What is more legendary in Lions history than the tremendous seasons they had in the 50's ? Probably the QB that brought them there. Bobby Layne attended the very same High School in Texas that Matthew Stafford graduated from. The two of them also lived on the same street. Bobby Layne along with High Land Park High School teammate Doak Walker both went on to have Hall of Fame careers in the NFL. They also won multiple championships for the Detroit Lions when they reunited in 1950 when Bobby Layne joined the Lions. Bobby was first drafted by the Chicago bears and by the Baltimore Colts. (Then with the AAFC) Poppa Bear Halas convinced Layne of a rise to fame in Chicago and signed him to a roster that already consisted of Sid Luckman and Johnny Lujack. Once Layne refused to return to the Bears after one season as the 3rd string QB he was traded to the New York Bulldogs for a first round pick and $50,000. The cash was to be paid in four installments. Like many teams in the day the Bulldogs became defunct but did however trade Layne to the Lions in 1950 and Detroit would pick up the remainder of the money owed to George Halas. That is where a Hall of Fame career finally began.
One of the finest QBs in Texas history went on to become one of the greatest QBs in NFL history. Still to this day the most sucessful quarterback in Detroit Lions history. Elected to 5 Pro Bowls in his career and named to the 1950's All-Decade team also brought the Lions there first championship in 17 years. They won the NFL championship back to back in 1952 and 1953. They lost to the Cleveland Browns in 1954 as they attempted 3 championships in a row. In 1957 Layne started another title run when late in the season he broke his leg in 3 places. Bobby Laynes season was over and backup Tobin Rote would take over. The team won the 57 championhip. The Lions traded Layne to the Steelers and handed the team over to Tobin Rote. The Lions have never competed for a championship or a Lombardi trophy sense.
Layne was never a great passer his passes where ugly at times as the ball wobbled in the air. Bobby will be remembered for his leadership, drive and clutch abillity. Never for his athleticisim or pretty passes. Bobby Layne is credited with creating the very popular 2 minute offense and was one of the last players to not use a face mask. Doak Walker once said " Bobby Layne never lost a game...time just ran out on him". He was placed in the Texas Long Horn hall of honor in 1963. Was elected to the NFL hall of fame in 1967. In 1995 sports illustated named him the toughest QB ever. In1999 sporting news ranked him 52 on there list of 100 greatest players. Layne played 15 years in the NFL throwing 26, 768 yards and 196 touchdowns. Layne retired in 1962 with the Steelers and remained with them as an assistan coach. Bobby died in 1986 at the age of 59 but forever left his imprint on the game.
It dosen't matter if you belive in the "curse" that isn't how Layne should be remembered. He was a great leader and a winner. Bobby Layne never lost a game without a fight. Bobby played in a day where the NFL was beyond violent by todays standards. He should be remembered as a Hall of famer a Champion and a brave man. One has to enjoy some of the similaritys between Matthew Stafford and Bobby Layne. Perhaps it isn't fair to compare the two so many generations apart. Maybe just maybe we have found the replacement for Bobby Layne as Jim Schwartz said we needed to do but only time will tell. Without question though Bobby Layne is the greatest QB in Lions history until someone deems themself worthy of being in that discussion. In a time when NFL history was being made Bobby Layne made everyone take notice of him and the Lions.