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All-Time Teams: Detroit Lions



Introduction

In my endless research of all things football and through my passion for the history of the NFL, I have decided to try and compile an All-Time Team for all 32 current NFL franchises. By All-Time Team I mean a starting roster compiled of the very best players to ever put on each franchise’s jersey. I will be starting in alphabetical order by current franchise location, so Arizona Cardinals all the way to The Washington Football Team, with the goal of releasing one to two All-Time teams a week for the duration of the current NFL season. This is meant to be fun and cause some debate and is based on my opinion after all my research and deep dives into each franchise’s history. Of course, not everyone will agree with who I chose, and I’d love to hear from anyone who agrees or disagrees, but first, let’s lay out some ground rules for how I came up with each team.


1. Each team roster will consist of the following:

Offense - 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 2 OT, 2 OG, 1 C

Defense - 2 DE, 2 DT, 3 LB, 2 CB, 2 S

Special Teams - 1 K, 1 P, 1 Returner

Coach - 1 Head Coach


2. I only considered an individual’s stats and contributions with each specific franchise. For example, Peyton Manning’s years with the Broncos were not considered when deciding on the starting QB of the Colts All-Time Team. As a result, the stats and awards listed with each individual player are only those that were achieved with that specific franchise.


3. A player cannot represent two teams as the starter. Players who spent time with more than one team were considered for the franchise they spent the most time with or had the most impact on. This rule led to some interesting scenarios that I will discuss in detail with each specific article to try and clear up any confusion.


4. A player’s stats and impact were considered in context with their era. This won’t simply be a listing of who passed or ran for the most yards in franchise history.


5. All stats are from Pro-Football-Reference and through the 2021 season. I will also be counting sacks from 1960, though the NFL doesn't officially count sacks until 1982.


6. Players in the "Honorable Mentions" section are ordered by year. It's not an indication of where I believe they rank in franchise history.


Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to it!


Detroit Lions All-Time Team


Franchise Information


First Season: 1930

  1. Portsmouth Spartans (1930-1933)

  2. Detroit Lions (1934-Present)

Record: 570-694-34 (45.09 W-L%)

Playoff Record: 7-13

Super Bowls Won: 0

Pre-Super Bowl Championships Won: 4 (1935, 1952, 1953 and 1957) (Lost in 1954)

Passing Leader: Matthew Stafford 3,898/6,224 | 45,109 Yds | 282 TD

Rushing Leader: Barry Sanders 3,062 Att | 15,269 Yds | 99 TD

Receiving Leader: Calvin Johnson 731 Rec | 11,619 Yds | 83 TD

Sack Leader: Alex Karras 100 Sk

Interception Leader: Dick LeBeau 62 Int

Scoring Leader: Jason Hanson 2,150 Points

Winningest Coach: Wayne Fontes 66-67


QB: Bobby Layne (1950-1958)

Record: 53-29-2 | 49 Cmp% | 15,170 Yds | 118 TD | 142 Int | 1,793 Rush Yds | 13 Rush TD | Led League in Cmp% 1955 (53%) | Led League in Yds 1950 and 1951 (2,323, 2,403) | Led League in TD 1951 (26) | Led League in Yds/G 1950 and 1951 (193.6, 200.3) | 5x Pro-Bowl (51, 52, 53, 56, 58) | 2x All-Pro (52, 56) | 1952, 1953 and 1957 NFL Champion | 1954 Championship Appearance | Hall of Fame All-1950s Team | Hall of Fame Class 1967


Bobby Layne is easily the greatest quarterback in Lions history. Don't let the fact that he threw more interceptions than touchdowns full you, Layne was one of the best quarterbacks of his era. He led the league in completion percentage and touchdowns once as well as leading the league in yards and yards per game twice each. He was named to five Pro-Bowls and two All-Pro Teams during his nine seasons in Detroit. Most notably, he was a winner. He only had one losing season and led the lions to four championship game appearances, winning in 1952, 1953 and 1957. The lions have managed to win one playoff game in the 60 plus years since Layne. Stafford was a very good quarterback in his time with the Lions and holds the franchise records in yards and touchdowns.


Honorable Mentions

  1. Glen Presnell (1931-1936) | Record: 48-20-6 | 35.6 Cmp% | 1,670 Yds | 17 TD | 37 Int | 1,593 Rush Yds | 18 Rush TD | Led League in Rush TD 1933 (6) | 1x All-Pro (33) | 1935 NFL Champion

  2. Frankie Sinkwich (1943-1944) | Record: 9-9-2 | 39.4 Cmp% | 1,759 Yds | 19 TD | 40 Int | 829 Rush Yds | 7 Rush TD | 1x All-Pro (44) | 1944 MVP

  3. Greg Landry (1968-1978) | Record: 40-41-3 | 54.8 Cmp% | 12,451 Yds | 80 TD | 81 Int | 2,502 Rush Yds | 19 Rush TD | 1x Pro-Bowl (71) | 1976 Comeback Player of the Year

