Buddy Parker, who led the Detroit Lions to two NFL championships in six seasons as head coach, was announced as a semifinalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2024 on Wednesday. Parker is among 60 candidates on the list of Seniors, Coaches and Contributors, and one of 29 coaches.
Parker was similarly acknowledged as a candidate for the 2023 Hall of Fame class, but he didn't gain induction. It seems like it'll be an uphill climb again this time around, but it's still nice to see him acknowledged.
Parker spent the first two seasons of his playing career (1935 and 1936) with the Lions. He became the team's head coach in 1951, with a 47-23-2 regular season record (and a 3-1 postseason record) over six seasons with back-to-back NFL titles in 1952 and 1953. The Lions lost the 1954 NFL Championship Game with Parker as the coach.
Overall, including playoffs and time with the Chicago Cardinals (1949) and Pittsburgh Steelers(1957-1964), Parker had a 107-76-9 record as an NFL head coach.
Buddy Parker could have had three championships as Detroit Lions head coach
As recalled by the Detroit Free Press, Parker suddenly resigned as Lions' head coach before the 1957 season. He had some pointed quotes about what he was leaving behind.
"Sometime in every football coach’s career, there comes a time when he reaches a situation which he can’t handle. I’ve just arrived at that point. Tonight, I’m getting out of the Detroit Lions’ organization. I’ve had enough.”"
"The basic reason for my decision to quit is that I can’t handle this squad,” he said. “It is the worst team I’ve ever had from a standpoint of working on the field, getting the job done and its actions off the field. …"- Buddy Parker
Offensive coordinator George Wilson replaced Parker. The Lions went 8-4 and won the 1957 NFL title. That title could have easily been Parker's, if he hadn't essentially thrown up his hands and moved on amid some apparent rampant dysfunction. The Lions have won one playoff game since that 1957 title game.
Maybe the "Curse of Bobby Layne" has robbed notoriety from what should be a similar curse attached to Parker's sudden and unexpected resignation. Parker passed away at the age of 68 in 1982.
So what's the next step regarding Parker's Hall of Fame candidacy?
The respective selection committees will now consider the current candidates and vote to send 12 Seniors and 12 Coach/Contributors to the next stage of the voting process. Results are scheduled to be announced on Jul. 27. Then Coach/Contributor Committee members will reconvene on Aug. 15 to select one Coach or Contributor for final consideration to be in the Class of 2024.