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Bobby Layne

Bobby Layne

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Robert Lawrence "Bobby" Layne (December 19, 1926 – December 1, 1986) was an American football
American football
American football is a sport played between two teams of eleven with the objective of scoring points by advancing the ball into the opposing team's end zone. Known in the United States simply as football, it may also be referred to informally as gridiron football. The ball can be advanced by...

 quarterback
Quarterback
Quarterback is a position in American and Canadian football. Quarterbacks are members of the offensive team and line up directly behind the offensive line...

 who played for 15 seasons in the National Football League
National Football League
The National Football League is the highest level of professional American football in the United States, and is considered the top professional American football league in the world. It was formed by eleven teams in 1920 as the American Professional Football Association, with the league changing...

. He played for the Chicago Bears
Chicago Bears
The Chicago Bears are a professional American football team based in Chicago, Illinois. They are members of the North Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League...

 in 1948
1948 NFL season
The 1948 NFL season was the 29th regular season of the National Football League. During the season, Halfback Fred Gehrke painted horns on the Los Angeles Rams' helmets, making the first modern helmet emblem in pro football. The season ended when the Philadelphia Eagles defeated the Chicago...

, the New York Bulldogs in 1949
1949 NFL season
The 1949 NFL season was the 30th regular season of the National Football League. Prior to the season, Boston Yanks owner Ted Collins asked the league to fold his team due to financial woes, and give him a new one in New York City...

, the Detroit Lions
Detroit Lions
The Detroit Lions are a professional American football team based in Detroit, Michigan. They are members of the North Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League , and play their home games at Ford Field in Downtown Detroit.Originally based in Portsmouth, Ohio and...

 from 1950
1950 NFL season
The 1950 NFL season was the 31st regular season of the National Football League. The merger with the All-America Football Conference expanded the league to 13 teams. Meanwhile, television brought a new era to the game. The Los Angeles Rams became the first NFL team to have all of its games – both...

1958
1958 NFL season
The 1958 NFL season was the 39th regular season of the National Football League.The Baltimore Colts defeated the New York Giants, 23–17, in the first sudden-death overtime in an NFL Championship Game...

, and the Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh Steelers
The Pittsburgh Steelers are a professional football team based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The team currently belongs to the North Division of the American Football Conference in the National Football League . Founded in , the Steelers are the oldest franchise in the AFC...

 from 1958
1958 NFL season
The 1958 NFL season was the 39th regular season of the National Football League.The Baltimore Colts defeated the New York Giants, 23–17, in the first sudden-death overtime in an NFL Championship Game...

1962
1962 NFL season
The 1962 NFL season was the 43rd regular season of the National Football League. Before the season, CBS signed a contract with the league to televise all regular-season games for a $4.65 million annual fee....

. He was drafted by the Bears in the first round of the 1948 NFL Draft
1948 NFL Draft
The 1948 National Football League Draft was held on December 19, 1947 at the Fort Pitt Hotel in Pittsburgh.-Player selections:-Round one:-Round two:-Round three:-Round four:-Round five:-Round six:-Round seven:-Round eight:...

. He played college football
College football
College football refers to American football played by teams of student athletes fielded by American universities, colleges, and military academies, or Canadian football played by teams of student athletes fielded by Canadian universities...

 at the University of Texas
Texas Longhorns football
The Texas Longhorns football program is the intercollegiate football team representing The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas. The team currently competes in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision as a member of the Big 12 Conference which is a Division I Bowl Subdivision of the National...

.

He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame
Pro Football Hall of Fame
The Pro Football Hall of Fame is the hall of fame of professional football in the United States with an emphasis on the National Football League . It opened in Canton, Ohio, on September 7, 1963, with 17 charter inductees...

 in 1967 and inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame
College Football Hall of Fame
The College Football Hall of Fame is a hall of fame and museum devoted to college football. Located in South Bend, Indiana, it is connected to a convention center and situated in the city's renovated downtown district, two miles south of the University of Notre Dame campus. It is slated to move...

 in 1968. His number, 22, has been retired by the University of Texas Longhorns
Texas Longhorns football
The Texas Longhorns football program is the intercollegiate football team representing The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas. The team currently competes in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision as a member of the Big 12 Conference which is a Division I Bowl Subdivision of the National...

 and Detroit Lions
Detroit Lions
The Detroit Lions are a professional American football team based in Detroit, Michigan. They are members of the North Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League , and play their home games at Ford Field in Downtown Detroit.Originally based in Portsmouth, Ohio and...

.

Early years


Layne was born in Santa Anna, Texas
Santa Anna, Texas
Santa Anna is a town in Coleman County, Texas, United States. The population was 1,081 at the 2000 census.-Geography:Santa Anna is located at ....

 and attended Highland Park High School
Highland Park High School (University Park, Texas)
Highland Park High School is located in University Park, Texas.Highland Park is a part of the Highland Park Independent School District. It serves all of the city of University Park, most of the town of Highland Park, and portions of Dallas.-History:...

 in Dallas
Dallas, Texas
Dallas is the third-largest city in Texas and the ninth-largest in the United States. The Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex is the largest metropolitan area in the South and fourth-largest metropolitan area in the United States...

. He played football
High school football
High school football, in North America, refers to the game of football as it is played in the United States and Canada. It ranks among the most popular interscholastic sports in both of these nations....

 with teammate Doak Walker
Doak Walker
Ewell Doak Walker, Jr. was an American football player who is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was a teammate of Bobby Layne in high school and the NFL.-Early life:...

.

College career


One of the greatest quarterbacks ever to play for Texas, Layne was selected to four straight All-Southwest Conference teams from 1944-1947. He was one of the first inductees into the Cotton Bowl Hall of Fame. In the 1946 Cotton Bowl Classic, where Texas beat Missouri
Missouri Tigers football
The Missouri Tigers football team represents the University of Missouri in NCAA Division I FBS college football. The team has competed in the North Division of the Big 12 Conference since the conference's inception in 1996...

