A fourth-round pick by the Lions in the 1982 NFL Draft out of Georgetown, cornerback Bruce McNorton had a solid nine-year career, all with Detroit, and helped the Lions make back-to-back postseason appearances in his first two NFL seasons.
In 1982, McNorton rarely played in what was a strike-shortened season. McNorton would play in only four games that year as the Lions made the playoffs in an expanded playoff field. The Lions would lose their first-round playoff game to the eventual Super Bowl champion Washington Redskins 31-7, but in 1983, McNorton would have the finest season of his career.
McNorton went on to record seven interceptions in only eight starts, which was the most that year for any Detroit Lions defender. The Lions and McNorton would be NFC Central division champions with a 9-7 record in 1983 and again made the postseason. In the 1983 NFC Divisional Playoffs against the San Francisco 49ers, who were led by Hall of Fame head coach Bill Walsh and Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana, Detroit had a chance to defeat the 49ers in San Francisco, but a missed field goal by Eddie Murray with 11 seconds remaining gave the Lions a devastating 24-23 loss.
For the next seven seasons, the Lions and McNorton would fail to reach the postseason. The team would also post zero winning seasons during that stretch, with McNorton’s production dropping as well. McNorton failed to record five or more interceptions for each of those seven seasons and would be out of the NFL for good in 1990.
When all was said and done, McNorton was a starter in Detroit for six of his nine seasons, and is currently tied for 14th in Lions history with 20 career interceptions.
Runner-up: John Wendling (2010-13)
Worthy of Consideration: Kywin Supernaw (1998-2001), Chris Cash (2002-04)
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