Most people who follow the Detroit Lions are too young to remember the great quarterback Bobby Layne. Lanye was the face of the NFL in the 1940’s and 50’s and he starred for the Detroit Lions.
Layne was the poster-boy for the NFL after growing into a legend for his college performance at the University of Texas and then with for his time with the Detroit Lions.
Layne came to the Lions in a trade in 1950 after playing 2 seasons with Chicago Bears and the New York Bulldogs. That year, the Lions traded defensive end Bob Mann for Layne and the culture of Detroit football instantly changed.
Layne would lead the Lions to the NFL Champion in 1952, 53 and got the team to the championship game in 1954. Layne was reunited with his Highland Park High School teammate Doak Walker and the two of these future Hall of Famers led Detroit to become a Mecca for the NFL and created a dynasty. Then the unthinkable happened.
The 1957 Season
Layne was leading the Lions to another championship when he was tackled wrong and broke his leg in 3 places. Layne;s backup was a quarterback named Tobin Rote who came in and guided the Lions to the 1957 championship and had people in the Detroit front office thinking it was time for Layne and the Lions to part ways. Layne was traded that offseason to the Pittsburgh Steelers and some say this is a move that changed the face of football history.
The Curse of Bobby Layne
Layne could not believe the Lions traded him. He started the 2-minute offense, he was a gritty leader, he led them to world championships and now, after a brutal injury, the Lions showed him the door. Layne was heartbroken. Upon his trade, Layne announced to the Lions, “You will not win again for 50 years.” People laughed at the prediction of Layne but history shows that there may be more to a curse than meets the eye.
Since the Layne trade, the Lions have never won another NFL Championship nor a Super Bowl (the equivalent of a championship after the NFL merger). The team feel into the abyss and Layne remained bitter throughout the rest of his life.
Is there something to curses? Well, the Detroit Lions have some an about-face when they drafted Matthew Stafford with the 1st overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft. Stafford went to high school at Highland Park High School in Texas where Layne started his historic run.
Maybe this is all one big coincidence but one has to wonder where the Lions franchise would’ve been if they had been loyal to Bobby Layne? I guess we’ll never really know.