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Top 10 Detroit Lions of all time

Top 10 Detroit Lions of all time
When discussing the greatest Detroit Lions in franchise history, it's difficult to argue that anyone was greater than Barry Sanders. (Credit: Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY Sports)

DETROIT (BVM) — A legion of greats have donned Detroit Lions’ gear over the years. These are the top 10 players in their history.

10. Yale Lary, DB, 1952-64

Lary is known as a superb strong-side safety, yet did much more than that. Lary is third in team history with 50 INTs. The Texas A&M alum notched nine Pro Bowls and three first-team All-Pro games as a Lion. He also made huge plays on special teams. Lary blocked four punts and returned two for TDs as well. No. 28 has been immortalized in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

9 Alex Karras, DT, 1958-70

Detroit’s turbo-charged defensive tackle leads the pack in career sacks (100). The 6-foot-2 Iowa product slots second all-time in fumble recoveries (18) for the Lions. Karras tallied three first-team All-Pro awards. No. 71 recently was inducted into the Hall of Fame.

8. Bobby Layne, QB, 1950-58

The Blond Bomber bagged two first-team All-Pro accolades and six Pro Bowl appearances with Detroit. Layne twice led the league in passing yards (1950-51) and topped the field with 26 TD passes in 1951. The 6-foot-1 signal caller captured three NFL titles with the pride.

7. Robert Porcher, DE, 1992-2003

Porcher may be vastly underrated but he is undoubtedly among the greatest to play in the Motor City. The 6-foot-3, 275-pound powerhouse spots second in sacks (95.5) for the Lions. His 602 career tackles rank high on the team’s career list. The South Carolina native logged three Pro Bowl years in Honolulu Blue and silver.

6. Jack Christiansen, DB, 1951-58

The Kansas-born keystone of Detroit’s halcyon championship run. Christiansen scored six straight first-team All-Pro selections. He is No. 4 in career INTs (46) for the Lions. His efforts helped the Honolulu Blue bag three NFL crowns. In 1970, Christiansen got his gold jacket.

5. Doak Walker, RB, 1950-55

Walker hit the ground running and rushed his way into team history. The 1948 Heisman Trophy winner added four first-team All-Pro picks. Walker was the NFL leader in points scored twice during his days with Detroit. The former SMU star led the league in extra points two times during his Lions’ career. In 1986, Walker gained entry into the Hall of Fame.

4. Lem Barney, CB, 1967-77

The 6-foot standout from Jackson St. made his presence felt from the start. The Mississippi native earned NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year honors. He’s No. 2 all-time with 56 INTs for the Lions. Plus he ranks third with 17 career fumbles recovered. Barney drew first-team All-Pro distinction twice as a Lion. He recorded 11 TDs in total on defense and special teams.  Barney got called to Canton for his Hall of Fame induction in 1992.

3. Joe Schmidt, MLB, 1953-65

Schmidt tops the Lions with eight first-team All-Pro bids. The 10-time Pro Bowler from Pennsylvania ties for third in team history with 17 fumble recoveries. Schmidt anchored the pride’s defense during two title runs.

2. Calvin Johnson, WR, 2007-15

Megatron holds all of the Lions’ major receiving records — most receptions, yards and scores. No. 81 is a specimen unlike any other at wide receiver. Johnson owns the NFL single-season record for receiving yards (1964). The Georgian great achieved Hall of Fame status in 2021.

1. Barry Sanders, RB, 1989-98

It’s been 25 years since he walked away from the game, and there hasn’t been anyone like him since, and likely won’t ever be again. Just say No. 20 anywhere around the city and they know. The numbers don’t really do him justice. Barry may be the greatest in NFL history.

Originals

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