There have been plenty of linebackers who have put on the Lions uniform and dominated on the field, but there was something special about Stephen Tulloch. From the moment he came over to the Lions, he became a leader on and off the field. He etched his name in the history of the franchise in five seasons.
Tulloch began his run with the Lions during the 2011 NFL season, when he signed a one-year deal with the team as a free agent. However, the team would sign him to a longer deal the following offseason, thanks to his ability to flat out tackle and lead the defense, essentially becoming a coach on the field.
In his five seasons with the team, Tulloch went over 100 tackles four times. When he was healthy, he was one of the best middle linebackers in all of football. A fourth-round pick of the Tennessee Titans out of North Carolina State, Tulloch never went to a Pro Bowl, nor was an All-Pro for the Lions. That being said, his value went well beyond the awards.
Had Tulloch not tore his ACL celebrating his sack of Aaron Rodgers early in the 2014 campaign, he would have added a fifth 100-tackle season to his résumé. Tulloch was incredibly durable during his time in Detroit outside of that injury, starting all 16 games in his other four seasons, as he was a constant on some bad Lions teams.
Tulloch’s reach extended beyond the playing field as well, as he was a crucial member of the Detroit community over his five years with the team. He played one more season with the Philadelphia Eagles before retiring in 2016, but his time in Detroit was by far his best football of his career.