Detroit Lions: 30 greatest players in franchise history

Detroit Lions. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Detroit Lions. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /
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Chris Spielman, Detroit Lions
2 Oct 1994:  Mandatory Credit: Rick Stewart /Allsport /

Chris Spielman. 12. player. 50. . Linebacker. (1988-1995)

For the younger generations, they may only recognize Chris Spielman as a great game analyst for FOX. But for many of us, we remember Spielman as Detroit’s relentless linebacker and defensive leader from the late 1980s to mid 1990s. His era of Detroit football stands out as one of the Lions’ last vestiges of relevance and competition.

The former most valuable player of Ohio State Buckeye football is Detroit’s all-time leading tackler with 1,138 opponent takedowns as a Lion. 1,020 of his tackles were solo, meaning that Spielman rarely needed any help in ending a ball carrier’s forward progression. He was also capable of getting to the opposing team’s quarterback, as he totaled 10.5 sacks in nearly a decade’s worth of games in Motown.

The tenacious linebacker started every single game that he played in his career (124 as a Lion), which is a feat that is more than impressive once you take a moment to consider the extremely physical nature of his position as a middle linebacker.

Spielman was voted to four Pro Bowls and he enjoyed his only season as a first-team All-Pro in 1991. 1994 also served as another standout year for him, as he accomplished a career high 195 tackles, which is also a Lions franchise single season record.

For every season that he finished in Detroit, Spielman had well over 100+ tackles, as he cemented his status as a legitimate tackling machine.

Off the field, Chris and his first wife Stefanie were ardent in their efforts towards breast cancer research. It was an illness that she battled often and it ultimately claimed her life in 2009. Undaunted though, Chris continues his endeavors in breast cancer research and awareness through a fund which is named in honor of his late wife.