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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Detroit Lions
5 Nov 2000: Mandatory Credit: Tom Pidgeon /Allsport /

30. player. 50. . Defensive Tackle. (1987-1992). Jerry Ball

From the very beginning of his tenure as a Lion, Jerry Ball provided his team with a stout defensive presence at the nose tackle position for six seasons until he took his talents over to the Cleveland Browns. After Cleveland, Ball also spent time with the Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders and the Minnesota Vikings.

Ball may have played ball with four different organizations, but he is on this list primarily because he enjoyed his best career statistics in Detroit. Drafted by the Lions out of Southern Methodist University (SMU) in the third round of the 1987 NFL Draft, Ball immediately established himself as a plug-and-play starter along the Lions’ defensive front.

Throughout his career in the Motor City, Ball amassed 306 total tackles, 18.5 sacks, six fumble recoveries, one safety and one fumble recovery that was returned for a touchdown. A force to be reckoned with on the defensive line, he was the type of player whose presence always had to be accounted for by opposing offenses.

If he was left unchecked, Ball was known to wreck game plans. It was a seldom occurrence for a single offensive lineman to be capable of blocking him one-on-one.

Ball was selected to the Pro Bowl for three consecutive seasons beginning in 1989. In 1991, he was also voted as a first-team All-Pro player. For the totality of Ball’s 13-year NFL career, he was viewed as an exceptional leader both on and off of the field who consistently demanded the respect of his fellow teammates.

As this list continues, you’ll see that Ball wasn’t the only former Pro Bowl stalwart at defensive tackle to bolt away from the Lions prior to the age of 30…