Lem Barney

Lemuel Joseph Barney (born September 8, 1945) is a former American football player. A native of Gulfport, Mississippi, he played college football at Jackson State from 1964 to 1966. He was drafted by the Detroit Lions of the National Football League (NFL) and played for the Lions as a cornerback, return specialist, and punter from 1967 to 1977. He was selected as the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in 1967, played in seven Pro Bowls, and was selected as a first-team All-NFL player in 1968 and 1969. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1992. He has also been inducted into the Detroit Lions Hall of Fame, the Jackson State Sports Hall of Fame, the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame, and the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame.

Lem Barney
refer to caption
Lem Barney in 2015
No. 20
Personal information
Born:September 8, 1945 (age 73)
Gulfport, Mississippi
Height:6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Weight:188 lb (85 kg)
Career information
High school:Gulfport (MS) 33rd Avenue
College:Jackson State
NFL Draft:1967 / Round: 2 / Pick: 34
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Interception yards:1,077
Player stats at NFL.com
Player stats at PFR

Early years

Barney was born in Gulfport, Mississippi, in 1945. He attended the 33rd Avenue High School in Gulfport.[1] He played at the quarterback position for his high school football team.[2]

Football career

Jackson State

Barney attended Jackson State University, a historically black university in Jackson, Mississippi. He played college football for the Jackson State Tigers football team from 1964 to 1966 under head coach Rod Paige. He had 26 career interceptions at Jackson State, including nine in 1965 and 11 in 1966. He also had punt averages of 41.7 and 42.5 in those two seasons. Barney was an All-Southwestern Athletic Conference selection three straight years. He was also selected as an All-American by Ebony magazine and the Pittsburgh Courier.[3]

Detroit Lions

Barney was selected by the Detroit Lions in the second round, 34th overall pick, of the 1967 NFL Draft.[1] As a rookie in 1967, Barney appeared in all 14 games as a starting cornerback and led the NFL with 10 interceptions, 232 interception return yards and three interceptions returned for touchdowns.[1] After an injury to Pat Studstill, Barney also took over as the Lions' punter, punting 47 times for an average of 37.4 yards in 1967.[1] On September 17, 1967, in the first quarter of his first NFL game, Barney intercepted the first pass thrown in his direction by Bart Starr and returned it 24 yards for a touchdown.[4][5] In the final game of his rookie season, Barney intercepted three passes within ten minutes and returned one 71 yards for a touchdown.[6][7] At the end of the 1967 season, he was selected by the Associated Press as the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.[8]

After the 1967 season, Barney played in the 1968 Pro Bowl,[9] and in the off-season, he was married and also served six months of active duty in the Navy.[8]

Barney went on to be selected to seven Pro Bowls and was selected as a first-team All-NFL player in 1968 and 1969.[1] During his 11 years in the NFL, Barney had 56 interceptions, 1,011 interception return yards, and seven interceptions returned for touchdowns. He also returned 143 punts for 1,312 yards and three touchdowns as well as 50 kickoff returns for 1,274 yards, including a 98-yard return for touchdown.[1]


In March 1978, as part of a wiretap investigation into international drug smuggling, Barney's voice was heard allegedly discussing cocaine and amphetamines.[10] Although investigators stated that Barney was not the focus of the investigation,[11] the controversy received extensive press attention through the spring of 1978, as Barney was called to testify before a New York grand jury.[12][13]

In August 1978, the Lions placed Barney on the injured waiver list.[14] Barney's efforts to sign with another team were unsuccessful,[15] and he did not play during the 1978 season.[1][16] He was officially released by the Lions in February 1979.[17]

Awards and honors

After retiring as a player, Barney received numerous honors, including the following:


Barney is an accomplished singer who began singing with choirs in his youth and college.[26] He befriended Motown recording artist Marvin Gaye, when Gaye unsuccessfully tried out for the Lions in 1970. Barney and teammate Mel Farr sang background vocals on Gaye's classic 1971 song "What's Going On".[27][28] In 2015, Barney was invited to sing the national anthem at the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony.[26]

Barney also had a brief acting career, beginning with a self-portrayal in the 1968 comedy, Paper Lion. In 1973, he was one of the stars of the blaxploitation biker film, The Black Six.[29]

Family and later years

Barney and his wife, Martha, had a daughter, LaTrece, and a son, Lem III.[30] After retiring from the NFL, Barney worked for many years, starting in 1979, in public affairs for Michigan Consolidated Gas Company.[30] He also worked in the 1980s as a football broadcaster on BET and on pre-season games for the Detroit Lions.[30][31]

