5 greatest Detroit Lions of all time
In terms of wins and losses, the Detroit Lions franchise hasn’t been all that successful, but they have still had some elite players throughout their history.
One of the most exciting offensive players in NFL history was on the Lions, and he’s obviously among the best to ever play for the franchise.
Let’s take a look at the five greatest Lions of all time.
5. Dick Lane
Dick Lane spent only six of his seasons with the Lions, but he still did enough during that time to make the list of greatest Lions of all time. “Night Train” was one of the greatest cornerbacks of all time, but he often is overlooked because of all the good cornerbacks that have come since him.
Lane appeared in 66 games during his time in Detroit, racking up 21 interceptions, four fumble returns, and one touchdown. He was named to three Pro Bowls with Detroit and twice he was a First-Team All-Pro selection. During his entire career, he was named to seven Pro Bowls.
He was a difference-maker for the Lions defense.
4. Calvin Johnson
Calvin Johnson would have been higher up on this list if he wouldn’t have walked away from the Lions and the game of football so early in his career. Johnson played his entire career from 2007-2015 with the Lions. When he was on the field, there was no one who was able to cover him.
Johnson played in 135 career games, catching 731 passes for 11,169 yards and 83 touchdowns. Megatron was a six-time Pro Bowler and was named to an All-Pro team in four different seasons.
Johnson and the Lions didn’t agree late in his career on some things and it ended up causing him to hang up the cleats early. Johnson isn’t the only superstar to have some beef with the team at the end of their career.
3. Joe Schmidt
Joe Schmidt was drafted in the seventh round of the 1953 NFL Draft by the Lions. He was joining a defense that was already strong, but they needed another good linebacker.
By the 1956 season, Schmidt was elected a team captain, something he was until he hung up the cleats after the 1965 season. Tackles weren’t an official stat back when Schmidt played, but he was one of the best of his time at doing that. Twice he was also named the best defender in football.
After retiring from playing football, he came back two years later to coach the Lions, something he also found success doing.
2. Bobby Layne
Bobby “Blonde Bomber” Layne is the only quarterback that makes the Lions’ top five list. Layne was the quarterback during the only real successful time in Lions history.
He played with the Lions from 1950-58 and made 84 starts for the team. Layne did throw a lot of interceptions during his time, but he still found a lot of success in terms of winning games. The Lions won the NFL Championship in 1952, 1953, and 1957.
He was a five-time Pro Bowler and named to the First Team All-Pro two times. Layne was traded to the Pittsburgh Steelers after the 1958 season, something that didn’t make him very happy.
1. Barry Sanders
Barry Sanders isn’t only one the best players in Lions history, he is one of the best players in NFL history. Sanders changed the Lions franchise forever the first time he stepped onto the field. He had the power and speed to make almost any defender look silly who was trying to bring him down.
Sanders was a ten-time Pro Bowler and six-time All-Pro first team. During his career, he rushed for 15,269 yards and 99 touchdowns. He was another player who many believed hung up his cleats up too early.
If he would have played even a few more years, his stats would have been even more impressive.