The Detroit Lions franchise five
CBS Sports ventured down the difficult road of deciding who were the most influential players in each NFL team’s history boiling it down to five spots represented by one head coach, one quarterback, and three players of any position. Each teams finalists became their franchise five.
The Detroit Lions franchise five were presented by CBS Sports NFL writer John Breech. His selections were first, former head coach Buddy Parker who led Lions to three NFL title games, winning two of them in 1952 and 1953. The Lions team that won the 1957 title was coached by George Wilson but had been assembled by Parker.
At quarterback, Breech chose Hall of Fame passer Bobby Layne. The criteria here was simply championships. Layne was a great passer and feared competitor, but his numbers pale in comparison to Detroit’s current great Matthew Stafford, except for championships.
Layne was the fire and backbone behind four drives to the championship game in the 1950s. He only played in three of them since injury left him watching on the sideline as Tobin Rote engineered the Lions final championship in 1957, but had two wins and one loss in title play.
The final three players representing the Lions franchise five were Hall of fame linebacker Joe Schmidt, Hall of Fame runner Barry Sanders and soon to be Hall of Fame receiver Calvin Johnson.
Schmidt joined the Lions in 1953 and was part of Detroit’s last two championship teams. Schmidt was considered one of the best middle linebackers in NFL history and was recently named to the NFL’s 100-year team.
We all know Barry Sanders as one of the most elusive and electric runners ever, and Calvin Johnson despite only playing nine seasons, is the Lions’ standard-bearer for receivers.
All of them are worthy choices to represent the Detroit Lions as their franchise five, there is no questioning that, and the truth of the matter is that these five can compare to any other franchise five in the NFL.
But the question remains; did John Breech get the Lions franchise five right?