In March 1993, after his car crashed into a guardrail on a Detroit freeway, Barney was arrested and charged with driving under the influence and possession of cocaine and marijuana.[32][33][34][35] He was found not guilty of the drug charges following a jury trial in 1994.[36]

In 2006, Barney published an autobiography titled, "The Supernatural: Lem Barney".[37]

He held a public relations post at the Detroit Medical Center starting in 2006. After being fired from that position, he filed an age discrimination lawsuit in 2013.[38] Also in 2013, Barney publicly declared that, in light of revelations about brain injuries resulting from football, he would not play football if he had the chance to live his life over again and predicted that the game of football would be gone in another 20 years.[39]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Lem Barney". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved February 20, 2016.
  2. ^ "Lions Celebrate Lem Barney Day". Detroit Free Press. December 21, 1970. p. 12D.
  3. ^ Jack Berry (July 12, 1967). "Lem Out to Corner Lion-Sized Job". Detroit Free Press. pp. 1D, 4D.
  4. ^ Jack Saylor (September 18, 1967). "Lions Up 17-0 ... but Packers Get a Tie". Detroit Free Press. p. 1D.
  5. ^ a b Jerry Green (July 26, 1992). "Barney a star from the start". Detroit Free Press. pp. 1E, 8E.
  6. ^ "A Cheer for Lions". Detroit Free Press. December 18, 1967. p. 16.
  7. ^ "Barney, Farr Are Lion Stars". Detroit Free Press. December 18, 1967. p. 16.
  8. ^ a b "Detroit Lions' Mel Farr, Lem Barney Are Voted NFL Rookies of the Year". The Express (PA). December 15, 1967. p. 19.
  9. ^ "West Rallies in Pro Bowl". Detroit Free Press. January 22, 1968. p. 10.
  10. ^ "My voice on wiretap, Barney says". Detroit Free Press. March 31, 1978. pp. 1D, 8D.
  11. ^ "Barney isn't focus of N.Y. drug probe". Detroit Free Press. April 1, 1978. p. 1C.
  12. ^ "Cops tapped Barney's phone". Detroit Free Press. March 30, 1978. p. 2D.
  13. ^ Charlie Vincent (May 12, 1978). "Barney testifies in drug case". Detroit Free Press. pp. 1D, 6D.
  14. ^ "Barney through as Lion? Club places 11-year vet on injured waiver list". Detroit Free Press. August 29, 1978. pp. 1D, 2D.
  15. ^ "Barney's regret: 'I never had a championship'". Detroit Free Press. August 30, 1978. p. 5D.
  16. ^ Jack Saylor (November 5, 1978). "Forgotten Barney longs for another shot at NFL". p. 2E.
  17. ^ Curt Sylvester (February 13, 1979). "It's official: Lem Barney is now a free agent". Detroit Free Press. p. 1D.
  18. ^ Jack Saylor (November 2, 1980). "Lions' Lem hauled 'em in, now he's being halled in". Detroit Free Press. p. 2H.
  19. ^ "Hall of Fame". Jackson State University. Archived from the original on April 19, 2015. Retrieved February 20, 2016.
  20. ^ "Full Roster". Michigan Sports Hall of Fame. Retrieved February 20, 2016.
  21. ^ "Hall of Fame". Detroit Free Press. February 21, 1985.
  22. ^ "Lemuel "Lem" Barney". Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum. Retrieved February 20, 2016.
  23. ^ "NFL's 10 All-Time Best Cornerbacks". Detroit Free Press. August 28, 1977. p. 7.
  24. ^ "untitled". Democrat and Chronicle. August 15, 1999.
  25. ^ "Detroit Lions: 20-20-20 vision". Democrat and Chronicle. November 26, 2004. p. 40.
  26. ^ a b "Barney to sing national anthem at Hall of Fame". Detroit Free Press. August 2, 2015. p. C10.
  27. ^ Crowe, Jerry (August 29, 2010). "Marvin Gaye once tried to make it in NFL, with help from Lem Barney, Mel Farr". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 30, 2010.
  28. ^ Justin Tinsley (August 21, 2015). "How Marvin Gaye's NFL tryout changed his career". ESPN.com.
  29. ^ Joe Falls (November 4, 1973). "Great on the Grid, But the 'Black Six' Are Bums on the Screen". Detroit Free Press. p. 8C.
  30. ^ a b c "Lem Barney: Former Lion still carries the ball for many good causes". Detroit Free Press. June 7, 1987. p. 3K.
  31. ^ Joe Lapointe (August 25, 1986). "Barney 'secondary' to none as Lions' pre-season color analyst". Detroit Free Press. p. 1H.
  32. ^ "Lem Barney arrested after car crash: He's uninjured; Ex-Lion faces liquor, cocaine charges". Detroit Free Press. March 20, 1993. p. 3A.
  33. ^ "Barney's friends laud his charitable work". Detroit Free Press. March 23, 1993. pp. 3A, 4A.
  34. ^ "A hero stumbles: No longer 'Supernatural'". Detroit Free Press. March 28, 1993. p. 1.
  35. ^ "No decision on Lem Barney". Detroit Free Press. April 10, 1993. p. 10A.
  36. ^ "Jury clears former Lion". Detroit Free Press. May 6, 1994. p. 1B.
  37. ^ The Supernatural: Lem Barney. Immortal Investments Publishing. 2006. ISBN 0972363734.
  38. ^ L. L. Brasier (March 30, 2013). "Ex-Detroit Lion files discrimination suit against DMC". Detroit Free Press. p. A3.
  39. ^ Mark Snyder (June 14, 2013). "Lem Barney: Football will be gone in 20 years". USA Today.

