Detroit Lions: 30 greatest players in franchise history

Detroit Lions. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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10. player. 50. . Quarterback. (1950-1958). Bobby Layne

The most famous/infamous quarterback in franchise history is best known by modern Lion fans as the alleged purveyor of Detroit’s notorious 50-year curse that woefully spanned from 1958-2008.

However, during his prime, Bobby Layne led the franchise to its greatest NFL successes in the form of three league championships (1952-1953, 1957). By today’s standards, Layne’s passing numbers don’t really speak glowingly toward his career as an NFL pro.

For nine seasons in Detroit, Layne completed less than 50 percent of his pass attempts with 118 touchdowns against 142 interceptions. But with Layne’s uniqueness, those numbers, while typical quantifiers of a quarterback’s success, do not paint the full picture of just how important Layne was to his team.

A field general in every sense of the word, Layne was able to lead his teammates in a manner that quite frankly, no other signal caller could. Despite his very well-known penchant for living and enjoying his life to its fullest extent off the field, on the field, he amassed a 53-29-2 record in Detroit as a starter. His play was such that it helped achieve the franchise’s three aforementioned NFL championships.

The native Texan played his high school football in Highland Park (alongside running back Doak Walker) and he was a Longhorn collegiately at the University of Texas. I don’t think there will be another NFL signal caller cast from the same mold as Layne that will enjoy the same levels of success. Former Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel seemed as if he was cut from a similar cloth, but he never got his professional career going in the right direction.

Layne’s nightlife reputation was well warranted, but some stories ring truer than others. What remains indisputable though is Layne’s will to win. Of Layne, Walker famously said: “Bobby never lost a game. Some days, time just ran out on him.”

For me, that quote epitomizes perfectly Bobby’s playing mentality, losing was never an option for him.