Swingin' a Dead Cat: Bobby Layne Weighs In On The Detroit Lions

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Swingin' a Dead Cat:  Bobby Layne Weighs In On The Detroit Lions
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

ME:  "So Lions' fans, joining me today is hall of famer Bobby Layne.  Tell us, what have you been up to since your death in 1986?"

BOBBY:  "Ya'll seen Field of Dreams?"

ME:  "Sure."

BOBBY:  "That about sums 'er up."

ME:  "I see.  Well, you look pretty good...considering."

BOBBY:  "Thanks.  I try to watch what I eat." (smiles)

ME:  "Uh, yeah...so...most Lions' fans are too young to remember your playing days with Detroit.  Can you give us a little bio on your quarterbacking career?  Similarities with Stafford?"

BOBBY:  "Yeah, I reckon.  Like the Kid, I went to Highland Park High School in Dallas, got picked kinda' high...third overall by the Bears.  Went to Texas.  Pitched purty good for the Horns.  Had two no hitters.  And 'course quarterbacked them for bettern' 3000 yards.

ME:  "Best college game?"

BOBBY:  "Hmmm...s'pose thatta' been the...'46 Cotton Bowl.  Had a good day.  Scored all of our 40 points whuppin' up on Missouri.  Nice win.  Hated those clodhoppers."

ME:  "Every one?  Extra points too?"

BOBBY:  "Yup.  We did it all back then.  Not like today when you specialize and got scrawny kickers.  I kicked some.  We all did.  It wasn't anything to write home about." 

ME:  "So let's talk about the Lions and Matthew Stafford.  What's your take on the Kid?"

BOBBY:  "Wahl, lessee...he's a Texan with an Alamo Arm.  So that's a damn good start if ya' ask me.  Seen the Kid flip some balls at Georgia as good as I ever did, better mebbe.  He's strong.  Takes a good lick and gits up.  Damn smart too.  'Bout all you can want in a QB."

ME:  "So you're optimistic he can turn the Lions around?"

BOBBY:  "Hen don't cackle till she's laid the egg.  Let's see him produce first."

ME:  "Point taken.  Now you played with some hall of famers, like Doak Walker.  He said you never lost a game.  Time just ran out on you.  True?"

BOBBY:  "Helluva good player, Doaker.  We played in high school together.  He was sumptin' to watch.  I'd say I was more of a leader than an athlete, but yeah.  I didn't lose many.  Some.  I think we got three league championships in Detroit."

ME:  "So back to Stafford, any holes in his game?"

BOBBY:  "Hell, every player has holes in his game.  Me included.  I had about 27,000 yards and still had 250 picks.  Alex Karras had holes.  That Barry kid.  Doak.  None of us is Jesus.  Take my word for it." (smiles)

ME:  "You had a reputation too.  Known to be a bit wild off the field, did some nightclubbing with Karras and Mantle.  True?"

BOBBY:  "Yeah, we had some kinda' fun.  Cattin' around.  If I'd of known how long I was gonna' live I'd have taken better care of myself...and my money.  Mebbe' we had too much fun with "who hit John," but we always took the field sober.  Always."

ME:  "Mickey Mantle too?"

BOBBY:  "Seen his numbers?"

ME:  "Gotcha'.  So you do like the Kid then?"

BOBBY:  "Yup, I do.  He can sho' play.  Lotta' money though.  Things have sure changed since I strapped 'em on.  That kinda' jingle in your pocket can ruin a kid though, if he ain't settled good.  Like to think his folks will keep him grounded, not get all uppity and all.  He 'members why he's in Detroit, works like a mule, I think he'll bust some records, yeah."

ME:  "So the big question is the curse.  Did you put a curse on the Lions in '58 when they traded you?"

BOBBY:  "What a load 'a horse crap!  That's the main reason I come today.  You media fella's just dredge up stuff to fill a page.  Just 'cuz I piss on your leg, don't mean I got some voodoo eye, going to make 'er rain.  I was ticked, but that's it.  No one likes to get kicked to the curb, but I had some fun with the Steelers too.  Time to put that baby to bed.  I didn't curse nothing.  They just stink all on their own, but it starts with a good quarterback and I think they got him now.  Thought you was a smart fella'."

ME:  "I only look smart.  Well, thanks for dropping in...or coming up?"

BOBBY:  "Like I said, I seen Jesus."

ME:  "Last question.  Is He a Lions' fan?"

BOBBY:  "How'd they do the last 50 years?"

ME:  "Uh, right.  Thanks again for the time.  Maybe we can do a follow up in a year or so, after he gets some playing time, and see how the Kid did."

BOBBY:  "Believe me sonny, I got all the time in the world...and then some."

ME:  "Any parting thoughts?  Regrets?"

BOBBY:  "Sure would have liked ta' win a championship for Mr. Rooney."

ME:  "Believe me, Mr. Layne, the Steelers have done just fine without you."

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