 40-27, Layne accounted for every point, scoring four touchdowns, kicking four extra points and throwing for two other scores. In 1946, Layne finished 8th in Heisman Trophy
Heisman Trophy
The Heisman Memorial Trophy Award , is awarded annually to the player deemed the most outstanding player in collegiate football. It was created in 1935 as the Downtown Athletic Club trophy and renamed in 1936 following the death of the Club's athletic director, John Heisman The Heisman Memorial...

 balloting to Glenn Davis of Army
United States Military Academy
The United States Military Academy at West Point is a four-year coeducational federal service academy located at West Point, New York. The academy sits on scenic high ground overlooking the Hudson River, north of New York City...

 and in 1947 he finished 6th to John Lujack
Johnny Lujack
John Christopher Lujack Jr. is a former American football quarterback and 1947 Heisman Trophy winner.Lujack was born on January 4, 1925, in Connellsville, Pennsylvania. He played college football for the University of Notre Dame, and professionally for the Chicago Bears. Lujack was the first of...

 of Notre Dame
Notre Dame Fighting Irish football
Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team is the football team of the University of Notre Dame. The team is currently coached by Brian Kelly.Notre Dame competes as an Independent at the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision level, and is a founding member of the Bowl Championship Series coalition. It is an...

, and was voted the Outstanding Back in the 1948 Sugar Bowl
Sugar Bowl
The Sugar Bowl is an annual American college football bowl game played in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Sugar Bowl has been played annually since January 1, 1935, and celebrated its 75th anniversary on January 2, 2009...

 victory over #6 Alabama
Alabama Crimson Tide football
|TeamName = Alabama football |Image = Alabama Crimson Tide Logo.svg |ImageSize = 110 |Helmet = Alabama Football.png |ImageSize2 = 150 |CurrentSeason = 2011 Alabama Crimson Tide football team...

. Layne finished his Texas career with a school record 3,145 passing yards on 210 completions and 400 attempts. Layne also had success in baseball as a pitcher for Texas as well. In his career as a pitcher he threw two no hitters.

Professional career


Drafted into the National Football League
National Football League
The National Football League is the highest level of professional American football in the United States, and is considered the top professional American football league in the world. It was formed by eleven teams in 1920 as the American Professional Football Association, with the league changing...

 by the Chicago Bears
Chicago Bears
The Chicago Bears are a professional American football team based in Chicago, Illinois. They are members of the North Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League...

, Layne was the 3rd overall selection in the 1948 NFL Draft
1948 NFL Draft
The 1948 National Football League Draft was held on December 19, 1947 at the Fort Pitt Hotel in Pittsburgh.-Player selections:-Round one:-Round two:-Round three:-Round four:-Round five:-Round six:-Round seven:-Round eight:...

 and was the 2nd overall selection in the 1948 AAFC
All-America Football Conference
The All-America Football Conference was a professional American football league that challenged the established National Football League from 1946 to 1949. One of the NFL's most formidable challengers, the AAFC attracted many of the nation's best players, and introduced many lasting innovations...

 Draft by the Baltimore Colts
Baltimore Colts (1947-50)
The Baltimore Colts were a professional American football team based in Baltimore, Maryland. The first team to bear the name Baltimore Colts, they were members of the All-America Football Conference from 1947–1949, and then joined the National Football League for one season before folding...

. Layne was offered $77,000 to play for the Colts, but George Halas
George Halas
George Stanley Halas, Sr. , nicknamed "Papa Bear" and "Mr. Everything", was a player, coach, owner and pioneer in professional American football. He was the iconic longtime leader of the NFL's Chicago Bears...

 "sweet talked" him into signing with the Bears. He promised a slow rise to fame in the "big leagues" with a no-trade understanding. After one season, Layne was the third-string quarterback, behind both Sid Luckman
Sid Luckman
Sidney Luckman, known as Sid Luckman, was an American football quarterback for the Chicago Bears of the National Football League from 1939 to 1950...

 and Johnny Lujack
Johnny Lujack
John Christopher Lujack Jr. is a former American football quarterback and 1947 Heisman Trophy winner.Lujack was born on January 4, 1925, in Connellsville, Pennsylvania. He played college football for the University of Notre Dame, and professionally for the Chicago Bears. Lujack was the first of...

, and refused to return to the Bears and tried to engineer his own trade to the Green Bay Packers
Green Bay Packers
The Green Bay Packers are an American football team based in Green Bay, Wisconsin. They are members of the North Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League . The Packers are the current NFL champions...

. Halas, preoccupied with fending off a challenge from the AAFC
All-America Football Conference
The All-America Football Conference was a professional American football league that challenged the established National Football League from 1946 to 1949. One of the NFL's most formidable challengers, the AAFC attracted many of the nation's best players, and introduced many lasting innovations...

, traded Layne to the New York Bulldogs
New York Yanks
The New York Yanks American football team played in the National Football League under that name in the 1950 and 1951 seasons. In 1949, Boston Yanks owner Ted Collins had requested the NFL to fold his Boston team and give him a new one in New York City...

 for their #1 draft pick and $50,000 cash. The cash was to be paid in four installments. The team won only one game and lost 11, but Layne played well and developed quickly. Layne compared one season with the soon-defunct New York Bulldogs as worth five seasons in the NFL. In 1950, Layne was traded to the Detroit Lions
Detroit Lions
The Detroit Lions are a professional American football team based in Detroit, Michigan. They are members of the North Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League , and play their home games at Ford Field in Downtown Detroit.Originally based in Portsmouth, Ohio and...

 for defensive end
Defensive end
Defensive end is the name of a defensive position in the sport of American and Canadian football.This position has designated the players at each end of the defensive line, but changes in formations have substantially changed how the position is played over the years...

 Bob Mann
Bob Mann (American football)
Robert "Bob" Mann was an American football end. A native of New Bern, North Carolina, Mann played college football at Hampton Institute in 1942 and 1943 and at the University of Michigan in 1944, 1946 and 1947. He broke the Big Ten Conference record for receiving yardage in 1946 and again in 1947...

. The Lions also picked up the tab and made the final three payments to Halas (Halas would remark later that the Lions should have continued the yearly payments indefinitely to him in view of Layne's performance).

From 1950-1955, Layne was re-united with his great friend and Highland Park High School teammate Doak Walker
Doak Walker
Ewell Doak Walker, Jr. was an American football player who is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was a teammate of Bobby Layne in high school and the NFL.-Early life:...

. In 1952, Bobby led the Detroit Lions to their first NFL Championship
NFL Championship Game, 1952
The 1952 National Football League championship game was the 20th annual championship game. The NFL title game was held on December 28, 1952 at Cleveland Municipal Stadium, Cleveland, Ohio....

 in 17 years. Layne would repeat this in 1953 for back to back NFL Championships
NFL Championship Game, 1953
The 1953 National Football League championship game was the 21st annual championship game. The NFL title game was held on December 27, 1953 at Briggs Stadium, Detroit, Michigan. The game was a rematch to the 1952 game between the Detroit Lions and Cleveland Browns.The Detroit Lions had finished...