External links

1967 All-Pro Team

The following is a list of players that were named to the Associated Press All-Pro Team in 1967. Players from the first and second teams are listed, with players from the first team in bold, where applicable.

1967 Detroit Lions season

The 1967 Detroit Lions season was the 38th season in franchise history. On August 5, the Lions played the Denver Broncos in an exhibition game. The Broncos beat the Lions by a score of 13–7 and became the first AFL team to beat an NFL team.The Lions boasted both the NFL's Offensive and Defensive rookies of the year: running back Mel Farr and cornerback Lem Barney.

1968 All-Pro Team

This is a list of players named as All-Pros based on their performance in the 1968 AFL and NFL season. These lists provide a perspective into how players were judged against their peers by critics of their time. Players representing both the National Football League (NFL) and American Football League (AFL) are included.

1968 Detroit Lions season

The 1968 Detroit Lions season was their 39th in the league. The team failed to improve on their previous season's output of 5–7–2, winning only four games. They missed the playoffs for the eleventh straight season.

1968 in Michigan

Events from the year 1968 in Michigan.

The Associated Press (AP) surveyed newspaper editors and broadcasters and determined the top 10 stories in Michigan for 1968 as follows:

The candidacy of Gov. George W. Romney for President of the United States;

The 1968 Detroit Tigers winning the American League pennant and defeating the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1968 World Series;

A newspaper strike that shut down the state's two largest newspapers, the Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News, for nine months;

Gov. Romney's decision to resign as Governor to become United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under Pres. Richard M. Nixon;

The reapportionment and redistricting of the state's county boards to reflect a "one man, one vote" proportionality;

Michigan voters' defeat of a ballot measure to adopt Daylight savings time;

Hubert H. Humphrey's taking Michigan's 21 electoral votes in the United States presidential election, 1968 (Humphrey received 1,593,082 votes (48.18%) to 1,370,665 (41.46%) for Richard M. Nixon and 331,968 (10.04%) for George Wallace);

The Robison family murders, a mass murder on June 25 of six family members while vacationing in their Lake Michigan cottage just north of Good Hart, Michigan;

Two heart transplants performed at the University of Michigan Hospital; and

The adoption a statewide laws for open housing and the protection of tenants' rights.The AP also selected the state's top 10 sports stories as follows:

Mickey Lolich's three victories in the 1968 World Series;

The Detroit Tigers winning the American League pennant for the first time since 1968;

Denny McLain's 31 wins as a pitcher for the Tigers;

Gordie Howe's 700th goal and 1,500th game for the Detroit Red Wings;

Ron Johnson's season, setting an NCAA record with 347 rushing yards in a game and Michigan records with 1,391 rushing yards and 114 points scored during the 1968 season;

The Detroit Lions' acquisition of quarterback Bill Munson and their poor performance during the 1968 season;

Spencer Haywood's transfer to the University of Detroit and his leading a resurgence in the school's basketball fortunes during the 1968-69 season;

The popularity of coho salmon fishing;

Two members of the Detroit Lions, Mel Farr and Lem Barney winning the NFL's offensive and defensive rookie of the year honors; and

The death of Warner Gardner in a crash during the APBA Gold Cup unlimited hydroplane race on September 8 on the Detroit River.

