History looks kindly upon the Patriots of the aughts, the Cowboys of the nineties, the 49ers of the eighties, the Steelers of the seventies and the Green Bay Packers of the sixties. Go back one more decade and the team that defined the fifties might be the Detroit Lions (the Cleveland Browns might give them a run for their money). It may be hard to imagine now, but the Lions ended the 1950s with three NFL championships and another championship game appearance. One of the most important pieces of those teams was quarterback Bobby Layne. Dave Diles wrote these words for the Associated Press following Layne’s departure:
The swashbuckling Layne – never a great passer, never a great runner but always a peerless leader and clutch performer – is given as much credit as anybody for bringing championship football to Detroit.
Legend has it that Bobby Layne declared that the Lions would not win for 50 years as punishment for the mistake of his trade. Whether you believe the curse or not, there is no denying that the Lions haven’t been the same since Bobby Layne departed. Lions fans now hope that Matthew Stafford, a graduate of the same high school Layne attended in Dallas, can fill the franchise quarterback role the organization has sought for decades.