Making a very tough change
It is a difficult task to eject any of those Lions greats from the franchise five and therefore to make any changes to John Breech’s franchise five, but… well, I would make one change. And it’s not what most people would expect.
I wholeheartedly agree with Buddy Parker. He is hands down the most successful coach the Lions have ever had winning more titles than any other coach in team history and having finished below second place only once in his six seasons at the helm.
I also think there is no way that Joe Schmidt could possibly be left off this list. He was a player that was not only athletic but as smart as they came and could have excelled in any era.
Then there is Barry Sanders. Perhaps the greatest Lion of them all despite never having an opportunity to win a championship. He was and always will be one of a kind and a treasure to the memory of all Lions fans everywhere.
Now let’s discuss Bobby Layne. We all know that Matthew Stafford is the leader in every passing category in the history of the Honolulu Blue and Silver, and many fans will believe he should be on the list instead of Layne. To that I say, you’re wrong.
Like it or not, the most important stat in the game isn’t an individual stat. It’s a team stat. The one that lists how many championships a team has won. For the Lions that category has remained unchanged for 63 years.
But in the 1950s the Lions were a dynasty. They were the 1970s Pittsburgh Steelers, or 1980s San Francisco 49ers, or the 1990s Dallas Cowboys. They were the team every other franchise wanted to be. Between outstanding coaching and player acquisitions, the Detroit Lions represented the pinnacle of pro football.
But the most important ingredient was quarterback Bobby Layne. His fiery competitiveness and temper drove those teams to be the best they could be more than any other factor. Layne hated to lose and his teammates did everything in their power every week to make sure the Lions didn’t.
Bobby Layne absolutely should be on the franchise five.
My one change would be the final member of the franchise five. Calvin Johnson. This isn’t meant to diminish his contributions to the team or how great he was because Calvin does deserve to be on this list, but in order to come up with a final five some hard decisions have to be made.
My change is simple; I would put Matthew Stafford here instead of Calvin Johnson.
Since the spot on the list can be any position and there was no rule saying there couldn’t be another quarterback, I would put Matthew here. Which in a way also gives a nod to Calvin since Matthew threw more passes to Johnson than any other quarterback.
But the long and short of it is this; Matthew holds every team passing record and while Calvin has all the receiving records, Matthew has played longer is much more the face of the franchise than Calvin.
So that’s my franchise five; Buddy Parker, Bobby Layne, Joe Schmidt, Barry Sanders and Matthew Stafford. What’s yours? Tell us in the comment section below.