  4. Scott Mitchell (1994-1998) | Record: 27-30 | 56.7 Cmp% | 12,647 Yds | 79 TD | 57 Int | 324 Rush Yds | 10 Rush TD |

  5. Matt Stafford (2009-2020) | Record: 74-90-1 | 62.6 Cmp% | 45,109 Yds | 282 TD | 144 Int | 1,198 Rush Yds | 14 Rush TD | Led League in Cmp 2012 (435) | 1x Pro-Bowl (14) | 2011 Comeback Player of the Year


RB: Barry Sanders (1989-1998)

5.0 Yds/A | 15,269 Yds | 99 TD | 352 Rec | 2,921 Rec Yds | 10 Rec TD | Led League in Yds 1990, 1994, 1996 and 1997 (1,304, 1,883, 1,553, 2,053) | Led League in TD 1991 (16) | Led League in Yds/A 1994 (5.7) | Led League in Yds/G 1991, 1994, 1996 and 1997 (103.2, 117.7, 97.1, 128.3) | Led League in YScm 1994 and 1997 (2,166, 2,358) | Led League in RRTD 1990 and 1991 (16, 17) | 10x Pro-Bowl (89, 90, 91, 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98) | 6x All-Pro (89, 90, 91, 94, 95, 97) | 1989 Offensive Rookie of the Year | 1991 and 1997 Bert Bell | 1994 and 1997 Offensive Player of the Year | 1997 MVP | Hall of Fame All-1990s Team | Hall of Fame Class 2004


Barry Sanders is arguably the best running back to ever play the game. After having the greatest season in college football history, the Lions selected Sanders with the third overall pick in 1989. He then went on to have maybe the best 10 year stretch of any player in NFL history. In all 10 seasons, Sanders had at least 1,100 yards rushing, with his worst season in terms of total yards being 1993, where he had 1,115 yards in only 11 games. Every other season he had at least 1,350 yards. He led the league in yards in 1990, 1994, 1996 and 1997. In 1997 he rushed for 2,053 yards and that's after having only 53 yards after the first two games. He then went on to have at least 100 yards in every game for the remainder of the season. Sanders also led the league in touchdowns and yards per attempt once, yards per game four times and yards from scrimmage and total touchdowns twice. He was named to the Pro-Bowl in all 10 of his seasons and named to the All-Pro Team six times. Sanders was the 1989 Offensive Rookie of the Year, the 1994 and 1997 Offensive Player of Year, the 1991 and 1997 Bert Bell Player of the Year and the 1997 MVP. It's a shame the Lions didn't build a better team around him, as he got tired of losing and abruptly retired right before the 1999 season. He was named to the Hall of Fame All-1990s Team and inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2004.


RB: Dutch Clark (1931-1932, 1934-1938)

4.6 Yds/A | 2,772 Yds | 36 TD | 28 Rec | 341 Rec Yds | 6 Rec TD | Led League in TD 1931, 1934, 1936 and 1937 (9, 8, 7, 5) | Led League in RRTD 1935 (6) | 6x All-Pro (31, 32, 34, 35, 36, 37) | Hall of Fame All-1930s Team | Hall of Fame Class 1963


The other running back for the All-Time Lions is Dutch Clark. Clark was the first great running back in NFL history. He led the league in touchdowns a whopping four different times and was named to six All-Pro Teams. He was the main reason the Lions won the NFL Championship in 1935. He was named to the Hall of Fame All-1930s Team and inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1963. The Lions have a few other great running backs, including Billy Simms and Hall of Famer Doak Walker.


Honorable Mentions

  1. Ace Gutowsky (1932-1938) | 3.6 Yds/A | 3,077 Yds | 20 TD | 3 Rec | 64 Rec Yds | Led League in YScm 1936 (857)

  2. Whizzer White (1940-1941) | 3.2 Yds/A | 754 Yds | 7 TD | 9 Rec | 213 Rec Yds | 1 Rec TD | Led League in Yds 1940 (514) | 1x All-Pro (40) | Hall of Fame All-1940s Team

  3. Doak Walker (1950-1955) | 4.9 Yds/A | 1,520 Yds | 12 TD | 152 Rec | 2,539 Rec Yds | 21 Rec TD | 5x Pro-Bowl (50, 51, 53, 54, 55) | 4x All-Pro (50, 51, 53, 54) | Hall of Fame Class 1986

  4. Bob Hoernschemeyer (1950-1955) | 4.4 Yds/A | 2,439 Yds | 17 TD | 96 Rec | 951 Rec Yds | 7 Rec TD | 2x Pro-Bowl (51, 52)

  5. Nick Pietrosante (1959-1965) | 4.2 Yds/A | 3,933 Yds | 28 TD | 134 Rec | 1,323 Rec Yds | 2 Rec TD | Led League in Yds/A 1959 (5.9) | 2x Pro-Bowl (60, 61)

  6. Mel Farr (1967-1973) | 4.2 Yds/A | 3,072 Yds | 26 TD | 146 Rec | 1,374 Rec Yds | 10 Rec TD | Led League in Yds/Rec 1968 (6.4) | 2x Pro-Bowl (67, 70) | 1967 Offensive Rookie of the Year