, but fell short of a three-peat when the Detroit Lions lost to the Cleveland Browns
Cleveland Browns
The Cleveland Browns are a professional football team based in Cleveland, Ohio. They are currently members of the North Division of the American Football Conference in the National Football League...

 in the 1954 NFL Championship Game
NFL Championship Game, 1954
The 1954 National Football League championship game was the 22nd annual championship game. The NFL title game was held on December 26, 1954, at Cleveland Municipal Stadium, Cleveland, Ohio. This was the third straight title game between the Detroit Lions and the Cleveland Browns.The Detroit Lions...

. In 1957, Layne was leading the Lions toward another Championship when fate stepped in. In a game late in the season Layne broke his leg in three places during a pileup. His replacement, Tobin Rote
Tobin Rote
Tobin Cornelius Rote was an American college and professional football player who played quarterback for the NFL's Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions, the Canadian Football League's Toronto Argonauts, and the American Football League's San Diego Chargers and Denver Broncos.-Early life:Rote...

, finished the season and led the Lions to victory in the 1957 NFL Championship Game
NFL Championship Game, 1957
The 1957 National Football League championship game was the 25th annual championship game. The NFL title game was held on December 29, 1957 at Briggs Stadium, Detroit, Michigan. The game was the fourth pairing of the Detroit Lions and Cleveland Browns in the championship game...

.

During his career, Layne played for the Chicago Bears
Chicago Bears
The Chicago Bears are a professional American football team based in Chicago, Illinois. They are members of the North Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League...

 (1948), New York Bulldogs (1949), Detroit Lions
Detroit Lions
The Detroit Lions are a professional American football team based in Detroit, Michigan. They are members of the North Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League , and play their home games at Ford Field in Downtown Detroit.Originally based in Portsmouth, Ohio and...

 (1950–1958) and the Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh Steelers
The Pittsburgh Steelers are a professional football team based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The team currently belongs to the North Division of the American Football Conference in the National Football League . Founded in , the Steelers are the oldest franchise in the AFC...

 (1958–1962). After retiring from 15 seasons in the NFL, Layne held the career records for both passes attempted (3,700) and completed(1,814), as well as yards gained passing (26,768) and passing touchdowns (196). Layne was not the most gifted or talented person in the NFL at the time, his passes sometimes looked like wounded ducks on the field, but his drive, leadership, and clutch play (he is credited with creating the two-minute offense) made him great. Layne was one of the last players to play in the NFL without a facemask
The Helmet Project
The Helmet Project is a website which illustrates the evolution of the gridiron football helmets since 1960. This year was chosen as a cut-off point as hard-shell helmets had fully replaced obsolete leather headgear by this point, plus there are very few color photographs that illustrate football...

.

After football


After retirement, Layne stated the biggest disappointment in his football career was having never won a championship for the Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh Steelers
The Pittsburgh Steelers are a professional football team based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The team currently belongs to the North Division of the American Football Conference in the National Football League . Founded in , the Steelers are the oldest franchise in the AFC...

 and especially, Art Rooney
Art Rooney
Arthur Joseph "Art" Rooney, Sr. , often referred to as "The Chief", was the founding owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers American football franchise in the National Football League.-Family history:...

. Layne did serve as an assistant coach for the Steelers after his retirement on the staff of Buddy Parker
Buddy Parker
Raymond "Buddy" Parker is a former football player and coach in the National Football League who served as head coach for three teams: the Chicago Cardinals, the Detroit Lions and the Pittsburgh Steelers....

.

Layne was known more for his leadership and determination than for pure athletic ability. According to Doak Walker
Doak Walker
Ewell Doak Walker, Jr. was an American football player who is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was a teammate of Bobby Layne in high school and the NFL.-Early life:...

, "Layne never lost a game...time just ran out on him." Layne was voted into the Texas Longhorn Hall of Honor in 1963 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame
Pro Football Hall of Fame
The Pro Football Hall of Fame is the hall of fame of professional football in the United States with an emphasis on the National Football League . It opened in Canton, Ohio, on September 7, 1963, with 17 charter inductees...

 in 1967. In a special issue in 1995, Sports Illustrated
Sports Illustrated
Sports Illustrated is an American sports media company owned by media conglomerate Time Warner. Its self titled magazine has over 3.5 million subscribers and is read by 23 million adults each week, including over 18 million men. It was the first magazine with circulation over one million to win the...

 called him "The Toughest Quarterback Who Ever Lived." In 1999, he was ranked number 52 on the Sporting News list of Football's 100 Greatest Players. Layne may not have been among the greatest quarterback in stats, but he was one of the greatest quarterbacks in leadership and bravery. He used to play without a facemask and usually drove himself to the edge of physical endurance.

Layne, often accompanied by Alex Karras
Alex Karras
Alexander George "Alex" Karras , nicknamed "The Mad Duck", is a former football player, professional wrestler, and actor, best known for his stint with the Detroit Lions of the National Football League from 1958–1962 and 1964-1970 and for his role as Mongo in the film Blazing Saddles...

, was also famous for his late-night bar-hopping
Pub crawl
A pub crawl is the act of one or more people drinking in multiple pubs or bars in a single night, normally walking or busing to each one between drinking.-Origin of the term:...

, and his heavy drinking may have led to his death shortly before his 60th birthday. Layne is reported to have stated: "If I'd known I was gonna live this long, I'd have taken a lot better care of myself." That line was later used by baseball legend Mickey Mantle
Mickey Mantle
Mickey Charles Mantle was an American professional baseball player. Mantle is regarded by many to be the greatest switch hitter of all time, and one of the greatest players in baseball history. Mantle was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1974.Mantle was noted for his hitting...

, a Dallas neighbor and friend of Layne's, who also died in part due to alcohol abuse. Layne also suffered from cancer
Cancer
Cancer , known medically as a malignant neoplasm, is a large group of different diseases, all involving unregulated cell growth. In cancer, cells divide and grow uncontrollably, forming malignant tumors, and invade nearby parts of the body. The cancer may also spread to more distant parts of the...

 during his last years, which may have been a factor in his death.

The Curse of Bobby Layne


In 1958, the Lions traded Layne to the Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh Steelers
The Pittsburgh Steelers are a professional football team based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The team currently belongs to the North Division of the American Football Conference in the National Football League . Founded in , the Steelers are the oldest franchise in the AFC...

