1957 NFL Championship Game

The 1957 National Football League championship game was the 25th annual championship game, held on December 29 at Briggs Stadium in Detroit, Michigan.[1][2][3][4]

The Detroit Lions (8–4), winners of the Western Conference, hosted the Cleveland Browns (9–2–1), champions of the Eastern Conference. Detroit had won the regular season game 20–7 three weeks earlier on December 8, also at Briggs Stadium, but lost quarterback Bobby Layne with a broken right ankle late in the first half.[5][6] Reserve quarterback Tobin Rote, a starter the previous year with Green Bay, filled in for Layne and won that game with Cleveland, the next week at Chicago, and the tiebreaker playoff game at San Francisco.

It was the fourth pairing of the two teams in the championship game; they met previously in 1952, 1953, and 1954. The Browns were favored by three points,[7][8] but the home underdog Lions scored two touchdowns in each quarter and won in a rout, 59–14.[1][2][3][4]

Until 2006, this was the last time that major professional teams from Michigan and Ohio met in a postseason series or game. As of 2018, this was the last playoff game played in the city of Detroit other than Super Bowl XL in 2006. The Lions other two home playoff games since 1957 (1991 and 1993) were played at the Pontiac Silverdome in nearby Pontiac, Michigan.

1957 NFL Championship Game
Cleveland Browns Detroit Lions
14 59
1234 Total
Cleveland Browns 0770 14
Detroit Lions 17141414 59
DateDecember 29, 1957
StadiumBriggs Stadium, Detroit, Michigan
RefereeRon Gibbs
Attendance55,263
TV in the United States
NetworkNBC
AnnouncersVan Patrick, Ken Coleman, Red Grange
Radio in the United States
NetworkNBC, WGAR, WWJ
AnnouncersRay Scott, Bill McColgan
Detroit is located in the United States
Detroit
Detroit
Location in the United States

Starting lineups

Detroit Position Cleveland
OFFENSE
Jim Doran LE Pete Brewster
Lou Creekmur LT Lou Groza
Harley Sewell LG Herschel Forester
Frank Gatski C Art Hunter
Stan Campbell RG Fred Robinson
Ken Russell RT Mike McCormack
Steve Junker RE Preston Carpenter
Tobin Rote QB Tommy O'Connell
Gene Gedman LHB Ray Renfro
Hopalong Cassady RHB Lew Carpenter
John Henry Johnson FB Jim Brown
DEFENSE
Darris McCord LDE Bill Quinlan
Ray Krouse LDT Bob Gain
Gil Mains RDT Don Colo
Gene Cronin RDE Len Ford
Bob Long (linebacker) LLB Galen Fiss
Joe Schmidt MLB Vince Costello
Roger Zatkoff RLB Walt Michaels
Carl Karilivacz DB Junior Wren
Jack Christiansen DB Ken Konz
Yale Lary DB Warren Lahr
Jim David DB Don Paul

Players in the Hall of Fame

Twelve individuals (including coaches and administration) who were involved in this game are members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.[9] Another Lions Hall-of-Famer, QB Bobby Layne, was injured and did not play in the game.

Detroit Lions

Cleveland Browns

Game summary

The home underdog Lions were without starting quarterback Layne due to a broken ankle three weeks earlier against the Browns.[5][6][8] Backup quarterback Tobin Rote filled in admirably following Layne's injury, winning every game, including a 24-point rally in the tiebreaker playoff over the 49ers the previous week.[10] In his eighth season, Rote threw four touchdown passes in the title game, completing 12 of 19 passes for 280 yards, and also ran for a touchdown. Browns quarterbacks Tommy O'Connell and Milt Plum, on the other hand hit on a combined total of 9 of 22 passes for 112 yards. Taking full advantage of a pass interception and a fumble, Detroit ran up a 17–0 lead in the first quarter. Rookie running back Jim Brown gave the Cleveland rooters some hope with a 29-yard touchdown run at the start of the second period.