  7. Altie Taylor (1969-1975) | 3.7 Yds/A | 4,297 Yds | 24 TD | 173 Rec | 1,523 Rec Yds | 6 Rec TD

  8. Steve Owens (1970-1974) | 3.9 Yds/A | 2,451 Yds | 20 TD | 99 Rec | 861 Rec Yds | 2 Rec TD | 1x Pro-Bowl (71)

  9. Dexter Bussey (1974-1984) | 4.2 Yds/A | 5,105 Yds | 18 TD | 193 Rec | 1,616 Rec Yds | 5 Rec TD

  10. Billy Sims (1980-1984) | 4.5 Yds/A | 5,106 Yds | 42 TD | 186 Rec | 2,072 Rec Yds | 5 Rec TD | Led League in TD 1980 (13) | Led League in RRTD 1980 (16) | 3x Pro-Bowl (80, 81, 82) | 1980 Offensive Rookie of the Year


WR: Calvin Johnson (2007-2015)

731 Rec | 11,619 Yds | 83 TD | Led League in Rec 2012 (122) | Led League in Yds 2011 and 2012 (1,681, 1,964) | Led League in TD 2008 (12) | Led League in Yds/G 2011 and 2012 (105.1, 122.8) | 6x Pro-Bowl (10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15) | 3x All-Pro (11, 12, 13) | Hall of Fame All-2010s Team | Hall of Fame Class 2021


The most dominant wide receiver of his era and maybe ever, Calvin Johnson, is the first pick for the All-Time Lions. He holds the franchise records in receptions, yards and touchdowns, even though he only played in nine seasons. His dominance was on full display in 2012 when he broke the single season record in yards with 1,964. Johnson had over 1,000 yards in seven seasons, including leading the league in 2011 and 2012. He also led the league in receptions and touchdowns once each. He was named to six straight Pro-Bowls from 2010-2015 and three straight All-Pro Teams from 2011-2013. Johnson, like Barry Sanders, retired abruptly, but he was still named to the Hal of Fame All-2010s Team and inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2021.


WR: Herman Moore (1991-2001)

670 Rec | 9,174 Yds | 62 TD | Led League in Rec 1995 and 1997 (123, 104) | Led League in Yds/Touch 1996 (12.2) | 4x Pro-Bowl (94, 95, 96, 97) | 3x All-Pro (95, 96, 97)


Herman Moore held all of the franchise receiving records before Calvin Johnson. He also has an outside chance to make the Hall of Fame one day. He led the league in receptions twice and yards per touch once, was named to four straight Pro-Bowls from 1994-1997 and three straight All-Pros from 1995-1997. Moore also had over 1,000 yards receiving four times, including a career high of 1,686 in 1995.


WR: Gail Cogdill (1960-1968)

325 Rec | 5,221 Yds | 28 TD | 3x Pro-Bowl (60, 62, 63) | 1960 Offensive Rookie of the Year


After Johnson and Moore, we have Gail Cogdill. He isn't a household name, but he was very good for nine seasons in Detroit. He had over 900 yards receiving three different times and over ten touchdowns once. Cogdill was also named to three Pro-Bowls and was the 1960 Offensive Rookie of the Year.


Honorable Mentions

  1. Harry Ebding (1931-1937) | 55 Rec | 971 Yds | 18 TD | Led League in Yds 1934 (264) | Led League in Yds/G 1934 (22) | 1x All-Pro (33)

  2. Cloyce Box (1949-1954) | 129 Rec | 2,665 Yds | 32 TD | Led League in TD 1952 (15) | Led League in RRTD 1952 (15) | 2x Pro-Bowl (50, 52) | 1x All-Pro (52)

  3. Leon Hart (1950-1957) | 174 Rec | 2,499 Yds | 26 TD | 1x Pro-Bowl (51) | 1x All-Pro (51)

  4. Terry Barr (1957-1965) | 227 Rec | 3,810 Yds | 35 TD | Led League in TD 1963 (13) | 2x Pro-Bowl (63, 64)

  5. Pat Studstill (1961-1967) | 153 Rec | 2,452 Yds | 15 TD | Led League in Yds 1966 (1,266) | Led League in Yds/G 1966 (90.4) | 2x Pro-Bowl (65, 66) | 1x All-Pro (66)

  6. Leonard Thompson (1975-1986) | 277 Rec | 4,682 Yds | 35 TD

  7. Brett Perriman (1991-1996) | 428 Rec | 5,244 Yds | 25 TD

  8. Johnnie Morton (1994-2001) | 469 Rec | 6,499 Yds | 35 TD

  9. Roy Williams (2004-2008) | 262 Rec | 3,884 Yds | 29 TD | 1x Pro-Bowl (06)

  10. Golden Tate (2014-2018) | 416 Rec | 4,741 Yds | 22 TD | 1x Pro-Bowl (14)

  11. Kenny Golladay (2017-2020) | 183 Rec | 3,068 Yds | 21 TD | Led League in TD 2019 (11) | 1x Pro-Bowl (19)


TE: Charlie Sanders (1968-1977)