. Layne responded to the trade by supposedly saying that the Lions would "not win for 50 years". This story has been disputed as being a hoax
Hoax
A hoax is a deliberately fabricated falsehood made to masquerade as truth. It is distinguishable from errors in observation or judgment, or rumors, urban legends, pseudosciences or April Fools' Day events that are passed along in good faith by believers or as jokes.-Definition:The British...

, particularly because the quote was never published at the time.

Still, for the next 50 years after the trade, the Lions accumulated the worst winning percentage of any team in the NFL. They are still one of only two franchises that have been in the NFL since 1970 that have not played in a Super Bowl
Super Bowl
The Super Bowl is the championship game of the National Football League , the highest level of professional American football in the United States, culminating a season that begins in the late summer of the previous calendar year. The Super Bowl uses Roman numerals to identify each game, rather...

  (the other team is the Cleveland Browns
Cleveland Browns
The Cleveland Browns are a professional football team based in Cleveland, Ohio. They are currently members of the North Division of the American Football Conference in the National Football League...

). The Lions only made the playoffs nine times in those last 50 seasons, have one post-season win (1991), and three Division
NFC North
The NFC North is a division of the National Football League's National Football Conference, based in the Upper Midwest region of the United States...

 titles (1983, 1991, and 1993). The 1st time the Detroit Lions returned to the playoffs after the Layne era was in 1970. This ended a 13-year drought, but the team lost to the Dallas Cowboys
Dallas Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys are a professional American football franchise which plays in the Eastern Division of the National Football Conference of the National Football League . They are headquartered in Valley Ranch in Irving, Texas, a suburb of Dallas...

, 5-0, in what is still the lowest scoring playoff game of all time. The 2008 season, the supposed final year of the curse, saw Detroit finish with a winless 0-16 record, the worst in NFL history.

Coincidentally, in the 2009 NFL Draft
2009 NFL Draft
The 2009 NFL Draft was the seventy-fourth annual meeting of National Football League franchises to select newly eligible football players. The draft took place at Radio City Music Hall in New York City on April 25 and 26, 2009. The draft consisted of two rounds on the first day starting at 4:00...

, right after the curse supposedly expired, the Detroit Lions drafted University of Georgia
University of Georgia
The University of Georgia is a public research university located in Athens, Georgia, United States. Founded in 1785, it is the oldest and largest of the state's institutions of higher learning and is one of multiple schools to claim the title of the oldest public university in the United States...

 quarterback Matthew Stafford
Matthew Stafford
John Matthew Stafford is an American football quarterback for the Detroit Lions of the National Football League. He was drafted by the Lions first overall in the 2009 NFL Draft. He played college football at the University of Georgia....

 first-overall. He came from Highland Park High School
Highland Park High School (University Park, Texas)
Highland Park High School is located in University Park, Texas.Highland Park is a part of the Highland Park Independent School District. It serves all of the city of University Park, most of the town of Highland Park, and portions of Dallas.-History:...

, the same high school as Layne. Stafford also lived in a house on the same street as Layne's.

External links



Robert Lawrence "Bobby" Layne (December 19, 1926 – December 1, 1986) was an American football
American football
American football is a sport played between two teams of eleven with the objective of scoring points by advancing the ball into the opposing team's end zone. Known in the United States simply as football, it may also be referred to informally as gridiron football. The ball can be advanced by...

 quarterback
Quarterback
Quarterback is a position in American and Canadian football. Quarterbacks are members of the offensive team and line up directly behind the offensive line...

 who played for 15 seasons in the National Football League
National Football League
The National Football League is the highest level of professional American football in the United States, and is considered the top professional American football league in the world. It was formed by eleven teams in 1920 as the American Professional Football Association, with the league changing...

. He played for the Chicago Bears
Chicago Bears
The Chicago Bears are a professional American football team based in Chicago, Illinois. They are members of the North Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League...

 in 1948
1948 NFL season
The 1948 NFL season was the 29th regular season of the National Football League. During the season, Halfback Fred Gehrke painted horns on the Los Angeles Rams' helmets, making the first modern helmet emblem in pro football. The season ended when the Philadelphia Eagles defeated the Chicago...

, the New York Bulldogs in 1949
1949 NFL season
The 1949 NFL season was the 30th regular season of the National Football League. Prior to the season, Boston Yanks owner Ted Collins asked the league to fold his team due to financial woes, and give him a new one in New York City...

, the Detroit Lions
Detroit Lions
The Detroit Lions are a professional American football team based in Detroit, Michigan. They are members of the North Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League , and play their home games at Ford Field in Downtown Detroit.Originally based in Portsmouth, Ohio and...

 from 1950
1950 NFL season
The 1950 NFL season was the 31st regular season of the National Football League. The merger with the All-America Football Conference expanded the league to 13 teams. Meanwhile, television brought a new era to the game. The Los Angeles Rams became the first NFL team to have all of its games – both...

1958
1958 NFL season
The 1958 NFL season was the 39th regular season of the National Football League.The Baltimore Colts defeated the New York Giants, 23–17, in the first sudden-death overtime in an NFL Championship Game...

, and the Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh Steelers
The Pittsburgh Steelers are a professional football team based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The team currently belongs to the North Division of the American Football Conference in the National Football League . Founded in , the Steelers are the oldest franchise in the AFC...

 from 1958
1958 NFL season
The 1958 NFL season was the 39th regular season of the National Football League.The Baltimore Colts defeated the New York Giants, 23–17, in the first sudden-death overtime in an NFL Championship Game...

1962
1962 NFL season
The 1962 NFL season was the 43rd regular season of the National Football League. Before the season, CBS signed a contract with the league to televise all regular-season games for a $4.65 million annual fee....

. He was drafted by the Bears in the first round of the 1948 NFL Draft
1948 NFL Draft
The 1948 National Football League Draft was held on December 19, 1947 at the Fort Pitt Hotel in Pittsburgh.-Player selections:-Round one:-Round two:-Round three:-Round four:-Round five:-Round six:-Round seven:-Round eight:...

. He played college football
College football
College football refers to American football played by teams of student athletes fielded by American universities, colleges, and military academies, or Canadian football played by teams of student athletes fielded by Canadian universities...

 at the University of Texas
Texas Longhorns football
The Texas Longhorns football program is the intercollegiate football team representing The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas. The team currently competes in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision as a member of the Big 12 Conference which is a Division I Bowl Subdivision of the National...