Things went from bad to worse for the Browns, hampered by injuries to quarterbacks O'Connell and Plum. The Lions romped for 14 points in each of the last three quarters,[2][11] and won by 45 points, 59–14.[1][2][3] In their final six quarters of play (including their previous divisional playoff), the Lions outscored their opponents 83-17.

Scoring summary

Sunday, December 29, 1957
Kickoff: 2:00 p.m. EST[8]

  • First quarter
    • DET – FG Jim Martin, 31 yards, 3–0 DET
    • DET – Tobin Rote 1-yard run (Martin kick), 10–0 DET
    • DET – Gene Gedman 1-yard run (Martin kick), 17–0 DET
  • Second quarter
  • Third quarter
    • CLE – Lew Carpenter 5-yard run (Groza kick), 31–14 DET
    • DET – Jim Doran 78-yard pass from Rote (Martin kick), 38–14 DET
    • DET – Junker 23-yard pass from Rote (Martin kick), 45–14 DET
  • Fourth quarter

Officials

  • Referee: Ron Gibbs
  • Umpire: Joe Connell
  • Head Linesman: Dan Tehan
  • Back Judge: Cleo Diehl
  • Field Judge: Don Looney

The NFL had five game officials in 1957; the line judge was added in 1965 and the side judge in 1978.

Players' shares

The gross receipts for the game, including radio and television rights, were just under US$594,000, the highest to date. Each player on the winning Lions team received $4,295, while Browns players made $2,750 each.[2][3]

Lions' last title

The Lions have not appeared in an NFL championship game (including the Super Bowl) since this title 62 years ago. It was their last postseason appearance until 1970 and their last postseason home game and victory until 1991. That was also the only time the Lions have advanced as far as the Conference Championship game -- losing the NFC Championship Game 41–10 to the Washington Redskins, who went on to win Super Bowl XXVI.

References

  1. ^ a b c Johnson, Chuck (December 30, 1957). "Rote's passes, play calling smash Cleveland, 59 to 14". Milwaukee Journal. p. 7, part 2.
  2. ^ a b c d e Sell, Jack (December 30, 1957). "Lions crush Browns, 59 to 14, to win title". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. p. 18.
  3. ^ a b c d Jones, Eddie T. (December 30, 1957). "Browns show off collapsing defense". Toledo Blade. Ohio. p. 11.
  4. ^ a b Strickler, George (December 30, 1957). "Lions crush Browns, 59-14; win title". Chicago Tribune. p. 1, part 4.
  5. ^ a b "Lions lose Layne but win, 20-7". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Associated Press. December 9, 1957. p. 26.
  6. ^ a b Jones, Eddie T. (December 9, 1957). "Lions roar back into title chase". Toledo Blade. Ohio. p. 18.
  7. ^ a b Strickler, George (December 29, 1957). "Browns 3-point favorites in NFL playoff today". Chicago Tribune. p. 1, part 2.
  8. ^ a b c Lea, Bud (December 29, 1957). "Lions face Browns for pro title". Milwaukee Sentinel. p. 1C.
  9. ^ Ted Maher, Bob Gill (1997). The Pro Football Encyclopedia. New York: Macmillan Inc. ISBN 0-02-861989-7.
  10. ^ "Lions thrilling rally wins playoff, 31-27". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Associated Press. p. 20.
  11. ^ Chuck Heaton, Lions Crush Browns, 59–14, Cleveland Plain Dealer December 29, 1957, Plain Dealer Browns' History Database Accessed December 12, 2007, http://www.cleveland.com/brownshistory/plaindealer/index.ssf?/browns/more/history/19571229BROWNS.html Archived June 17, 2012, at WebCite

[1]

Coordinates: 42°19′55″N 83°04′08″W / 42.332°N 83.069°W

1957 Detroit Lions season

The 1957 Detroit Lions season resulted in the Lions winning their fourth and most recent NFL championship.In the penultimate regular season game with the Cleveland Browns on December 8, hall of fame quarterback Bobby Layne was lost for the season with a broken right ankle. With backup Tobin Rote in at quarterback in the second quarter, the Lions won that game and overcame a ten-point deficit at halftime the following week to defeat the Chicago Bears 21–13, whom they had lost to three weeks earlier at home. They ended the regular season with three consecutive wins and an 8–4 record. All four losses were within the Western Conference, splitting the two games with all but the Green Bay Packers, whom they swept.