336 Rec | 4,817 Yds | 31 TD | 7x Pro-Bowl (68, 69, 70, 71, 74, 75, 76) | 3x All-Pro (69, 70, 71) | Hall of Fame All-1970s Team | Hall of Fame Class 2007


At tight end we have Hall of Famer Charlie Sanders. Sanders spent 10 seasons with the Lions from 1968-1977. He was voted to the Pro-Bowl seven times and made three straight All-Pro Teams from 1969-1971. His numbers may not jump off the page at you, but he was consistently one of the best tight ends in football for a decade. He was named to the Hall of Fame All-1970s Team and inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2007.


Honorable Mentions

  1. Jim Gibbons (1958-1968) | 287 Rec | 3,561 Yds | 20 TD | 3x Pro-Bowl (60, 61, 64)

  2. David Hill (1976-1982) | 245 Rec | 3,054 Yds | 23 TD | 2x Pro-Bowl (78, 79)

  3. David Sloan (1995-2001) | 180 Rec | 2,024 Yds | 15 TD | 1x Pro-Bowl (99)


OT: Lou Creekmur (1950-1959)

Started 107 of 116 Games | 8x Pro-Bowl (50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57) | 6x All-Pro (51, 52, 53, 54, 56, 57) | Hall of Fame Class 1996


First at offensive tackle is Lou Creekmur. Creekmur started over 100 games with Lions in the 1950s and was a key member on three NFL Championship winning teams. He was named to eight straight Pro-Bowls from 1950-1957 and also named to six All-Pro Teams. He started every game six different times and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1996.


OT: Lomas Brown (1985-1995)

Started 163 of 164 Games | 6x Pro-Bowl (90, 91, 92, 93, 94, 95) | 1x All-Pro (95)


Lomas Brown is the other offensive tackle for this All-Time team. Brown started 163 games with the Lions from 1985-1995, being named to six straight Pro-Bowls from 1990-1995 and named to the All-Pro Team in 1995. He started in every game seven times and has an outside shot to make the Hall of Fame one day, though he's hurt by the fact that he played for mainly losing teams.


Honorable Mentions

  1. George Christensen (1931-1938) | Started 74 of 95 Games | 1x All-Pro (33) | Hall of Fame All-1930s Team

  2. Jack Johnson (1934-1940) | Started 63 of 76 Games | 1x Pro-Bowl (39)

  3. Rocky Freitas (1968-1977) | Started 115 of 121 Games | 1x Pro-Bowl (72)

  4. Jim Yorbrough (1969-1977) | Started 77 of 112 Games

  5. Keith Dorney (1979-1987) | Started 110 of 112 Games | 1x Pro-Bowl (82)

  6. Jeff Backus (2001-2012) | Started 191 of 191 Games


OG: Ox Emerson (1931-1937)

Started 60 of 75 Games | 5x All-Pro (32, 33, 34, 35, 36) | Hall of Fame All-1930s Team


Ox Emerson is the first offensive guard for the All-Time Lions. I am actually very surprised he hasn't already been inducted into the Hall of Fame. He started in 60 games with the Lions and was named to the All-Pro Team five straight times from 1932-1936. Emerson won a championship in 1935 and was also named to the Hall of Fame All-1930s Team. Seems like a Hall of Fame career to me.


OG: Dick Stanfel (1952-1955)

Started 37 of 39 Games | 2x Pro-Bowl (53, 55) | 2x All-Pro (53, 54) | Hall of Fame All-1950s Team | Hall of Fame Class 2016


This one was a tough one. I'm going with Dick Stanfel, but he is somewhat of an outlier when it comes to starters on my All-Time teams. Stanfel only played in seven total seasons, four with the Lions, so he did spend the majority of his career in Detroit. He only started 37 games with the Lions, which would normally not be enough for me, but he was named to the Pro-Bowl and the All-Pro Team twice, as well as being named to the Hall of Fame All-1950s Team and inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2016. Harley Sewell and John Gordy both started over 100 games and made multiple Pro-Bowls with the Lions, but I'm giving the edge to Stanfel since he's an All-Pro and a member of the Hall of Fame and an All-Decade Team.


Honorable Mentions

  1. Harley Sewell (1953-1962) | Started 112 of 120 Games | 4x Pro-Bowl (57, 58, 59, 62)

  2. John Gordy (1957-1967) | Started 128 of 134 Games | 3x Pro-Bowl (63, 64, 65)

  3. Bob Kowalkowski (1966-1976) | Started 100 of 138 Games


C: Kevin Glover (1985-1997)

Started 161 of 177 Games | 3x Pro-Bowl (95, 96, 97)


Coming in at center is Kevin Glover. Glover spent 13 seasons with the Lions and started every game nine times. He was named the Pro-Bowl three straight times from 1995-1997. Ed Flanagen made one more Pro-Bowl, but started in 22 less games and Dominic Raiola started in more games, but never made a Pro-Bowl or All-Pro Team.


