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 for each jersey number. This list continues with my selection for the best at No. 22.
Unquestionably the greatest quarterback in Lions history, Bobby Layne led the Lions for eight seasons to a dominant stretch of football in the 1950s.
In 1952, Layne led Detroit to their first NFL Championship in 17 years after defeating the Cleveland Browns 17-7 as he rushed for one score. Layne also led the Lions to another championship in 1953, again defeating Cleveland 17-16 as he threw for one score. He would once again lead the Lions to the 1954 NFL Championship game, but the Lions were blown out by Cleveland 56-10 as Layne threw six interceptions.
One could say that this game was the ultimate downfall for Layne and the Lions. Detroit would make the postseason three years later in 1957, but after Layne went down with a broken leg late in the season, the Lions would move on to Tobin Rote who led the Lions to an improbable comeback against the San Francisco 49ers in the 1957 playoff tiebreaker and the NFL Championship a week later against the Browns.
Layne would be traded to the Pittsburgh Steelers the following season, and upon his exit, Layne supposedly put a curse on the Lions saying the Lions would “not win for 50 years.” For the next 50 years, the Lions became one of the worst franchises in professional sports, winning only one playoff game and becoming the first 0-16 team in NFL history.
When Layne retired, he was a six-time Pro Bowler, a three-time NFL Champion and a Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee. Layne’s No. 22 will never be worn again as it has been retired by the team.
Other nominees: None