Detroit tied with the San Francisco 49ers (8–4) for the conference title, which required a tiebreaker playoff game. Played at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco on December 22, the 49ers entered the game as three point favorites. Down by twenty points in the third quarter, Detroit rallied with a 24–0 run to win 31–27.The Lions were home underdogs for next week the NFL championship game on against Cleveland. Played on December 29 at Briggs Stadium in Detroit, the Lions led 17–0 after the first quarter and won in a rout, 59–14. Through the 2017 season, the Lions have yet to return to the NFL title game (including the Super Bowl), an absence of nearly sixty years. It is the 4th-longest drought in all 4 Sports. Also the 2nd-longest drought in the NFL (Arizona Cardinals 1947).

1957 in Michigan

Events from the year 1957 in Michigan.

The major stories of 1957 in Michigan included: (1) the November 1 opening of the Mackinac Bridge, (2) the adoption of new 10-year highway construction program, and (3) the sudden death of Detroit Mayor Albert Cobo on September 12.

1958 Cleveland Browns season

The 1958 Cleveland Browns season was the team's ninth season with the National Football League.

1958 NFL Championship Game

The 1958 National Football League Championship Game was the 26th NFL championship game, played on December 28 at Yankee Stadium in New York City. It was the first NFL playoff game to go into sudden death overtime. The final score was Baltimore Colts 23, New York Giants 17, and the game has since become widely known as "The Greatest Game Ever Played".It marked the beginning of the NFL's popularity surge, and eventual rise to the top of the United States sports market. A major reason was that the game was televised across the nation by NBC. Baltimore receiver Raymond Berry recorded 12 receptions for 178 yards and a touchdown. His 12 receptions set a championship record that stood for 55 years.

Darris McCord

Darris Paul McCord (January 4, 1933 – October 9, 2013) was an American football player. He played college football for the University of Tennessee where he was selected by the Football Writers Association of America as a first-team All-American tackle in 1954. He played professional football in the National Football League (NFL), principally as a defensive end for the Detroit Lions for 13 years from 1955 to 1967. He was a member of the 1957 Detroit Lions team that won the NFL championship and was selected to play in the Pro Bowl that year. At the time of his retirement, his 168 games with the Lions was a franchise record.

Dave Middleton

David Hinton Middleton (November 23, 1933 – December 29, 2007) was an American football end, wide receiver, and halfback.

A native of Birmingham, Alabama, Middleton played college football as a halfback for the Auburn Tigers in 1953 and 1954. He was also the 1955 Southeastern Conference champion in the 100-yard dash.

He was selected by the Detroit Lions in the first round of the 1955 NFL Draft and played for the Lions in the National Football League (NFL) from 1955 to 1960. As a rookie, he ranked third in the NFL with 44 receptions, and he was the Lions' leading receiver in 1955, 1956, and 1958. He won an NFL championship with the Lions in 1957 and caught a touchdown pass in the 1957 NFL Championship Game. He concluded his NFL career with the Minnesota Vikings in their inaugural season of 1961. In seven NFL seasons, he totaled 183 receptions, 2,966 receiving yards, and 19 touchdowns.Middleton attended medical school while playing for the Lions and had a career as an obstetrician-gynecologist after his football career ended.

