Since the Detroit Lions were founded in Portsmouth, Ohio, in 1929, the team has produced a wealth of talent. Since their inception, the Detroit Lions have had some of the greatest defensive backs in NFL history, as well as five Hall of Famers. In many cases, these players spent a decade or more in the city of Detroit, and many of them were integral parts of some of the greatest defenses in NFL history.
Here is a list of 5 of the Best Detroit Lions Defensive Players Of All-Time.
1. Lem Barney
He made his presence felt in his debut NFL game, returning an interception off of Bart Starr for a score in the first quarter, after being selected by the Lions in the second round of 1967’s selection. His rookie season saw him intercept ten passes, three of which he returned for touchdowns, earning him Defensive Rookie of the Year accolades and his first appearance in the Pro Bowl.
2. Jack Christiansen
Christiansen was an All-Decade defensive back selection in the 1950s, twice the league’s leader in interceptions, and twice named to the NFL’s All-Decade team at defensive back. Aside from being a great return player, Christiansen is also tied for the lead in career return touchdowns (11). Aside from being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Christiansen was instrumental in altering the way scouts and teams alike approached defensive backs.
3. Jack Christiansen
During the 1951 NFL Draft, the Lions selected Jack Christiansen 156th overall and selected him as their sixth round pick. For the first two seasons of his NFL career, he led the league in punt-return touchdowns and average yards per punt return. During his career, he scored eight touchdowns on punt returns and was the only player to ever do so twice in a single game in the NFL.
4. Alex Karras
There is no way to know how many quarterback sacks Karras had in his career because the NFL didn’t begin tracking them until 1982 when he was in his fourth Pro Bowl. He was part of a Lions defensive line that scared quarterbacks during his tenure with the team. He was also a crucial component in the Lions’ epic 1962 Thanksgiving Day win over the Packers who were unbeaten.
5. Dick “Night Train” Lane
There are few better defensive backs in football history than “Night Train” Lane. With the “Night Train Necktie” technique, he managed to combine several items that have since been forbidden. When he was a rookie in 1952, he set an NFL record of 14 interceptions by playing off his receiver and then closing in on the ball as it was released, enticing passers into interceptions.