.

He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame
Pro Football Hall of Fame
The Pro Football Hall of Fame is the hall of fame of professional football in the United States with an emphasis on the National Football League . It opened in Canton, Ohio, on September 7, 1963, with 17 charter inductees...

 in 1967 and inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame
College Football Hall of Fame
The College Football Hall of Fame is a hall of fame and museum devoted to college football. Located in South Bend, Indiana, it is connected to a convention center and situated in the city's renovated downtown district, two miles south of the University of Notre Dame campus. It is slated to move...

 in 1968. His number, 22, has been retired by the University of Texas Longhorns
Texas Longhorns football
The Texas Longhorns football program is the intercollegiate football team representing The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas. The team currently competes in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision as a member of the Big 12 Conference which is a Division I Bowl Subdivision of the National...

 and Detroit Lions
Detroit Lions
The Detroit Lions are a professional American football team based in Detroit, Michigan. They are members of the North Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League , and play their home games at Ford Field in Downtown Detroit.Originally based in Portsmouth, Ohio and...

.

Early years


Layne was born in Santa Anna, Texas
Santa Anna, Texas
Santa Anna is a town in Coleman County, Texas, United States. The population was 1,081 at the 2000 census.-Geography:Santa Anna is located at ....

 and attended Highland Park High School
Highland Park High School (University Park, Texas)
Highland Park High School is located in University Park, Texas.Highland Park is a part of the Highland Park Independent School District. It serves all of the city of University Park, most of the town of Highland Park, and portions of Dallas.-History:...

 in Dallas
Dallas, Texas
Dallas is the third-largest city in Texas and the ninth-largest in the United States. The Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex is the largest metropolitan area in the South and fourth-largest metropolitan area in the United States...

. He played football
High school football
High school football, in North America, refers to the game of football as it is played in the United States and Canada. It ranks among the most popular interscholastic sports in both of these nations....

 with teammate Doak Walker
Doak Walker
Ewell Doak Walker, Jr. was an American football player who is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was a teammate of Bobby Layne in high school and the NFL.-Early life:...

.

College career


One of the greatest quarterbacks ever to play for Texas, Layne was selected to four straight All-Southwest Conference teams from 1944-1947. He was one of the first inductees into the Cotton Bowl Hall of Fame. In the 1946 Cotton Bowl Classic, where Texas beat Missouri
Missouri Tigers football
The Missouri Tigers football team represents the University of Missouri in NCAA Division I FBS college football. The team has competed in the North Division of the Big 12 Conference since the conference's inception in 1996...

 40-27, Layne accounted for every point, scoring four touchdowns, kicking four extra points and throwing for two other scores. In 1946, Layne finished 8th in Heisman Trophy
Heisman Trophy
The Heisman Memorial Trophy Award , is awarded annually to the player deemed the most outstanding player in collegiate football. It was created in 1935 as the Downtown Athletic Club trophy and renamed in 1936 following the death of the Club's athletic director, John Heisman The Heisman Memorial...

 balloting to Glenn Davis of Army
United States Military Academy
The United States Military Academy at West Point is a four-year coeducational federal service academy located at West Point, New York. The academy sits on scenic high ground overlooking the Hudson River, north of New York City...

 and in 1947 he finished 6th to John Lujack
Johnny Lujack
John Christopher Lujack Jr. is a former American football quarterback and 1947 Heisman Trophy winner.Lujack was born on January 4, 1925, in Connellsville, Pennsylvania. He played college football for the University of Notre Dame, and professionally for the Chicago Bears. Lujack was the first of...

 of Notre Dame
Notre Dame Fighting Irish football
Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team is the football team of the University of Notre Dame. The team is currently coached by Brian Kelly.Notre Dame competes as an Independent at the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision level, and is a founding member of the Bowl Championship Series coalition. It is an...

, and was voted the Outstanding Back in the 1948 Sugar Bowl
Sugar Bowl
The Sugar Bowl is an annual American college football bowl game played in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Sugar Bowl has been played annually since January 1, 1935, and celebrated its 75th anniversary on January 2, 2009...

 victory over #6 Alabama
Alabama Crimson Tide football
|TeamName = Alabama football |Image = Alabama Crimson Tide Logo.svg |ImageSize = 110 |Helmet = Alabama Football.png |ImageSize2 = 150 |CurrentSeason = 2011 Alabama Crimson Tide football team...

. Layne finished his Texas career with a school record 3,145 passing yards on 210 completions and 400 attempts. Layne also had success in baseball as a pitcher for Texas as well. In his career as a pitcher he threw two no hitters.

Professional career


Drafted into the National Football League
National Football League
The National Football League is the highest level of professional American football in the United States, and is considered the top professional American football league in the world. It was formed by eleven teams in 1920 as the American Professional Football Association, with the league changing...

 by the Chicago Bears
Chicago Bears
The Chicago Bears are a professional American football team based in Chicago, Illinois. They are members of the North Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League...

, Layne was the 3rd overall selection in the 1948 NFL Draft
1948 NFL Draft
The 1948 National Football League Draft was held on December 19, 1947 at the Fort Pitt Hotel in Pittsburgh.-Player selections:-Round one:-Round two:-Round three:-Round four:-Round five:-Round six:-Round seven:-Round eight:...

 and was the 2nd overall selection in the 1948 AAFC
All-America Football Conference
The All-America Football Conference was a professional American football league that challenged the established National Football League from 1946 to 1949. One of the NFL's most formidable challengers, the AAFC attracted many of the nation's best players, and introduced many lasting innovations...

 Draft by the Baltimore Colts
Baltimore Colts (1947-50)
The Baltimore Colts were a professional American football team based in Baltimore, Maryland. The first team to bear the name Baltimore Colts, they were members of the All-America Football Conference from 1947–1949, and then joined the National Football League for one season before folding...

. Layne was offered $77,000 to play for the Colts, but George Halas
George Halas
George Stanley Halas, Sr. , nicknamed "Papa Bear" and "Mr. Everything", was a player, coach, owner and pioneer in professional American football. He was the iconic longtime leader of the NFL's Chicago Bears...

 "sweet talked" him into signing with the Bears. He promised a slow rise to fame in the "big leagues" with a no-trade understanding. After one season, Layne was the third-string quarterback, behind both Sid Luckman
Sid Luckman
Sidney Luckman, known as Sid Luckman, was an American football quarterback for the Chicago Bears of the National Football League from 1939 to 1950...

 and Johnny Lujack
Johnny Lujack
John Christopher Lujack Jr. is a former American football quarterback and 1947 Heisman Trophy winner.Lujack was born on January 4, 1925, in Connellsville, Pennsylvania. He played college football for the University of Notre Dame, and professionally for the Chicago Bears. Lujack was the first of...

