In the 1970s Topps football sets were 528 cards. The sets usually contained over 50 cards of offensive lineman. In the 1980s the Topps sets were reduced from 528 to 396. The sets still contained around 30 or 40 cards of offensive lineman. With the advent of the 1990s, the demographics of Topps football sets changed where by 1996 not one veteran offensive lineman was included except for a couple of high draft picks.
Since the mid 1990s, outside of a few high draft pick cards Topps rarely had more than 2 or 3 veteran offensive lineman in there sets. The 2 or 3 veteran offensive lineman who got cards were usually great player (an all pro or pro bowl player). Though for example, a player like Alan Faneca, an 8 time pro bowl player never had a Topps football card.
This of course brings us to the 2003 Topps football set. Ross Tucker (who later did some work a few years ago for Comcast sports and is now a host of Football Today on ESPN podcast) got a football card in the 2003 set. There were approx. 150 starting offensive lineman in the NFL in 2002 (including about 5 all pros and 15 probowlers) and none of them I believe got a 2003 Topps football card. Ross got a card after being cut by the Redskins and then being picked up by the Cowboys in October of 2002. On the back of the card it states he replaced all-time great Larry Allen (who never received a Regular Topps Cards) for the final seven games.
Ross originally played late in the 2001 seasons. This was Ross's rookie card.
My guess is that a Topps employee with some pull (probably a Princeton grad, about the same age as Ross and lived in the same area and who knew Ross) put him in their regular set.
I have listened to his podcast on occasion but I don't know if he ever addressed his 2 appearances (Yes, he also appears in the 2004 Topps set) in Topps Football sets. Does anyone out there know or have a theory.