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Bobby Layne
Position(s)
Quarterback, Placekicker
Jersey #(s)
22
Born December 19, 1926(1926-12-19)
Santa Anna, Texas
Died December 1, 1986 (aged 59)
Lubbock, Texas
Career information
Year(s) 19481962
NFL Draft 1948 / Round: 1 / Pick: 3
College Texas
Professional teams
Career stats
TD-INT 196-243
Yards 26,768
QB Rating 63.4
Stats at NFL.com
Career highlights and awards

Robert Lawrence Layne (December 19, 1926 – December 1, 1986), was born in Santa Anna, Texas, USA. He attended Highland Park High School in Dallas and played American football on the same team with Doak Walker. He attended the University of Texas at Austin where he was a star baseball pitcher as well as football quarterback. He married a Texas co-ed, Carol Ann Krueger. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1967 and inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1968. The University of Texas Athletic Department has announced plans to retire his college number 22 during the 2008 football season Source

Contents

College career

Easily one of the greatest quarterbacks ever to play for Texas, Layne was selected to four straight All-Southwest Conference teams from 1944-1947. He was one of the first inductees into the Cotton Bowl Hall of Fame. In the 1946 Cotton Bowl Classic, where Texas beat Missouri 40-27, Layne accounted for every point, scoring four touchdowns, kicking four extra points and throwing for two other scores. In 1946, Bobby Layne finished 8th in Heisman Trophy balloting to Glenn Davis of Army and in 1947 he finished 6th to John Lujack of Notre Dame, and was voted the Outstanding Back in the 1948 Sugar Bowl victory over #6 Alabama. Layne finished his Texas career with a school record 3,145 passing yards on 210 completions and 400 attempts. Layne also had success in baseball as a pitcher for Texas as well. In his career as a pitcher he threw two no hitters.

NFL career

Drafted into the National Football League by the Chicago Bears, Layne was the 3rd overall selection in the 1948 NFL Draft and was the 2nd overall selection in the 1948 AAFC Draft by the Baltimore Colts. Layne was offered $77,000 to play for the Baltimore Colts, but George Halas "sweet talked" him into signing with the Chicago Bears. He promised a slow rise to fame in the "big leagues" with a no-trade understanding. After one season, 3rd string quarterback Bobby Layne behind both Sid Luckman and Johnny Lujack refused to return to the Chicago Bears and tried to engineer his own trade to the Green Bay Packers. Halas, preoccupied with fending off a challenge from the AAFC, Halas traded Layne to the New York Bulldogs for their #1 draft pick and $50,000 cash. The cash was to be paid in 4 installments. The team won only 1 game and lost 11, but Layne played well and developed quickly. Layne compared one season with the soon-defunct New York Bulldogs as worth five seasons in the NFL. In 1950 Layne was traded to the Detroit Lions for defensive end Bob Mann, the Detroit Lions also picked up the tab and made the final 3 payments to Halas (Halas would remark later that the Detroit Lions should have continued the yearly payments indefinitely to him in view of Layne's performance).

From 1950-1955, Layne was re-united with his great friend and Highland Park High School teammate Doak Walker. In 1952 Bobby led the Detroit Lions to their 1st NFL Championship in 12 years. Layne would repeat this in 1953 for back to back NFL Championships, but fell a little short of a three-peat when the Detroit Lions lost to the Cleveland Browns in the 1954 NFL Championship Game. In 1957 Layne was leading the Detroit Lions toward another Championship when fate stepped in. In a game late in the season Layne broke his leg in 3 places during a pileup. His replacement, Tobin Rote, finished the season and led the Detroit Lions to victory in the 1957 NFL Championship Game.

During his career, he played for the Chicago Bears (1948), New York Bulldogs (1949), Detroit Lions (1950-1958) and the Pittsburgh Steelers (1958-1962). After retiring from 15 seasons in the NFL, Layne held the career records for both passes attempted(3,700) and completed(1,814), as well as yards gained passing(26,768) and passing touchdowns(196). Layne was not the most gifted or talented person in the NFL at the time, his passes sometimes looked like wounded ducks on the field, but his drive, leadership, and clutch play (he is credited with creating the 2 minute offense) made him invincible. Layne was one of the last players to play in the NFL without a Face Mask[1].

In 2002 former Green Bay Packers general manager Ron Wolf reflected on this trade as one of the best in NFL history. Wolf continued, saying that "Layne was a Hall of Fame player who turned the Lions’ franchise around.".

After football

Immediately following his retirement, Layne served as the Quarterbacks Coach for the Steelers until the 1965 season.

After retirement, Layne stated the biggest disappointment in his football career was having never won a championship for the Pittsburgh Steelers and especially, Art Rooney.

Bobby Layne was known more for his leadership and determination than for pure athletic ability. According to Doak Walker, "Layne never lost a game...time just ran out on him." Layne was voted into the Texas Longhorn Hall of Honor in 1963 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1967. In a special issue in 1995, Sports Illustrated called him "The Toughest Quarterback Who Ever Lived." In 1999, he was ranked number 52 on The Sporting News list of Football's 100 Greatest Players. Layne may not have been among the greatest quarterback in stats, but he was one of the greatest quarterbacks in leadership and bravery. He used to play without a facemask and usually drove himself to the edge of physical endurance.[2]

Layne, often accompanied by Alex Karras, was also famous for his late-night bar-hopping, and his heavy drinking may have led to his death shortly before his 60th birthday. Layne is reported to have stated: "If I'd known I was gonna live this long, I'd have taken a lot better care of myself." That line was later used by baseball legend Mickey Mantle, a Dallas neighbor and friend of Layne's, who also died in part due to alcohol abuse. Layne also suffered from cancer during his last years, but it was not the major factor in his death.

The Curse of Bobby Layne

In 1958, the Lions traded Layne to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Layne responded to the trade by supposedly saying that the Lions would "not win for 50 years," it has been officially confirmed.[3]

As of the end of the 2008 season, it has been 50 years since the trade, and indeed the Lions have not won a championship in that time. Interestingly, the final season of the curse concluded with the worst season in Lions' and NFL history, at 0-16, and shortly after the season free agent and Lions' player from 2006-2008 Corey Smith perished in the Gulf of Mexico, and former QB Jeff Komlo died in a car accident in Greece. During this 50 year period, the Lions have accumulated the worst winning percentage of any team in the NFL. They are one of only three franchises that have been in the NFL since 1970 that have not played in a Super Bowl. (The other teams are the Cleveland Browns and the New Orleans Saints.)[4] The Lions made the playoffs nine times in the last 50 seasons, have one post-season win (1991), and three Division titles (1983, 1991, and 1993). The 1st time the Detroit Lions returned to the playoffs after the Layne era was in 1970. This ended a 13 year drought. The Detroit Lions lost to the Dallas Cowboys 5-0 in what is still the lowest scoring playoff game of all time.

Coincidentally, In the 2009 NFL draft, the Detroit Lions drafted University of Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford #1 overall. He came from Highland Park High School, the same high school as Layne.

References

  1. ^ Giants Among Men, Jack Cavanaugh, p.129, 2008, Random House, ISBN 978-1-4000-6717-6
  2. ^ "Sporting News' Football's 100 Greatest Players". http://archive.sportingnews.com/nfl/100/52.html.  
  3. ^ "Last year of The Curse ends at 0-16." Article at www.curseofbobbylayne.com [1]
  4. ^ "Worst Franchise in Sports." Article at www.motownrevival.blogspot.com, January 20, 2009.

External links

Preceded by
Earl Morrall
Pittsburgh Steelers Starting Quarterbacks
1958-1962
Succeeded by
Ed Brown
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