Brian Piccolo, the 1969 Topps set is famous for its richly colored backgrounds.

The green background upon which Butkus is superimposed is no exception as it really makes him stand out.

At first sight, the image looks exactly like the one Topps used on his card from the year before but if you look closely, you can spot a few subtle differences:

  • the facial expression, especially his mouth, are slightly different
  • the spacing between his chin and his jersey number
  • the spacing between his left hand and his jersey number

It was the same pose, just from slightly different angles.

1969 Topps #139 Dick Butkus Football Card

1970 Topps #190

Estimated PSA 8 Value: $45

Estimated PSA 5 Value: $10

The 1970 Topps set design is instantly recognizable with its oval-shaped player images that rest atop those famous tan backgrounds.

The green pennant along the bottom that house his name and Bears team affiliation along with the football image in the lower-right act as perfect compliments to this great-looking card.

While the O.J. Simpson rookie card may be the most valuable in the set, Butkus is one of the key players in the checklist and is valued around $45 in PSA 8 condition.

1970 Topps #190 Dick Butkus Football Card

1971 Topps #25

Estimated PSA 8 Value: $65

Estimated PSA 5 Value: $10

With another colorful set design that marked a clear sign of the times, Topps produced this eye-popping set in 1971 that featured multi-colored borders.

The blue and red border on this card is an interesting combination and when mixed with the yellow lettering of his name across the top, they provide fantastic eye appeal.

However, they definitely present a challenge in finding this card free of showing nicks and dings along the edges and corners.

The cartoonish image of a grizzly, aggressive football player in the lower-left adds a great touch in perfectly characterizing Butkus' reputation as a beast on defense.

While it's one of the top ten most important cards in the set, it is dwarfed in value by the rookie cards of Pittsburgh Steelers legends Terry Bradshaw and Joe Greene, who once reportedly spit in Butkus' face.

1971 Topps #25 Dick Butkus Football Card

1972 Topps #170

Estimated PSA 8 Value: $30

Estimated PSA 5 Value: $5

For its 1972 Topps set, the company made one of the more interesting design choices by releasing cards with both vertical and horizontal layouts.

They also produced this set in three series, the only time they ever did so, adding another bit of nice trivia to the set.

What stands out most about this set is the stunning number of Hall of Fame rookies within the checklist with 9 in total.

Roger Staubach, John Riggins, Ted Hendricks, Gene Upshaw, Rayfield Wright, Larry Little, Charlie Joyner, Emmitt Thomas, and Ron Yarry all make their rookie card debuts.

With its horizontal layout, Butkus' card is still considered an important card in the set but not one of the keys because of all those rookies.

The 1972 season would be his last full season in the NFL and marked his last of 8 consecutive Pro Bowl appearances.

1972 Topps #170 Dick Butkus Football Card

1973 Topps #300

Estimated PSA 8 Value: $20

Estimated PSA 5 Value: $3

This is one of my favorite Butkus cards as it's the only one that captures him in action as we see him blowing through blockers and fighting ferociously for a chance to make a tackle.

Because of a nagging knee injury, his 1973 season was cut short as he'd appear in only 9 games.

He did, however,  record the only touchdown of his career as he recovered a fumble in the end zone during a game against the Oilers.

This is one of his cheapest cards to own in a set headlined by the rookie cards of Franco Harris, Ken Stabler, and Jack Ham among others.

1973 Topps #300 Dick Butkus Football Card

1974 Topps #230

Estimated PSA 8 Value: $20

Estimated PSA 5 Value: $3

While he never actually played in 1974, Topps did include Butkus in its checklist that year.

A large image of Butkus dominates the front and is contained by the uprights of a yellow field goal graphic.

Though he doesn't have the most intimidating look on his face, this card does a great job of capturing the sheer size of the Chicago Bears icon.

1974 Topps #230 Dick Butkus Football Card

My Favorite Oddball Dick Butkus Cards

The following are some of his lesser-known issues that can still be quite fun to collect.

1969 Topps Four In One #21

Estimated PSA 8 Value: $30

These smaller cards were meant to be removed and pasted individually in an album that accompanied the set.

1969 Topps Four In One #21 Dick Butkus Football Card

1971 Bears Team Issue

Estimated PSA 8 Value: $30

Many sports teams commemorated their players during the vintage era by releasing team issue cards that were basically full black and white photos of each player.

With 12 cards in the set, Dick Butkus and Gale Sayers are the clear keys to own.

1971 Chicago Bears Team Issue Dick Butkus Football Card

1970 Kellogg's #10

Estimated PSA 8 Value: $20

While Kellogg's produced baseball cards every year during the 1970s, the company only released football card sets in 1970 and 1971 and a sticker set in 1978.

The cards were notorious for their front sides that had a 3-D effect to them.

1970 Kellogg's #10 Dick Butkus Football Card

1971 Kellogg's #39

Estimated PSA 8 Value: $40

The 1971 Kellogg's card appeared much brighter in coloration with its sky blue border and is my favorite of the two.

It's also the more valuable as it can be worth almost twice as much in a PSA 8 holder.

1971 Kellogg's #39 Dick Butkus Football Card

1972 NFLPA Iron Ons

Estimated PSA 8 Value: $5

These cards were printed on fabric that collectors could then iron on to other surfaces should they wish to do so.

The set contains 35 cards in total and is headlined by multiple Hall of Famers such as Butkus, Roger Staubach, Terry Bradshaw, Johnn Unitas and Gale Sayers, among others.

1972 NLFPA Iron Ons Dick Butkus Football Cards

Dick Butkus Football Cards Wrap-up

Dick Butkus goes down in history as one of the most ferocious and intimidating players who ever stepped onto the gridiron.

Over his 9-year career with the Chicago Bears, Butkus shaped the middle linebacker position into what it is today and set a standard for other middle linebackers to uphold.

An 8-time Pro Bowler and 5-time All-Pro, Butkus was elected to the Pro Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 1979.

His legacy and status as a Chicago Bears legend will keep his cards in high demand for years to come. 

Ross Uitts
 

Ross is the founder of Old Sports Cards and has been collecting sports cards for over 30 years. He also loves to write about the hobby and has written for Beckett, Topps, SABR and of course, this website. Need help buying or selling cards or have a general question about the hobby? Contact him at [email protected]

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