Detroit Lions: 30 greatest players in franchise history

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50. . Safety, Return Specialist. (1951-1958). Jack Christiansen. 16. player

The first Pro Football Hall of Famer to make this list, Jack Christiansen may not have been a Lion for as long as some of the other players on this list, but he sure packed plenty of accomplishments into his eight year professional career as a player.

Each year from 1952 to 1957, Christiansen was chosen as a Pro Bowler and first-team All-Pro. He was an instrumental cog for the Lions’ championship winning teams in 1952, 1953, and 1957.

Christiansen was especially instrumental to the latter two championship teams in 1953 and 1957. In those two seasons respectively, he had 12 and 10 interceptions, both of which were good enough to lead the Lions and the NFL in that category for those years.

For the three seasons sandwiched between 1953 and 1957, Christiansen had 19 total interceptions as het set himself up as a bona fide turnover machine for his era. He finished his career with 46 interceptions in all.

In addition to his difference making presence on the defensive side of the ball, Christiansen also experienced a level of success as a punt returner for the Lions. With 85 game punts fielded, he totaled over 1,000 cumulative punt return yards with his longest one being taken back for 89 yards. Christiansen averaged nearly 13 yards per return, also tacking on eight punt return touchdowns.

After his playing days were over, the Colorado A&M (now known as Colorado State University) alum went on to be an NFL head coach with the San Francisco 49ers from 1963 to 1967. He was also a head coach with Stanford at the collegiate level from 1972 to 1976.

After his time coaching in the college ranks had come to an end, he returned to the NFL as a position coach with the Kansas City Chiefs, the Seattle Seahawks the and Atlanta Falcons.

Prior to his death in 1986, Christiansen was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame with the Class of 1970.