George Wilson (American football coach)

George William Wilson, Sr. (February 3, 1914 – November 23, 1978) was a professional football end and later a coach for the National Football League (NFL)'s Detroit Lions and the American Football League (AFL)'s Miami Dolphins. Wilson attended and played football at Northwestern University. He went undrafted in 1937, before being signed by the Chicago Bears. Wilson played for 10 seasons with the Bears, compiling overall record of 111 pass receptions, 1,342 receiving yards, and 15 touchdowns. He was a member of the Bears during their five appearances in the National Football League Championship Game from 1940–1943 and 1946, playing in the 1943 championship. Additionally, he was selected for the NFL All-Star Game from 1940–1942. He also played one season of professional basketball for the Chicago Bruins in 1939–40.

His coaching career began with the Bears in 1947, when he became an assistant coach to George Halas. After just two seasons with Chicago, Wilson left in 1949 for another assistant coaching position with the Detroit Lions, a division rival of the Bears. Prior to the 1957 season, he succeeded Buddy Parker as head coach. In his first year as head coach, Wilson guided Detroit to an 8–4 season and victory in the 1957 NFL Championship Game, the most recent league championship for the Lions. For his efforts, Wilson was awarded the first Associated Press NFL Coach of the Year Award. He remained with the Lions until 1964, though they were unable to replicate their success of 1957. Wilson then served for one year as an assistant coach to the Washington Redskins in 1965. Shortly after the season ended, Miami Dolphins owner Joe Robbie hired Wilson as the first head coach of the new AFL franchise in 1966. His son, George Wilson Jr., was a starting quarterback during the team's first season. Wilson, Sr. was unable to obtain a winning record in his four seasons with Miami. He was fired in February 1970 and replaced by Don Shula.

After being fired as head coach of the Miami Dolphins, Wilson retired from football and entered the construction and real estate business in South Florida. By 1978, he moved back to Michigan, where he died of a heart attack in Detroit on November 23, 1978.

Howard Cassady

Howard Albert "Hopalong" Cassady (born March 2, 1934) is a former professional American football running back. He won the Heisman Trophy in 1955 and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1979. He played professionally in the National Football League (NFL) for eight seasons, seven of them for the Detroit Lions, with whom he won the 1957 NFL Championship Game.

Hugh McElhenny

Hugh Edward McElhenny Jr. (born December 31, 1928) is a former professional American football player who was a halfback in the National Football League (NFL) from 1952 to 1964 for the San Francisco 49ers, Minnesota Vikings, New York Giants, and Detroit Lions. He was noted for his explosive, elusive running style and was frequently called "The King" and "Hurryin' Hugh". A member of San Francisco's famed Million Dollar Backfield and one of the franchise's most popular players, McElhenny's number 39 jersey is retired by the 49ers and he is a member of the San Francisco 49ers Hall of Fame.

McElhenny first rose to stardom as a standout all-around player for Compton Junior College in 1948. He then transferred to the University of Washington, where he was a two-time All-Pacific Coast Conference fullback for the Washington Huskies football team and set several school and conference records. He was drafted by the 49ers with the ninth pick in the 1951 NFL Draft, and his versatility made him an immediate star in the league, earning him five first-team All-Pro honors in his first six seasons. With the 49ers, he was selected for five Pro Bowls, and he earned a sixth Pro Bowl appearance with the Vikings. He finished his career after short stints with the Giants and Lions.

An all-around player who was a threat as a runner and a receiver and also returned kickoffs and punts, McElhenny had amassed the third most all-purpose yards of any player in NFL history when he retired. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1970 and the College Football Hall of Fame in 1981. According to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, "Hugh McElhenny was to pro football in the 1950s and early 1960s what Elvis Presley was to rock and roll," a reference to both his popularity and his nickname.

Jerry Reichow

Garet Neal Reichow (born May 19, 1934) is a former professional American football player. A 6'-3", 220 lbs. tight end from the University of Iowa, Reichow was drafted by the Detroit Lions in the fourth round of the 1956 NFL Draft. He was one of two Minnesota Vikings (along with Hugh McElhenny) selected to the Pro Bowl after their inaugural 1961 season.