1970 All-Pro Team

The following is a list of players that were named to the Associated Press All-Pro Team, the Newspaper Enterprise Association All-Pro team and the Pro Football Writers Association, and Pro Football Weekly All-Pro teams in 1970. Both first- and second- teams are listed for the NEA, and PFWA teams. These are the four All-Pro teams that are included in the Total Football II: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Football League and compose the consensus All-Pro team for 1970.

1971 Detroit Lions season

The 1971 Detroit Lions season was their 42nd in the league. The team failed to improve on their previous season's output of 10–4, winning only seven games.

Mired in adversity, the 1971 season turned especially tragic for the Lions and the NFL when, during their Week 6 hosting of the Chicago Bears, Lions wide receiver Chuck Hughes collapsed on the playing field. Unresponsive, Hughes was pronounced dead later that day of heart failure. Since 1971, no Detroit player has worn Hughes' #85 jersey save on special permission of the Hughes family.

1972 Detroit Lions season

The 1972 Detroit Lions season was their 43rd in the National Football League (NFL). The team improved on their previous season's output of 7–6–1, winning eight games. The team missed the playoffs for the second straight season. Linebacker Wayne Walker established a new team record for games played at 200. It was also the final season for longtime defensive back Dick LeBeau.

1973 All-Pro Team

The following is a list of players that were named to the Associated Press All-Pro Team, the Newspaper Enterprise Association All-Pro team and the Pro Football Writers Association, and Pro Football Weekly All-Pro teams in 1973. Both first- and second- teams are listed for the AP, NEA, and PFWA teams. These are the four All-Pro teams that are included in the Total Football II: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Football League and compose the Consensus All-pro team for 1973.

1976 Pro Bowl

The 1976 Pro Bowl was the NFL's 26th annual all-star game which featured the outstanding performers from the 1975 season. The game was played on Monday, January 26, 1976, at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana in front of a crowd of 32,108. The final score was NFC 23, AFC 20. It was also the first Pro Bowl game played indoors.

The game featured the best players in the National Football League as selected by the league's coaches. John Madden of the Oakland Raiders led the AFC team against an NFC team led by Los Angeles Rams head coach Chuck Knox.The AFC's Billy "White Shoes" Johnson was named the game's MVP on the strength of a 90-yard punt return touchdown and a second punt return of 55 yards that set up a field goal. The referee was Fred Silva.Players on the winning NFC team received $2,000 apiece while the AFC participants each took home $1,500.

Jackson State Tigers and Lady Tigers

The Jackson State Tigers and Lady Tigers represent Jackson State University, Jackson, Mississippi, in NCAA intercollegiate athletics.

James Hunter (American football)

James Edward Hunter (March 8, 1954 – August 2, 2010) was an American football defensive back who played for the Detroit Lions in the National Football League. Hunter was the 10th player picked in the 1976 NFL Draft. He led the Lions in interceptions in 1976, 1977, and 1980. Hunter is 7th all-time for interceptions in Lions history. His son, Javin Hunter, played for Notre Dame and was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens.

Nicknamed "Hound Dog" for his long-striding running ability, he made an instant impact in the NFL. The 6-foot-2, 195-pound cornerback led the Lions with seven pass interceptions and was runner-up to future Pro Football Hall of Famer Mike Haynes as NFL Rookie Defensive Player of the Year. He got his first start in 1976 at free safety, subbing for another Lions’ great, Dick Jauron who had broken his leg. He shifted to left cornerback in 1977 playing alongside another future Pro Football Hall of Famer, Lem Barney. In his seven seasons with the Lions (1976–82), Hunter led the Lions in three seasons in pass interceptions (1976, ’77 and ’80) and had 27 career interceptions. He played in 86 Lions games before a neck injury sustained late in the 1982 season ended his career.

Hunter, Jimmy "Spiderman" Allen, and David Hill recorded a remake of Queen's hit "Another One Bites the Dust" in 1980.

Jim David (American football)

James Theodoric David (Hatchet, Rebel) (December 2, 1927 – July 29, 2007) was an American football defensive back for the Detroit Lions (1952–1959) in the National Football League. He attended Colorado A&M.

List of National Football League career interceptions leaders

This is the list of National Football League (NFL) players, who have recorded at least 50 interceptions.