Honorable Mentions

  1. Charlies Ane (1953-1959) | Started 76 of 83 Games | 2x Pro-Bowl (56, 58)

  2. Ed Flanagan (1965-1974) | Started 139 of 139 Games | 4x Pro-Bowl (69, 70, 71, 73)

  3. Dominic Raiola (2001-2014) | Started 203 of 219 Games


DE: Al Baker (1978-1982)

2 Int | 4 FR | 74 Sk | Led League in Sk 1978 and 1980 (23, 17.5) | 3x Pro-Bowl (78, 79, 80) | 1x All-Pro (78) | 1978 Defensive Rookie of the Year


Al Baker is the first defender for the All-Time Lions. He spent five seasons in Detroit, leading the league in sacks two different times. His 23 sacks in 1978 are the most ever in a single season, but the NFL didn't officially start counting sacks until 1982 so it isn't recognized. Baker was also named to three Pro-Bowls and one All-Pro Team, as well as being named the 1978 Defensive Rookie of the Year.


DE: Robert Porcher (1992-2003)

1 Int | 18 FF | 7 FR | 95.5 Sk | 602 Tackles | 56 TFL | 3x Pro-Bowl (97, 99, 01)


Robert Porcher is the other choice at defensive end for the Lions. He spent 12 seasons in Detroit from 1992-2003, compiling over 600 tackles and 95.5 sacks. His 95.5 sacks are the second most in franchise history. Porcher had over 10 sacks in five different seasons and was named to three Pro-Bowls.


Honorable Mentions

  1. Darris McCord (1955-1967) | 3 Int | 9 FR | 38.5 Sk | 1x Pro-Bowl (57)

  2. Larry Hand (1965-1977) | 5 Int | 8 FR | 62.5 Sk

  3. William Gay (1978-1987) | 2 Int | 14 FR | 60 Sk | Led League in FR 1985 (6)

  4. Tracey Scroggins (1992-2001) | 1 Int | 8 FF | 7 FR | 60.5 Sk | 321 Tackles | 23 TFL

  5. Ezekiel Ansah (2013-2018) | 10 FF | 3 FR | 48 Sk | 218 Tackles | 60 TFL | 1x Pro-Bowl (15)


DT: Alex Karras (1958-1962, 1963-1970)

4 Int | 16 FR | 100 Sk | 4x Pro-Bowl (60, 61, 62, 65) | 3x All-Pro (60, 61, 65) | Hall of Fame All-1960s Team | Hall of Fame Class 2020


Alex Karras is one of the greatest defensive tackles of all time and it's a shame that Hall of Fame voters waited until 2020 to finally induct him. Apparently, the reason voters were hesitant to induct Karras is because he was caught in a gambling scandal and suspended 1963, but so was Packers running back Paul Hornung and Hornung was inducted in 1986. Karras had at least 10 sacks in five different seasons and was named to four Pro-Bowls and three All-Pro Teams. He was also named to the Hall of Fame All-1960s Team. Karras also was a successful actor following his retirement, including playing the role of Mongo in Mel Brook's Blazing Saddles.


DT: Roger Brown (1960-1966)

2 Int | 11 FR | 62.5 Sk | 5x Pro-Bowl (62, 63, 64, 65, 66) | 2x All-Pro (62, 63)


The Detroit Lions are DEEP at the defensive tackle position. I struggled with who to go with at the second starting position, but I ultimately went with Roger Brown. Brown racked up over 60 sacks in seven seasons with the Lions, being named to five straight Pro-Bowls from 1962-1966 and the All-Pro Team in 1962 and 1963. I almost went with Ndamukong Suh, but Brown spent more seasons in Detroit and had almost double the sacks. Suh was a four time Pro-Bowler and three time All-Pro, as well as being named a member of the Hall of Fame All-2010s Team. Les Bingaman and Doug English were also great with the Lions.


Honorable Mentions

  1. Les Bingaman (1948-1954) | 2 Int | 9 FR | 2x Pro-Bowl (51, 53) | 3x All-Pro (51, 53, 54)

  2. Thurman McGraw (1950-1954) | 2 Int | 10 FR | Led League in FR 1950 (5) | 1x Pro-Bowl (50) | 1x All-Pro (52)

  3. Doug English (1975-1985) | 9 FR | 55.5 Sk | 4x Pro-Bowl (78, 81, 82, 83) | 1x All-Pro (82)

  4. Jerry Ball (1987-1992) | 1 FF | 6 FR | 18.5 Sk | 306 Tackles | 3x Pro-Bowl (89, 90, 91) | 1x All-Pro (91)

  5. Luther Elliss (1995-2003) | 4 FF | 7 FR | 27 Sk | 324 Tackles | 19 TFL | 2x Pro-Bowl (99, 00)

  6. Shaun Rogers (2001-2007) | 1 Int | 6 FF | 9 FR | 29 Sk | 355 Tackles | 65 TFL | 2x Pro-Bowl (04, 05)

  7. Ndamukong Suh (2010-2014) | 1 Int | 2 FF | 1 FR | 36 Sk | 238 Tackles | 66 TFL | 4x Pro-Bowl (10, 12, 13, 14) | 3x All-Pro (10, 13, 14) | 2010 Defensive Rookie of the Year | Hall of Fame All-2010s Team