, and refused to return to the Bears and tried to engineer his own trade to the Green Bay Packers
Green Bay Packers
The Green Bay Packers are an American football team based in Green Bay, Wisconsin. They are members of the North Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League . The Packers are the current NFL champions...

. Halas, preoccupied with fending off a challenge from the AAFC
All-America Football Conference
The All-America Football Conference was a professional American football league that challenged the established National Football League from 1946 to 1949. One of the NFL's most formidable challengers, the AAFC attracted many of the nation's best players, and introduced many lasting innovations...

, traded Layne to the New York Bulldogs
New York Yanks
The New York Yanks American football team played in the National Football League under that name in the 1950 and 1951 seasons. In 1949, Boston Yanks owner Ted Collins had requested the NFL to fold his Boston team and give him a new one in New York City...

 for their #1 draft pick and $50,000 cash. The cash was to be paid in four installments. The team won only one game and lost 11, but Layne played well and developed quickly. Layne compared one season with the soon-defunct New York Bulldogs as worth five seasons in the NFL. In 1950, Layne was traded to the Detroit Lions
Detroit Lions
The Detroit Lions are a professional American football team based in Detroit, Michigan. They are members of the North Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League , and play their home games at Ford Field in Downtown Detroit.Originally based in Portsmouth, Ohio and...

 for defensive end
Defensive end
Defensive end is the name of a defensive position in the sport of American and Canadian football.This position has designated the players at each end of the defensive line, but changes in formations have substantially changed how the position is played over the years...

 Bob Mann
Bob Mann (American football)
Robert "Bob" Mann was an American football end. A native of New Bern, North Carolina, Mann played college football at Hampton Institute in 1942 and 1943 and at the University of Michigan in 1944, 1946 and 1947. He broke the Big Ten Conference record for receiving yardage in 1946 and again in 1947...

. The Lions also picked up the tab and made the final three payments to Halas (Halas would remark later that the Lions should have continued the yearly payments indefinitely to him in view of Layne's performance).

From 1950-1955, Layne was re-united with his great friend and Highland Park High School teammate Doak Walker
Doak Walker
Ewell Doak Walker, Jr. was an American football player who is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was a teammate of Bobby Layne in high school and the NFL.-Early life:...

. In 1952, Bobby led the Detroit Lions to their first NFL Championship
NFL Championship Game, 1952
The 1952 National Football League championship game was the 20th annual championship game. The NFL title game was held on December 28, 1952 at Cleveland Municipal Stadium, Cleveland, Ohio....

 in 17 years. Layne would repeat this in 1953 for back to back NFL Championships
NFL Championship Game, 1953
The 1953 National Football League championship game was the 21st annual championship game. The NFL title game was held on December 27, 1953 at Briggs Stadium, Detroit, Michigan. The game was a rematch to the 1952 game between the Detroit Lions and Cleveland Browns.The Detroit Lions had finished...

, but fell short of a three-peat when the Detroit Lions lost to the Cleveland Browns
Cleveland Browns
The Cleveland Browns are a professional football team based in Cleveland, Ohio. They are currently members of the North Division of the American Football Conference in the National Football League...

 in the 1954 NFL Championship Game
NFL Championship Game, 1954
The 1954 National Football League championship game was the 22nd annual championship game. The NFL title game was held on December 26, 1954, at Cleveland Municipal Stadium, Cleveland, Ohio. This was the third straight title game between the Detroit Lions and the Cleveland Browns.The Detroit Lions...

. In 1957, Layne was leading the Lions toward another Championship when fate stepped in. In a game late in the season Layne broke his leg in three places during a pileup. His replacement, Tobin Rote
Tobin Rote
Tobin Cornelius Rote was an American college and professional football player who played quarterback for the NFL's Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions, the Canadian Football League's Toronto Argonauts, and the American Football League's San Diego Chargers and Denver Broncos.-Early life:Rote...

, finished the season and led the Lions to victory in the 1957 NFL Championship Game
NFL Championship Game, 1957
The 1957 National Football League championship game was the 25th annual championship game. The NFL title game was held on December 29, 1957 at Briggs Stadium, Detroit, Michigan. The game was the fourth pairing of the Detroit Lions and Cleveland Browns in the championship game...

.

During his career, Layne played for the Chicago Bears
Chicago Bears
The Chicago Bears are a professional American football team based in Chicago, Illinois. They are members of the North Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League...

 (1948), New York Bulldogs (1949), Detroit Lions
Detroit Lions
The Detroit Lions are a professional American football team based in Detroit, Michigan. They are members of the North Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League , and play their home games at Ford Field in Downtown Detroit.Originally based in Portsmouth, Ohio and...

 (1950–1958) and the Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh Steelers
The Pittsburgh Steelers are a professional football team based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The team currently belongs to the North Division of the American Football Conference in the National Football League . Founded in , the Steelers are the oldest franchise in the AFC...

 (1958–1962). After retiring from 15 seasons in the NFL, Layne held the career records for both passes attempted (3,700) and completed(1,814), as well as yards gained passing (26,768) and passing touchdowns (196). Layne was not the most gifted or talented person in the NFL at the time, his passes sometimes looked like wounded ducks on the field, but his drive, leadership, and clutch play (he is credited with creating the two-minute offense) made him great. Layne was one of the last players to play in the NFL without a facemask
The Helmet Project
The Helmet Project is a website which illustrates the evolution of the gridiron football helmets since 1960. This year was chosen as a cut-off point as hard-shell helmets had fully replaced obsolete leather headgear by this point, plus there are very few color photographs that illustrate football...

.

After football


After retirement, Layne stated the biggest disappointment in his football career was having never won a championship for the Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh Steelers
The Pittsburgh Steelers are a professional football team based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The team currently belongs to the North Division of the American Football Conference in the National Football League . Founded in , the Steelers are the oldest franchise in the AFC...

 and especially, Art Rooney
Art Rooney
Arthur Joseph "Art" Rooney, Sr. , often referred to as "The Chief", was the founding owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers American football franchise in the National Football League.-Family history:...

