Greatest Detroit Lions By Number: No. 12
Ranking the greatest Detroit Lions of all time is no easy task to accomplish. From No. 1 all the way up to No. 99, I will attempt to rank the greatest Lions players based on their jersey number. This list now continues with my selection for the best at No. 12.
An undrafted replacement player in the 1987 strike season for the Atlanta Falcons, Erik Kramer was the forgotten and underappreciated quarterback for Detroit’s playoff teams in 1991 and 1993. While high draft picks like Andre Ware and Rodney Peete were expected to start at quaterback, Kramer would end up leading the Lions to their most successful postseason stretch since 1957.
After Peete and Ware failed to establish themselves in 1991, Kramer appeared in 13 games with eight starts. During that stretch, Kramer went 6-2 with 11 touchdowns and eight interceptions, helping Detroit clinch the No. 2 seed in the NFC Playoffs that year. Against the Dallas Cowboys (yes, the same Cowboys team that would later become a dynasty), Kramer went 29 for 38 for 341 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions as the Lions routed Dallas 38-6. The Cinderella run ended the next week as Kramer went 21 for 33 with 249 yards with one touchdown and one interception in a 41-10 rout at the hands of the Super Bowl champion Washington Redskins.
Kramer repeated his 1991 performance in 1993 by going 3-1 as a surprise starter, leading the Lions to their most recent NFC Central division title. Against the Green Bay Packers in the Wildcard round, Kramer went 22 for 31 for 248 yards and one touchdown, but Kramer threw two interceptions and the Packers won 28-24.
Kramer would leave the team in 1994 and sign with the division rival Chicago Bears, gaining some individual success in the Windy City. Kramer will be remembered in the record books as the last Lions quarterback to win a playoff game, and who knows what else he could have done in Detroit if he was the long-term starter instead of free agent flop Scott Mitchell.
Other nominees: Joe Ferguson (1985-87), Gus Frerotte (1999), Errol Mann (1969-76)