LB: Joe Schmidt (1953-1965)

24 Int | 17 FR | 15 Sk | Led League in FR 1955 (8) | 10x Pro-Bowl (54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62, 63) | 8x All-Pro (54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 61, 62) | Hall of Fame All-1950s Team | Hall of Fame Class 1973


First up at linebacker is one of the all-time greats, Joe Schmidt. Schmidt spent 13 seasons in Detroit and was named to an insane 10 straight Pro-Bowls from 1954-1963. He was also named to eight different All-Pro Teams and was the leader on defense for a team that won three NFL Championships. Schmidt was named to the Hall of Fame All-1950s Team and inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1973.


LB: Chris Spielman (1988-1995)

4 Int | 12 FF | 17 FR | 10.5 Sk | 1,138 Tackles | Led League in Tackles 1994 (195) | Led League in Solo Tackles 1994 (124) | 4x Pro-Bowl (89, 90, 91, 94) | 1x All-Pro (91)


Chris Spielman is the next linebacker for the All-Time Lions. He had over 1,100 tackles in his eight seasons with Detroit, including leading the league in total and solo tackles in 1994. Spielman was named to four Pro-Bowls and one All-Pro Team and has a small chance to make the Hall of Fame one day, though I doubt he'll ever get the call. While he may not be quite a Hall of Famer, he was certainly one of the better linebackers in the NFL for around a decade.


LB: Wayne Walker (1958-1972)

14 Int | 15 FR | 38.5 Sk | 3x Pro-Bowl (63, 64, 65) | 1x All-Pro (65)


Rounding out this linebacker trio is Wayne Walker. Walker spent all 15 of his seasons with the Lions and was named to three straight Pro-Bowls from 1963-1965 and the All-Pro Team in 1965. He was a solid defender for all 15 seasons with the Lions and he played in exactly 200 games, which is the most by a defender in franchise history.


Honorable Mentions

  1. Mike Lucci (1965-1973) | 21 Int | 8 FR | 12 Sk | 1x Pro-Bowl (71)

  2. Paul Naumoff (1967-1978) | 6 Int | 7 FR | 20.5 Sk | 1x Pro-Bowl (70)

  3. Charlie Weaver (1971-1981) | 15 Int | 11 FR | 24 Sk

  4. Jimmy Williams (1982-1990) | 11 Int | 11 FR | 25.5 Sk

  5. Mike Cofer (1983-1992) | 1 Int | 10 FR | 62.5 Sk | 1x Pro-Bowl (88)

  6. George Jamison (1987-1993, 1997-1998) | 9 Int | 2 FF | 7 FR | 19.5 Sk | 480 Tackles

  7. Stephen Boyd (1995-2001) | 3 Int | 6 FF | 6 FR | 6.5 Sk | 575 Tackles | 13 TFL | 2x Pro-Bowl (99, 00)


CB: Lem Barney (1967-1977)

56 Int | 17 FR | Led League in Int 1967 (10) | Led League in FR 1968 (5) | 7x Pro-Bowl (67, 68, 69, 72, 73, 75, 76) | 2x All-Pro (68, 69) | 1967 Defensive Rookie of the Year | Hall of Fame All-1960s Team | Hall of Fame Class 1992


The first cornerback for the Lions is Lem Barney. Barney spent 11 seasons in Detroit, intercepting 56 passes. He had at least two interceptions in every season and at least five in interceptions in five seasons. Barney also led the league in interceptions in his first season with 10. He was named to seven Pro-Bowls and two All-Pro Teams on his way to being named to the Hall of Fame All-1960s Team. He was inducted into the Hall of fame in 1992.


CB: Dick “Night Train” Lane (1960-1965)

21 Int | 4 FR | 3x Pro-Bowl (60, 61, 62) | 2x All-Pro (61, 62) | Hall of Fame Class 1974


This was the hardest decision I have had to make so far. "Night Train" Lane is one of the greatest cornerbacks of all time. He spent six seasons with both the Lions and Cardinals, but Aeneas Williams and Roger Wehrli kept him off of the All-Time Cardinals team so that frees him up to be a member of the All-Tine Lions. Where I struggled to make a decision was whether or not to put him or Dick LeBeau in this spot. They both made three Pro-Bowls, but Lane made two All-Pro Teams to LeBeau's zero, but LeBeau had 62 interceptions over his 14 seasons in Detroit, which is almost three times more than Lane. Ultimately, I went with Lane, you can't make an All-Time team for every franchise and leave out one of the greatest to ever do it.