An All-Big Ten quarterback, Reichow starred at Iowa. He was the football team’s MVP as a senior and left school as its all-time leader in total offense. The Detroit Lions took notice and selected Reichow, who also played in the 1955 basketball Final Four for Iowa, in the fourth round. Reichow contributed to the Lions’ 1957 NFL title as a receiver and back-up quarterback for Tobin Rote, whom replaced the injured Bobby Layne as starting quarterback. Reichow would see relief duty at quarterback in the 1957 NFL Championship Game, when Rote left the game with the Lions leading 52-14. Three years later, Reichow was a member of the Eagles’ 1960 championship club.

On July 24, 1960, (Walt Kowalczyk) was traded to the Detroit Lions in exchange for Jerry Reichow.[1]

Reichow joined former teammate Norm Van Brocklin who became the Minnesota Vikings first head coach where he was key to quarterback Fran Tarkenton’s success in 1961. Reichow played wide receiver and proved to be the rookie’s favorite target, catching 50 passes for 859 yards and 11 touchdowns. (Reichow’s 11 TD receptions stood 34 years as a single-season team record until broken by Cris Carter in 1995.)

No. 89 followed his Pro Bowl season with 39 receptions before moving to tight end his final years in purple. Known as “Old Reliable” and considered one of the team’s toughest players, Reichow caught a combined 55 passes from his new position in 1963-64.

At the age of 31, and with the team stockpiling young receivers, Reichow’s playing career ended when Van Brocklin cut the highly respected veteran during the 1965 training camp and gave him a job scouting for the club.

Reichow’s opinions and keen eye for talent have helped shaped the Vikings for the majority of their 56 years. The former wide receiver and tight end has served in a variety of personnel roles during his five decades of dedication to the franchise. From scout to Director of Player Personnel to Director of Football Operations to Assistant General Manager for National Scouting to his current consultant role, which he assumed a few years ago, Reichow is one of the longest-serving employees in the NFL. His longevity and success in the fickle “Not For Long” league is all the more impressive considering his background when entering the personnel department in 1965. Jerry Reichow currently resides in Santa Fe, NM with his wife Carolyn Reichow.

Joe Schmidt (American football)

Joseph Paul Schmidt (born January 19, 1932) is a former American football linebacker and coach.

Schmidt played professional football in the National Football League for the Detroit Lions for 13 years from 1953 to 1965. He won two NFL championships with the Lions (1953 and 1957), and, between 1954 and 1963, he played in ten consecutive Pro Bowl games and was selected each year as a first-team All-Pro player. He was also voted by his fellow NFL players as the NFL's most valuable defensive player in 1960 and 1963, named to the NFL 1950s All-Decade Team, and inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1973.

From 1967 to 1972, Schmidt was the head coach of the Detroit Lions. In six years under Schmidt, the Lions compiled a 43–34–7 record and finished in second place each year from 1969 to 1972. After retiring from the Lions, Schmidt worked as a manufacturer's representative in the automobile industry in Detroit.

A native of Pittsburgh, he played college football for the University of Pittsburgh Panthers team from 1950 to 1952. He was selected by the International News Service as a first-team All-American in 1952 and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2000.

John Henry Johnson

John Henry Johnson (November 24, 1929 – June 3, 2011) was a gridiron football running back known for his excellence at the fullback position as both a runner and a blocker. His first professional stint was in Canada in the Western Interprovincial Football Union (WIFU) for one season with the Calgary Stampeders. He then played in the National Football League (NFL) for the San Francisco 49ers, Detroit Lions, and Pittsburgh Steelers before spending his final season in the American Football League (AFL) with the Houston Oilers. Commonly referred to as simply John Henry, an allusion to the folk hero of the same name, Johnson was a tough and tenacious player who performed at a high level well into the tail end of his career.

