Detroit Lions: 15 greatest draft-day steals of all-time
By John Buhler
Eddie Murray, for younger fans, was Jason Hanson before Jason Hanson. Drafted No. 166 overall in the seventh round of the 1980 NFL Draft out of Tulane University, Murray was the Lions’ all-time leading scorer when he was waived by Detroit in April 1992.
This move was done to make room for Detroit’s second-round draft choice that year in Hanson. Hanson has a claim to be on this all-time list, but taking a kicker in the second round, regardless of how excellent Hanson was, isn’t exactly a selection of great value. Regardless, landing Murray in the seventh round in 1980 classifies as a draft-day steal.
Right away, Murray made a huge impact for the Lions as a rookie. He would be named to his first of two career Pro Bowls, as well as be named to his only First-Team All-Pro squad of his career. That season saw Murray make 64.3 percent of his field goals (27-of-42) and 97.2 percent of his point-after tries (35-of-36). He led the league with 116 points in his breakout rookie season.
After his phenomenal rookie season, Murray would make three Second-Team All-Pro squads in 1981, 1982 and 1989. In 1981, he scored 121 points on 25-of-35 field goals and a perfect 46-of-46 extra points. The Lions made the NFC playoffs in back-to-back seasons in 1982 and 1983 with Murray firmly in his prime.
After a few down years as a franchise, Murray would make his second and final career trip to the Pro Bowl in 1989. He made 20-of-21 field goals and all 36 point-after attempts for 96 points. In Murray’s last year with the Lions, Detroit made it all the way to the NFC Championship. Though he wasn’t a Pro Bowler, he accumulated 97 points in his final Lions season, bringing his career points as a Lion to an impressive 1,113.
Naturally, Murray’s career point totals in Detroit would be surpassed by Hanson over time. However, Murray remains a popular player in Detroit decades after having last donned the Honolulu blue and silver. He spent his first 12 NFL seasons with the Lions before bouncing around the league for the rest of the 20th century.
In total, Murray would play for seven NFL franchises before retiring after the 2000 NFL season. This includes being the placekicker for the 1993 Dallas Cowboys, who defeated the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXVIII.
After leaving Detroit, Murray never spent more than a season in one place. Although, he did spend a combined two years with the Cowboys and the Washington Redskins. Murray also briefly played with the Kansas City Chiefs, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Philadelphia Eagles and the Minnesota Vikings. Murray finished with 1,594 career points with most of them coming as a member of the Lions.