When we look back on the proud history of the Lions, their glory years were like that of the City of Detroit: in the 1950s. Three of the Lions’ four NFL championships came in that fruitful decade. One of the best first-round picks Detroit made in that decade was two-time All-American tight end Leon Hart.
Detroit selected the Notre Dame Fighting Irish standout No. 1 overall in the 1950 NFL Draft. This came after Hart’s third national championship in four years at South Bend. He would be a part of all three NFL championship teams in the 1950s for the Lions, as he would spend his entire eight-year NFL career with the team that drafted him No. 1 overall.
Hart was an All-Pro in his second season in the league in 1951. That year, he set career highs in receptions (35), yardage (544) and touchdowns (12). He would also make his only trip to the Pro Bowl that NFL season. Too bad Hart played in an era before the modern passing game. Otherwise, he might have been a hall of fame level player at tight end.
Overall, Hart retired after the 1957 NFL season with 174 catches for 2,499 yards and 26 touchdowns. He would briefly play fullback, where he would rush for a career 612 yards on 134 carries for five touchdowns. Hart is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame for his brilliance while playing for the Golden Domers over in South Bend.