Honorable Mentions

  1. Jim David (1952-1959) | 36 Int | 5 FR | 6x Pro-Bowl (54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59)

  2. Dick LeBeau (1959-1972) | 62 Int | 9 FR | 1.5 Sk | 3x Pro-Bowl (64, 65, 66) | Hall of Fame Class 2010

  3. Bruce McNorton (1982-1990) | 20 Int | 6 FR | 1 Sk

  4. Dre Bly (2003-2006) | 19 Int | 12 FF | 5 FR | 1 Sk | 202 Tackles | 6 TFL | 2x Pro-Bowl (03, 04)

  5. Darius Slay (2013-2019) | 19 Int | 1 FF | 1 Sk | 347 Tackles | 5 TFL | Led League in Int 2017 (8) | 3x Pro-Bowl (17, 18, 19) | 1x All-Pro (17)


S: Yale Lary (1952-1964)

50 Int | 13 FR | 9x Pro-Bowl (53, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62, 64) | 3x All-Pro (56, 58, 62) | Hall of Fame All-1950s Team | Hall of Fame Class 1979


The Lions secondary may be the best of all the All-Time Teams. First up at safety is Yale Lary. Lary intercepted 50 passes during his 13 seasons in Detroit, including having at least five interceptions in five different seasons. He was named to nine different Pro-Bowls and three All-Pro Teams on his way to being named to the Hall of Fame All-1950s Team. Lary was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1979.


S: Jack Christiansen (1951-1958)

46 Int | 7 FR | Led League in Int 1953 and 1957 (12, 10) | 5x Pro-Bowl (53, 54, 55, 56, 57) | 6x All-Pro (52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57) | Hall of Fame All-1950s Team | Hall of Fame Class 1970


Jack Christiansen makes the All-Time Lions four for four in the secondary, as all spots are filled by Hall of Famers. Christiansen eight seasons in Detroit, intercepting 46 passes and being named to five Pro-Bowls and six All-Pro Teams. He led the league in interceptions in both 1953 and 1957 and was named to the Hall of Fame All-1950s Team. Christiansen was key defender on three championship winning teams and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1970.

Honorable Mentions

  1. Don Doll (1949-1952) | 26 Int | 7 FR | 3x Pro-Bowl (50, 51, 52)

  2. Bob Smith (1949-1954) | 29 Int | 9 FR | 1x Pro-Bowl (52)

  3. Bruce Maher (1960-1967) | 16 Int | 4 FR | 1 Sk

  4. Mike Weger (1967-1975) | 17 Int | 6 FR | 6.5 Sk

  5. Dick Jauron (1973-1977) | 14 Int | 11 FR | 13 Sk | 1x Pro-Bowl (74)

  6. Bennie Blades (1988-1996) | 12 Int | 9 FF | 11 FR | 4 Sk | 790 Tackles | 1x Pro-Bowl (91)

  7. Glover Quin (2013-2018) | 19 Int | 7 FF | 2 FR | 3 Sk | 423 Tackles | 11 TFL | Led League in Int 2014 (7) | 1x Pro-Bowl (14)


K: Jason Hanson (1992-2012)

82.4 FG% | 56 Long | 2,150 Points | Led League in Long 1997 (55) | 2x Pro-Bowl (97, 99)


Jason Hanson played in over 300 games with the Lions and scored over 2,000 points. He was the Lions kicker for 20 seasons! His points and games played with one team are unmatched in NFL history and he was also named to the Pro-Bowl in 1997 and 1999. Hanson is fourth in points and sixth in games played in NFL history and has a shot to be inducted into the Hall of Fame one day.


Honorable Mentions

  1. Jim Martin (1951-1961) | 44.8 FG% | 52 Long | 259 Points | Led League in Long 1960 (52) | 1x Pro-Bowl (61)

  2. Eddie Murray (1980-1991) | 75.1 FG% | 54 Long | 1,113 Points | Led League in FGM 1980 (27) | Led League in FG% 1988 and 1989 (95.2%, 95.2%) | Led League in Points 1981 (121) | 2x Pro-Bowl (80, 89) | 1x All-Pro (80) | Hall of Fame All-1980s Team

  3. Matt Prater (2014-2020) | 84.4 FG% | 59 Long | 768 Points | 1x Pro-Bowl (16)

P: Yale Lary (1952-1964)

22,279 Punt Yards | 73 Long | 44.3 Yards/Punt | Led League in Long 1963 (73) | Led League in Yds/Punt 1959, 1961 and 1963 (47.1, 48.4, 48.9) | 9x Pro-Bowl (53, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62, 64) | 3x All-Pro (56, 58, 62) | Hall of Fame All-1950s Team | Hall of Fame Class 1979


Along with being a great safety, Yale Lary was also a great punter. He averaged 44.3 yards per punt and led the league in the category three different times. All three times he averaged over 47 yards per punt. He was the best punter in the NFL for over a decade.


