My Top 20 Favorite Detroit Lions
I've written a lot of columns and I thought I would try something nostalgic and to see if can actually create a slideshow.
So instead of ragging on Lion managment or speculationg on who they take in the draft or what free agents they may go after, I present my top 20 favorite Detroit Lions of all time.
#20 Tobin Rote
The last quarterback to lead the Lions to an NFL championship.
Played for 13 years in the NFL and was with the Lions from 1957 to 1959.
Replaced the injured Bobby Layne for the 1957 season and championship.
#19 Joe Schmidt
Played his entire 13 year career with the Lions. A 10 time Pro Bowler, Schmidt was a mainstay at middle linebacker and voted into the Hall of Fame in 1973.
Also coached the Lions for 5 years (1967 - 1972) but gave it up saying "Coaching isn't fun anymore."
Little known fact: When the Lions picked up Pat Swilling, Schmidt gave personally gave permission for Swilling to wear #56. Since then, no other Lion has worn that number.
#18 - Doak Walker
At 5'11" and 175 lbs., Doak Walker was voted four times as All-Pro and led the league in scoring in 1950 and again in 1955. He was on two Lion Championship teams and inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1986.
# 17 Herman Weaver
You have to love a punter with a nickname of Thunderfoot.
Played for 11 years in the NFL, with the Lions for seven and the Seattle Seahawks for four.
A career punting average of 40.3 yards and in 693 punts, had only 8 blocked.
#16 Wayne Walker
Started his career with the Lions in 1958 and ended it with them in 1972.
A solid, durable player, Walker was selected 3 times for the Pro Bowl.
Walker enjoyed a 20 year career as a broadcaster for the San Francisco 49r's.
#15 Eddie Murray
For the last 28 years, the one spot the Lions have had very little turn over was at place kicker. Steady Eddie Murray kicked for the Lions for 12 of those years until Jason Hanson came along.
In Murray's 19 year career, he had only one kicked blocked in 466 attempts.
But what many people remember is coach Monte Clark standing on the side lines in prayer during the 1983 playoff game against the San Fransico 49ers. With five seconds left, Murray missed the 43 yard field goal.
#14 Al "Bubba" Baker
One of the better defensive ends the Lions had.
Played with the Lions from 1978 to 1982. His final year with the Lions, he recorded 8.5 sacks.
#13 Greg Landry
The only Lions quarterback ever to go to the Pro-Bowl (1971), Landry was with the Lions from 1968 to 1978 often competing with Bill Muncey for playing time.
In addition to his Pro Bowl selection, Landry was also name the comeback player of the year in 1976.
Landry enjoyed better success as a coach and won six division championships while with the Bear as offensive coordinator from 1988 to 1992. He came back to the Lions in 1995 to tutor Scott Mitchell to a record setting season.
#12 Dick "Night Train" Lane
Legend has it that Lane was found by a woman in a dumspter in Austin, TX.
Lane was a walk on with the Los Angles Rams in 1952 orginally as an end but was switched to defensive back.
He played with the Lions from 1960 to 1965 and retired with 68 career interceptions and 1,207 return yards.
#11 Eric Hipple
Most famous for his starting debut on Monday Night Football where he threw for 336 yards and four TD's.
A gutsy and gritty player, always willing to do anything to get the extra yard.
# 10 Jason Hanson
The only active player I have on this list.
He's been a mainstay ever since taking over for Eddie Murray in 1992.
Think there is any sign of him slowing down at age 38? Don't think so. He has the most field goals of 50 yards or more (41) and tied Morten Anderson last year with the most 50 yard + field goals in a season with eight.
Lions signed him to a four-year contract so they must think he has a lot left in that powerful right leg.
# 9 Steve Owens
Steve Owens was the first Detroit Lions running back to gain 1,000 yards in a season.
As a fullback in 1971, he rumbled for 1,035 yards in a 14 game season. However, he never gained any more than 519 yards and was out of football by 1974.
Still, I have him ranked this high because of that one special season...and just look at the expression on his face...now that's a football player!
#8 Billy Sims
Who knows what numbers Billy Sims would have put up if he hadn't injured his knee in 1984.
5,106 yards, 4.5 yards per carry and 81 rushing touchdowns along with 2,072 yards receiving, 11.1 avg and 5 TD receptions, Billy Sims could be considred the first multi-purpose threat.
An image that burns in my mind his one of him leaping over a Houston player to gain an extra five yards.
His career was short but explosive.
#7 Alex Karras
Yes, Alex Karras actually had a football career before Webster and playing Mungo in Blazing Saddles.
He played for 12 years with the Lions, from 1958 to 1970. He was suspended along with Green Bay Packer great Paul Hourning in 1963 for gambling.
Pete Rozelle reinstated both players the following year. Alway a guy with a quick wit, when he was instructed to call a coin toss, he told the offical "I'm sorry sir, I'm not allowed to gamble."
# 6 Bobby Layne
The hard drinkin' and hard partyin' Bobby Layne was the Golden Boy of the Lions from 1950 to 1958, leading them to 3 NFL Championships.
Doak Walker once said of Layne "He never lost a game, he just ran out of time."
Sports Illustrated honored him in 1995 calling him "The Toughest Quarterback Whoever Lived."
# 5 Chris Spielman
Want to know the definition of tough? Look it up and you'll find Chris Spielman.
He was a throwback player who I think would have played the game for free.
An outstanding and durable linebacker, he had a nose for where the play was.
#4 Charlie Sanders
One of the toughest tight-ends ever to play the game.
His battles with Chicago Bears Dick Butkus were legendary.
In his 10 seasons, he caught 336 passes for 4,817 yards and 31 TD's in an offense that used the TE for blocking more than receiving.
Long-overdue, he was finally inducted to the Hall of Fame in 2008.
#3 Barry Sanders
I'm sure everyone thought Barry was going to be number 1.
Maybe he should be but how he left the Lions still rankles some people. I understand why he left...doesn't mean I have to like it.
From 1989 to 1999, there was no better running back in the NFL. In 10 years, he gained 15,269 yards, averaged an outstanding 5.0 yards per carry and scored 109 TD's, with 99 of them rushing touchdowns.
A lock for the Hall of Fame, Barry was a first time inductee in 2004.
# 2 Herman Moore
Big, strong and fast, Herman Moore was one of the most unheralded wide receivers. But that is the curse of being on the Detroit Lions.
He was the second player, after Jerry Rice, to record 3 straight 100-catch seasons.
In 1995, he and Brett Perriman became the first WR duo to have 100-catches in a single year.
A class act and a great blocker downfield, he sprang Barry Sanders on some of his most memorable runs.
# 1 Lem Barney
The orginal #20, Lem Barney was one of the best cornerbacks to ever play the game.
His rookie season, 1967, Barney intercepted 10 passes, returning 3 of them for touchdowns.
For his 11 year career, 56 interceptions, 1,077 return yards and 7 TD's