Mel Farr

Melvin Farr (November 3, 1944 – August 3, 2015) was an American football player and businessman.

A native of Beaumont, Texas, Farr played college football as a halfback on the 1965 and 1966 UCLA Bruins football teams that were ranked No. 4 and No. 5 respectively in the final AP Polls. He was selected as a consensus first-team All-American in 1966, gained over 1,000 yards from scrimmage in both 1965 and 1966, and was inducted into the UCLA Athletics Hall of Fame in 1988.

Farr was drafted by the Detroit Lions in the first round, seventh overall pick, of the 1967 NFL Draft and played seven years as a running back for the Lions. He led the Lions in both rushing and receiving in 1967, totaling 1,177 yards from scrimmage as a rookie, and was selected as the NFL Rookie of the Year. He was twice selected to play in the Pro Bowl, in 1967 and 1970. In a career shortened by injury, Farr gained a total of 4,446 yards from scrimmage and scored 36 touchdowns during his seven years in the NFL.After retiring from football, Farr acquired a Ford Motor Company dealership in 1975, eventually expanding his business to 11 dealerships in five states. By 1998, Farr's automotive group was cited as the largest African-American owned company in the country. His business failed in 2002 following adverse publicity and lawsuits relating to sales and finance practices.

Miller Farr

Miller Farr Jr. (born April 8, 1943) is a former American football cornerback who played for ten seasons in the American Football League (AFL) and the National Football League (NFL).

He attended Wichita State University, lettering in football and track. In his senior year, he led the nation in kickoff and punt returns. He is a member of a family of athletes and artists, including a brother and cousins, football players Mel Farr, Lem Barney, and Jerry LeVias, and cousin, singer Marvin Gaye.

Miller Farr was a first-round draft choice by the AFL's Denver Broncos in the 1965 Red Shirt draft, then went to the San Diego Chargers for 1965 and 1966. He played defensive back for the Houston Oilers from 1967 through 1969. During the 1967 season, Farr was the AFL co-leader in interceptions with ten (t – Westmoreland, Janik). Despite a bout with hepatitis, he intercepted two passes for touchdowns in one game in 1968. He led the AFL in interception touchdowns that year and was selected All-AFL and All-Pro.

Following the AFL–NFL merger, Farr signed with the St. Louis Cardinals beginning in 1970 where he finished out his NFL career. In 1974, he played with the Florida Blazers of the World Football League.

A three time American Football League All-Star, Farr established an AFL record for the most touchdowns on pass interceptions in a game (2) and tied the AFL record for a season (3). Miller Farr was selected to the All-Time All-AFL second team.

Farr is part of a family full of professional football players. He is the older brother of former NFL player Mel Farr as well as the uncle of former players Mel Farr, Jr. and Mike Farr. He and his brother attended Hebert High School in Beaumont, Texas, and were among 16 pro footballers given the keys to the city in 1971.

National Football League 1960s All-Decade Team

This is a list of National Football League (NFL) players who had outstanding performances throughout the 1960s and have been compiled together into this fantasy group. The team was selected by voters of the Pro Football Hall of Fame at the end of the decade.

The Black Six

The Black Six (1974) is an American blaxploitation and outlaw biker film released in 1974. The movie was written by George Theakos and directed by Matt Cimber. It starred several National Football League stars in the title roles. The plot had some similarities to The Magnificent Seven and Easy Rider. It was one of the first all-black biker films.

What's Going On (Marvin Gaye song)

"What's Going On" is a song by American recording artist Marvin Gaye, released in 1971 on the Motown subsidiary Tamla. Originally inspired by a police brutality incident witnessed by Renaldo "Obie" Benson, the song was composed by Benson, Al Cleveland and Gaye and produced by Gaye himself. The song marked Gaye's departure from the Motown Sound towards more personal material. Later topping the Hot Soul Singles chart for five weeks and crossing over to number two on the Billboard Hot 100, it would sell over two million copies, becoming Gaye's second-most successful Motown song to date.The song topped Detroit's Metro Times list of the 100 Greatest Detroit Songs of All Time, and in 2004, Rolling Stone magazine ranked it the fourth-greatest song of all time; in its updated 2011 list, the song remained at that position. It is included in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll list, along with two other songs by the singer. It was also listed at number fourteen on VH-1's 100 Greatest Rock Songs.

Running backs
Wide receivers /
Tight ends
Pre-modern era
two-way players
Defensive backs
and punters

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