I was scanning 1976 Topps football cards for the Gallery yesterday, and I came across this Dan Ryczek rookie card. What do you suppose he’s looking at? The scoreboard? The Blue Angels? A Ray Guy punt? Ryczek was a center, so I wondered if Topps mistakenly turned the image 90 degrees. But no, the players behind him are right side up. It’s just a bad photo, not the first one Topps put on a card.
1976 was Tampa Bay’s first season in the NFL, and Ryczek’s card got me looking at the rest of the 1976 Topps Buccaneers cards. I noticed a few interesting things:
- Eight of the ten Buccaneer player cards are rookie cards, though all of the players had been with other teams in years prior. The players all appear in their old teams’ jerseys, so I presume Topps had the photos on file.
- Four players–Ira Gordon, Harold Hart, Durwood Keeton, and Larry Ely–never played in a regular season game for Tampa Bay. John Ward played in just four games before going to the Bears. (See the career stats for Gordon, Hart, Keeton, Ely, and Ward at pro-football-reference.com.)
- The back of the Buccaneers team checklist has a list of the players they chose in the expansion draft, a nice feature.
For an entertaining read, check out the Wikipedia article on the 1976 Buccaneers–especially coach John McKay’s quotes.