After playing college football for St. Mary's College of California and Arizona State, Johnson was selected in the second round of the 1953 NFL Draft by the Steelers, the 18th overall pick. He instead played one season of Canadian football for the Stampeders, in which he won the Jeff Nicklin Memorial Trophy as the league's most valuable player. He then signed with the 49ers, and played left halfback in San Francisco's famed "Million Dollar Backfield". He was traded to Detroit in 1957, and became the team's leading rusher en route to that year's NFL championship, their most recent.

His abilities seemingly in decline, Johnson was traded to Pittsburgh in 1960, where he had the most productive years of his career, recording two 1,000-yard rushing seasons. He remains the oldest player to record a 1,000-yard rushing season as well as the oldest to rush for 200 or more yards in a game, each at age 34. A four-time Pro Bowl selection, Johnson ranked third on the NFL's all-time rushing yards list when he retired, but was best remembered by his peers for the mark he left with his blocking. He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1987.

Len Ford

Leonard Guy Ford Jr. (February 18, 1926 – March 14, 1972) was an American football player from 1944 to 1958. He played college football for the University of Michigan and professional football for the Los Angeles Dons, Cleveland Browns and Green Bay Packers. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1976 and the University of Michigan Athletic Hall of Honor in 1996.

Ford was an all-city athlete at his high school in Washington, D.C., and attended Morgan State University after graduating in 1944. After a brief stint in the U.S. Navy the following year, he transferred to Michigan, where he played on the Michigan Wolverines football team as an offensive and defensive end. He played for Michigan from 1945 to 1947 and was a member of the undefeated 1947 team that has been selected as the best team in the history of Michigan football.

Ford was passed over in all 32 rounds of the 1948 NFL Draft, but was selected by the Los Angeles Dons of the rival All-America Football Conference (AAFC), where he played for two seasons as an offensive and defensive end. After the AAFC dissolved in 1949, Ford played eight seasons as a defensive end for the Cleveland Browns. During those eight seasons, the Browns advanced to the NFL championship game seven times, won three championships, and allowed the fewest points in the NFL six times. Ford was one of the dominant defensive players of his era, having a rare combination of size and speed that helped him disrupt opposing offenses and force fumbles. He was selected as a first-team All-NFL player five times and played in four Pro Bowls.

Ford was traded to the Packers in 1958, but played there just one season before retiring. He worked for the Detroit recreation department from 1963 to 1972. He suffered a heart attack and died in 1972 at age 46.

List of NFL franchise post-season droughts

This is a list of current National Football League (NFL) franchise post-season and Super Bowl droughts (multiple consecutive seasons of not winning). Listed here are both appearance droughts and winning droughts in almost every level of the NFL playoff system.

As of the 2018 NFL season, every active NFL team has qualified for, and won a game in, the playoffs at least once. Teams that have never made it beyond each successive milestone are listed under the year in which they began NFL play.

Of the 12 teams that have never won the Super Bowl, four (4) are expansion franchises younger than the Super Bowl itself (Bengals, Panthers, Jaguars, and the Texans). The Falcons began playing during the season in which the Super Bowl was first played. The seven (7) other clubs (Cardinals, Lions, Oilers/Titans, Chargers, Browns, Bills, and Vikings) all won an NFL or AFL championship prior to the AFL–NFL merger; in the case of the Vikings, however, the Super Bowl existed at the time they won their league title, leaving them and the Falcons as the only two teams to have existed for as long as or longer than the Super Bowl that have never secured the highest championship available to them. The longest drought since a championship of any kind is that of the Cardinals, at 71 seasons.

Note that for continuity purposes, the Cleveland Browns are officially considered to have suspended operations for the 1996, 1997 and 1998 seasons, Since returning 19 years ago, they have only made the playoffs once, while the Baltimore Ravens are considered to be a separate team that began play in 1996. The Ravens, as a result of the Cleveland Browns relocation controversy, absorbed the Browns' personnel upon their suspension, but not their history.

