Detroit Lions: Ranking the top 7 coaches in franchise history

Detroit Lions (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Detroit Lions (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /
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Raymond “Buddy” Parker, Detroit Lions (Photo by George Gelatly/Getty Images)
Raymond “Buddy” Parker, Detroit Lions (Photo by George Gelatly/Getty Images) /

1) Buddy Parker

The greatest coach in Lions’ history was Buddy Parker. The chainsmoking Parker roamed the sidelines at Briggs Stadium from 1951-1956 and compiled a 47-23-2 record as the head coach in the Motor City while leading Detroit to three championship game appearances.

The combination of Parker and Hall of Fame quarterback Bobby Layne, combined with a stout defense made the Lions perennial contenders.

In 1952 Parker led the Lions to victory in the Western Conference tie-breaker against the Los Angeles Rams 31-21 from which they advanced to the championship game in Cleveland, defeating the Browns 17-7 to capture the second world championship in franchise history.

This was the first of three straight years that the Lions and Browns faced each other in the title game. Detroit won again in 1953 by a score of 17-16 when Bobby Layne hit receiver Jim Doran with a last-minute touchdown pass before Cleveland got their revenge in 1954 by defeating the Lions 56-10 for the championship.

Parker was a savvy coach despite his legendary superstitions which kept him from allowing any player to wear the number 13 and caused him to stop staying at the Chicago Hilton hotel whenever they had a game in the Windy City after the Lions were placed on the 13th floor one year and then lost to the Bears.

Parker was also the driving force behind building that Lions 1950s dynasty. He had a keen eye for talent and knew how to utilize his players, but the stress of the game may have just been too much for him. Just as he had with the Chicago Cardinals in 1949, on August 12th, 1957, less than a month after acquiring Tobin Rote who be the key piece that allowed the Lions to win the 1957 title, Buddy Parker announced his resignation.

Somehow or another Buddy Parker never made it to the Pro Football Hall of Fame despite being the architect and conductor of the Lions dynasty of the 1950s. One has to wonder if that will ever be rectified.

Next. Detroit Lions: Ranking the top 10 quarterbacks in franchise history. dark

The history of the Detroit Lions head coaches has some interesting names and stories, but for my money, these coaches represent the best of a franchise that fell hard from grace and has become an organization desperate to rekindle its glory from so long ago. What do you think?