. Layne did serve as an assistant coach for the Steelers after his retirement on the staff of Buddy Parker
Buddy Parker
Raymond "Buddy" Parker is a former football player and coach in the National Football League who served as head coach for three teams: the Chicago Cardinals, the Detroit Lions and the Pittsburgh Steelers....

.

Layne was known more for his leadership and determination than for pure athletic ability. According to Doak Walker
Doak Walker
Ewell Doak Walker, Jr. was an American football player who is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was a teammate of Bobby Layne in high school and the NFL.-Early life:...

, "Layne never lost a game...time just ran out on him." Layne was voted into the Texas Longhorn Hall of Honor in 1963 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame
Pro Football Hall of Fame
The Pro Football Hall of Fame is the hall of fame of professional football in the United States with an emphasis on the National Football League . It opened in Canton, Ohio, on September 7, 1963, with 17 charter inductees...

 in 1967. In a special issue in 1995, Sports Illustrated
Sports Illustrated
Sports Illustrated is an American sports media company owned by media conglomerate Time Warner. Its self titled magazine has over 3.5 million subscribers and is read by 23 million adults each week, including over 18 million men. It was the first magazine with circulation over one million to win the...

 called him "The Toughest Quarterback Who Ever Lived." In 1999, he was ranked number 52 on the Sporting News list of Football's 100 Greatest Players. Layne may not have been among the greatest quarterback in stats, but he was one of the greatest quarterbacks in leadership and bravery. He used to play without a facemask and usually drove himself to the edge of physical endurance.

Layne, often accompanied by Alex Karras
Alex Karras
Alexander George "Alex" Karras , nicknamed "The Mad Duck", is a former football player, professional wrestler, and actor, best known for his stint with the Detroit Lions of the National Football League from 1958–1962 and 1964-1970 and for his role as Mongo in the film Blazing Saddles...

, was also famous for his late-night bar-hopping
Pub crawl
A pub crawl is the act of one or more people drinking in multiple pubs or bars in a single night, normally walking or busing to each one between drinking.-Origin of the term:...

, and his heavy drinking may have led to his death shortly before his 60th birthday. Layne is reported to have stated: "If I'd known I was gonna live this long, I'd have taken a lot better care of myself." That line was later used by baseball legend Mickey Mantle
Mickey Mantle
Mickey Charles Mantle was an American professional baseball player. Mantle is regarded by many to be the greatest switch hitter of all time, and one of the greatest players in baseball history. Mantle was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1974.Mantle was noted for his hitting...

, a Dallas neighbor and friend of Layne's, who also died in part due to alcohol abuse. Layne also suffered from cancer
Cancer
Cancer , known medically as a malignant neoplasm, is a large group of different diseases, all involving unregulated cell growth. In cancer, cells divide and grow uncontrollably, forming malignant tumors, and invade nearby parts of the body. The cancer may also spread to more distant parts of the...

 during his last years, which may have been a factor in his death.

The Curse of Bobby Layne


In 1958, the Lions traded Layne to the Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh Steelers
The Pittsburgh Steelers are a professional football team based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The team currently belongs to the North Division of the American Football Conference in the National Football League . Founded in , the Steelers are the oldest franchise in the AFC...

. Layne responded to the trade by supposedly saying that the Lions would "not win for 50 years". This story has been disputed as being a hoax
Hoax
A hoax is a deliberately fabricated falsehood made to masquerade as truth. It is distinguishable from errors in observation or judgment, or rumors, urban legends, pseudosciences or April Fools' Day events that are passed along in good faith by believers or as jokes.-Definition:The British...

, particularly because the quote was never published at the time.

Still, for the next 50 years after the trade, the Lions accumulated the worst winning percentage of any team in the NFL. They are still one of only two franchises that have been in the NFL since 1970 that have not played in a Super Bowl
Super Bowl
The Super Bowl is the championship game of the National Football League , the highest level of professional American football in the United States, culminating a season that begins in the late summer of the previous calendar year. The Super Bowl uses Roman numerals to identify each game, rather...

  (the other team is the Cleveland Browns
Cleveland Browns
The Cleveland Browns are a professional football team based in Cleveland, Ohio. They are currently members of the North Division of the American Football Conference in the National Football League...

). The Lions only made the playoffs nine times in those last 50 seasons, have one post-season win (1991), and three Division
NFC North
The NFC North is a division of the National Football League's National Football Conference, based in the Upper Midwest region of the United States...

 titles (1983, 1991, and 1993). The 1st time the Detroit Lions returned to the playoffs after the Layne era was in 1970. This ended a 13-year drought, but the team lost to the Dallas Cowboys
Dallas Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys are a professional American football franchise which plays in the Eastern Division of the National Football Conference of the National Football League . They are headquartered in Valley Ranch in Irving, Texas, a suburb of Dallas...

, 5-0, in what is still the lowest scoring playoff game of all time. The 2008 season, the supposed final year of the curse, saw Detroit finish with a winless 0-16 record, the worst in NFL history.

Coincidentally, in the 2009 NFL Draft
2009 NFL Draft
The 2009 NFL Draft was the seventy-fourth annual meeting of National Football League franchises to select newly eligible football players. The draft took place at Radio City Music Hall in New York City on April 25 and 26, 2009. The draft consisted of two rounds on the first day starting at 4:00...

, right after the curse supposedly expired, the Detroit Lions drafted University of Georgia
University of Georgia
The University of Georgia is a public research university located in Athens, Georgia, United States. Founded in 1785, it is the oldest and largest of the state's institutions of higher learning and is one of multiple schools to claim the title of the oldest public university in the United States...

 quarterback Matthew Stafford
Matthew Stafford
John Matthew Stafford is an American football quarterback for the Detroit Lions of the National Football League. He was drafted by the Lions first overall in the 2009 NFL Draft. He played college football at the University of Georgia....

 first-overall. He came from Highland Park High School
Highland Park High School (University Park, Texas)
Highland Park High School is located in University Park, Texas.Highland Park is a part of the Highland Park Independent School District. It serves all of the city of University Park, most of the town of Highland Park, and portions of Dallas.-History:...

, the same high school as Layne. Stafford also lived in a house on the same street as Layne's.