NFC Championship Game

The NFC Championship Game is the annual championship game of the National Football Conference (NFC) and one of the two semi-final playoff games of the National Football League (NFL), the largest professional American football league in the United States. The game is played on the penultimate Sunday in January by the two remaining playoff teams, following the NFC postseason's first two rounds. The NFC champion then advances to face the winner of the American Football Conference (AFC) Championship Game in the Super Bowl.

The game was established as part of the 1970 merger between the NFL and the American Football League (AFL), with the merged league realigning into two conferences. Since 1984, each winner of the NFC Championship Game has also received the George Halas Trophy, named after the founder and longtime owner of the NFL's Chicago Bears, George Halas.

Ray Scott (sportscaster)

Ray Scott (June 17, 1919 – March 23, 1998) was an American sportscaster, best known for his broadcasts for the Green Bay Packers of the National Football League. His brother Hal Scott was also a sportscaster.

Steve Junker

Steven Norbert Junker (born July 22, 1935) is a former American football player. He played in the National Football League (NFL) for the Detroit Lions (1957, 1959–1960) and the Washington Redskins (1961–1962). As a rookie, he caught eight passes for 95 yards and a touchdowns in the Lions' divisional playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers. He also had two touchdown catches in the Lions' victory over the Cleveland Browns in the 1957 NFL Championship Game. He missed the 1958 season after sustaining a knee injury and never fully recovered from his knee injuries.

Junker also played college football at Xavier University from 1953 to 1956. In 1956, he was inducted into Xavier's "Legion of Honor" and was selected as a second-team end on the Associated Press' small college All-America football team and a first-team player on the International News Service's All-Ohio team. He was also selected to play in the 1956 East–West Shrine Game and the August 1957 Chicago College All-Star Game.

Tommy O'Connell

Thomas B. O'Connell (September 26, 1930 – March 20, 2014) was an American collegiate and professional football quarterback who played in three NFL seasons, in 1953 for the Chicago Bears and in 1956 and 1957 for the Cleveland Browns and in two American Football League seasons, 1960 and 1961, for the Buffalo Bills. He attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Class of 1953, where he was a member of the Chi Phi Fraternity.

He started for the Cleveland Browns in the 1957 NFL Championship Game while coming off a severely sprained ankle and a hairline fracture of the fibula. He retired from football after the 1957 season to go into coaching, but was lured back to the playing field when the American Football League started play in 1960. He is the father of former professional ice hockey player and general manager Mike O'Connell. He died March 20, 2014, aged 83.

Yale Lary

Robert Yale Lary Sr. (November 24, 1930 – May 11, 2017) was an American football player, businessman, and politician.

He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1979 and was also selected for the NFL 1950s All-Decade Team. He has also been inducted into the Texas A&M Athletic Hall of Fame, the Texas Sports Hall of Fame, and the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame.

Lary played 11 seasons in the National Football League (NFL), all with the Detroit Lions, from 1952 to 1953 and from 1956 to 1964, missing the 1954 and 1955 seasons due to military service as an Army second lieutenant in Korea. He played at the safety, punter, and return specialist positions, appeared in nine Pro Bowl games, and was a first-team All-NFL player five times. He led the NFL in punting three times, and at the time of his retirement in 1964, his 44.3 yard punting average ranked second in NFL history, trailing only Sammy Baugh. He also totaled 50 NFL interceptions for 787 return yards, both of which ranked fifth in NFL history at the time of his retirement.

A native of Fort Worth, Texas, Lary played college football at Texas A&M University from 1949 to 1951 and was selected as a first-team defensive back on the 1951 All-Southwest Conference football team. He also played baseball at Texas A&M, led his team to the 1951 College World Series, and set a Southwest Conference record for doubles.

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