Honorable Mentions

  1. Tom Skladany (1978-1982) | 11,363 Punt Yds | 74 Long | 42.4 Yds/Punt | 1x Pro-Bowl (81)

  2. Jim Arnold (1986-1993) | 22,893 Punt Yards | 71 Long | 42.7 Yards/Punt | Led League in Yards 1981 (4,110) | 2x Pro-Bowl (87, 88) | 1x All-Pro (87)

  3. Nick Harris (2003-2010, 2012) | 29,857 Punt Yds | 67 Long | 43 Yds/Punt

  4. Sam Martin (2013-2019) | 21,760 Punt Yds | 72 Long | 46 Yds/Punt


Returner: Mel Gray (1989-1994)

1,427 Punt Rt Yds | 2 Punt Rt TD | 10.8 Yds/Punt Rt | 5,478 Kick Rt Yds | 5 Kick Rt TD | 25.4 Yds/Kick Rt | Led League in Yds/Punt Rt 1991 (15.4) | Led League in Kick Rt Yards (929) | Led League in Kick Rt TD 1993 and 1994 (1, 3) | Led League in Kick Rt Long 1994 (102) | Led League in Yards/Kick Rt 1991 and 1994 (25.8, 28.4) | 4x Pro-Bowl (90, 91, 92, 94) | 3x All-Pro (90, 91, 94) | Hall of Fame All-1990s


I almost went with safety Jack Christiansen in this spot as he returned eight punts back for a touchdown, but Mel Gray gets the nod here as he's one of the best pure returners ever. He totaled just under 7,000 return yards and six touchdowns. He led the league in yards per punt return, kick return yards, kick return touchdowns, kick return long and yards per kick return at least once, and this versatility is what gives him the edge over Christiansen. Gray was named to four Pro-Bowls, three All-Pro Teams and the Hall of Fame All-1990s Team.


Honorable Mentions

  1. Jack Christiansen (1951-1958) | 1,084 Punt Rt Yds | 8 Punt Rt TD | 12.8 Yds/Punt Rt | 1,329 Kick Rt Yds | 22.5 Yds/Kick Rt | Led League in Punt Rt TD 1951, 1952, 1954 and 1956 (4, 2, 1, 1) | Led League in Yds/Punt Rt 1951 and 1952 (19.1, 21.5) | 5x Pro-Bowl (53, 54, 55, 56, 57) | 6x All-Pro (52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57) | Hall of Fame All-1950s Team | Hall of Fame Class 1970

  2. Desmond Howard (1999-2002) | 821 Punt Rt Yds | 2 Punt Rt TD | 12.1 Yds/Punt Rt | 3,732 Kick Rt Yds | 24.1 Yds/Kick Rt | Led League in Punt Rt Long 2000 (95) | 1x Pro-Bowl (00)

  3. Eddie Drummond (2002-2006) | 1,058 Punt Rt Yds | 4 Punt Rt TD | 9.8 Yds/Punt Rt | 5,026 Kick Rt Yds | 2 Kick Rt TD | 23.6 Yds/Kick Rt | Led League Punt Rt TD 2004 (2) | Led League in Yds/Punt Rt 2004 (13.2) | 1x Pro-Bowl (04) | 1x All-Pro (04)

  4. Jamal Agnew (2017-2020) | 857 Punt Rt Yds | 4 Punt Rt TD | 11.6 Yds/Punt Rt | 1,649 Kick Yds | 1 Kick Rt TD | 25.8 Yds/Kick Rt | Led League in Punt Rt Yds 2017 (447) | Led League in Punt Rt TD 2017 and 2020 (2, 1) | Led League in Punt Rt Long 2017 (88) | Led League on Yds/Punt Rt 2017 (15.4) | Led League in Kick Rt TD 2019 (1) | 1x All-Pro (17)

Head Coach: Buddy Parker (1951-1956)

Regular Season: 47-23-2 | 67.1 W-L% | Playoffs: 3-1 | 1952 and 1953 NFL Champion | 1954 Championship Appearance


Buddy Parker won over 65% of his games with the Lions and led them to three championship game appearances. He won the championship in both 1952 and 1953 and only had one losing season. I'm honestly surprised that Parker has never got the call to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Potsy Clark and George Wilson each won one championship with the Lions and Wayne Fontes won the most games ever for a Lions head coach with 66.


Honorable Mentions

  1. Potsy Clark (1931-1936, 1940) | Regular Season: 53-25-7 | 67.9 W-L% | Playoffs: 1-0 | 1935 NFL Championship

  2. George Wilson (1957-1964) | Regular Season: 53-45-6 | 54.1 W-L% | Playoffs: 2-0 | 1957 NFL Champion | 1957 Coach of the Year

  3. Joe Schmidt (1967-1972) | Regular Season: 43-34-7 | 55.8 W-L% | Playoffs: 0-1

  4. Wayne Fontes (1988-1996) | Regular Season: 66-67 | 49.6 W-L% | Playoffs: 1-4 | 1991 Coach of the Year





1 Comment


Chris Bonneu
Chris Bonneu
Mar 15, 2023

I agree that the starting defensive secondary for the "Spartons" is one of the best of the all-time all-stars teams.

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