Cory Schlesinger fell only just shy of making the top-30 but, in my eyes, I felt that he still deserved a spot on the list as an honorable mention…
Severely underrated and often overlooked during his time in the NFL, Schlesinger always carried with him that blue-collar, “hard hat” mentality each time he took the field for the Lions.
As a direct result of his impeccable work ethic, he managed to turn himself from a sixth-round draft pick to a Motown backfield fixture, as he plowed through opposing defenders in order to open up running lanes for Barry Sanders and others.
The intensity that he played the game with is the stuff of legend as it has been estimated that Schlesinger broke over 200 of his own facemasks as a result of violently meeting would-be tacklers head-on.
Even though the former Nebraska Cornhusker never earned NFL All-Pro honors and he was never voted to a Pro Bowl, Schlesinger’s contributions to each game that he played couldn’t always be quantified solely by traditional statistics.
Just with his mere presence alone, he surely made defensive players think twice before they ventured into the backfield to try to tackle a Lion ball carrier.
Schlesinger was the type of player that any coach worth their mettle would take on their team in an instant. It is also a great testament to his career that he was able to play in more games (181) and more seasons (12) than the great Barry Sanders.
No, those stats aren’t meant as a slight to Sanders in any way whatsoever. It’s just an attempt to show how durable Schlesinger was as a player. He played in 11 or more games during each season of his career.
He was a career Lion who gave the city all of his toughness and grit for 12 years.