External links


{{Portal|Biography}}
Robert Lawrence "Bobby" Layne (December 19, 1926 – December 1, 1986) was an American football
American football
American football is a sport played between two teams of eleven with the objective of scoring points by advancing the ball into the opposing team's end zone. Known in the United States simply as football, it may also be referred to informally as gridiron football. The ball can be advanced by...

 quarterback
Quarterback
Quarterback is a position in American and Canadian football. Quarterbacks are members of the offensive team and line up directly behind the offensive line...

 who played for 15 seasons in the National Football League
National Football League
The National Football League is the highest level of professional American football in the United States, and is considered the top professional American football league in the world. It was formed by eleven teams in 1920 as the American Professional Football Association, with the league changing...

. He played for the Chicago Bears
Chicago Bears
The Chicago Bears are a professional American football team based in Chicago, Illinois. They are members of the North Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League...

 in 1948
1948 NFL season
The 1948 NFL season was the 29th regular season of the National Football League. During the season, Halfback Fred Gehrke painted horns on the Los Angeles Rams' helmets, making the first modern helmet emblem in pro football. The season ended when the Philadelphia Eagles defeated the Chicago...

, the New York Bulldogs in 1949
1949 NFL season
The 1949 NFL season was the 30th regular season of the National Football League. Prior to the season, Boston Yanks owner Ted Collins asked the league to fold his team due to financial woes, and give him a new one in New York City...

, the Detroit Lions
Detroit Lions
The Detroit Lions are a professional American football team based in Detroit, Michigan. They are members of the North Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League , and play their home games at Ford Field in Downtown Detroit.Originally based in Portsmouth, Ohio and...

 from 1950
1950 NFL season
The 1950 NFL season was the 31st regular season of the National Football League. The merger with the All-America Football Conference expanded the league to 13 teams. Meanwhile, television brought a new era to the game. The Los Angeles Rams became the first NFL team to have all of its games – both...

1958
1958 NFL season
The 1958 NFL season was the 39th regular season of the National Football League.The Baltimore Colts defeated the New York Giants, 23–17, in the first sudden-death overtime in an NFL Championship Game...

, and the Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh Steelers
The Pittsburgh Steelers are a professional football team based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The team currently belongs to the North Division of the American Football Conference in the National Football League . Founded in , the Steelers are the oldest franchise in the AFC...

 from 1958
1958 NFL season
The 1958 NFL season was the 39th regular season of the National Football League.The Baltimore Colts defeated the New York Giants, 23–17, in the first sudden-death overtime in an NFL Championship Game...

1962
1962 NFL season
The 1962 NFL season was the 43rd regular season of the National Football League. Before the season, CBS signed a contract with the league to televise all regular-season games for a $4.65 million annual fee....

. He was drafted by the Bears in the first round of the 1948 NFL Draft
1948 NFL Draft
The 1948 National Football League Draft was held on December 19, 1947 at the Fort Pitt Hotel in Pittsburgh.-Player selections:-Round one:-Round two:-Round three:-Round four:-Round five:-Round six:-Round seven:-Round eight:...

. He played college football
College football
College football refers to American football played by teams of student athletes fielded by American universities, colleges, and military academies, or Canadian football played by teams of student athletes fielded by Canadian universities...

 at the University of Texas
Texas Longhorns football
The Texas Longhorns football program is the intercollegiate football team representing The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas. The team currently competes in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision as a member of the Big 12 Conference which is a Division I Bowl Subdivision of the National...

.

He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame
Pro Football Hall of Fame
The Pro Football Hall of Fame is the hall of fame of professional football in the United States with an emphasis on the National Football League . It opened in Canton, Ohio, on September 7, 1963, with 17 charter inductees...

 in 1967 and inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame
College Football Hall of Fame
The College Football Hall of Fame is a hall of fame and museum devoted to college football. Located in South Bend, Indiana, it is connected to a convention center and situated in the city's renovated downtown district, two miles south of the University of Notre Dame campus. It is slated to move...

 in 1968. His number, 22, has been retired by the University of Texas Longhorns
Texas Longhorns football
The Texas Longhorns football program is the intercollegiate football team representing The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas. The team currently competes in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision as a member of the Big 12 Conference which is a Division I Bowl Subdivision of the National...

 and Detroit Lions
Detroit Lions
The Detroit Lions are a professional American football team based in Detroit, Michigan. They are members of the North Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League , and play their home games at Ford Field in Downtown Detroit.Originally based in Portsmouth, Ohio and...

.

Early years


Layne was born in Santa Anna, Texas
Santa Anna, Texas
Santa Anna is a town in Coleman County, Texas, United States. The population was 1,081 at the 2000 census.-Geography:Santa Anna is located at ....

 and attended Highland Park High School
Highland Park High School (University Park, Texas)
Highland Park High School is located in University Park, Texas.Highland Park is a part of the Highland Park Independent School District. It serves all of the city of University Park, most of the town of Highland Park, and portions of Dallas.-History:...

 in Dallas
Dallas, Texas
Dallas is the third-largest city in Texas and the ninth-largest in the United States. The Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex is the largest metropolitan area in the South and fourth-largest metropolitan area in the United States...

. He played football
High school football
High school football, in North America, refers to the game of football as it is played in the United States and Canada. It ranks among the most popular interscholastic sports in both of these nations....

 with teammate Doak Walker
Doak Walker
Ewell Doak Walker, Jr. was an American football player who is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was a teammate of Bobby Layne in high school and the NFL.-Early life:...

.

College career


One of the greatest quarterbacks ever to play for Texas, Layne was selected to four straight All-Southwest Conference teams from 1944-1947. He was one of the first inductees into the Cotton Bowl Hall of Fame. In the 1946 Cotton Bowl Classic, where Texas beat Missouri
Missouri Tigers football
The Missouri Tigers football team represents the University of Missouri in NCAA Division I FBS college football. The team has competed in the North Division of the Big 12 Conference since the conference's inception in 1996...

 40-27, Layne accounted for every point, scoring four touchdowns, kicking four extra points and throwing for two other scores. In 1946, Layne finished 8th in Heisman Trophy
Heisman Trophy
The Heisman Memorial Trophy Award , is awarded annually to the player deemed the most outstanding player in collegiate football. It was created in 1935 as the Downtown Athletic Club trophy and renamed in 1936 following the death of the Club's athletic director, John Heisman The Heisman Memorial...

 balloting to Glenn Davis of Army
United States Military Academy
The United States Military Academy at West Point is a four-year coeducational federal service academy located at West Point, New York. The academy sits on scenic high ground overlooking the Hudson River, north of New York City...

 and in 1947 he finished 6th to John Lujack
Johnny Lujack
John Christopher Lujack Jr. is a former American football quarterback and 1947 Heisman Trophy winner.Lujack was born on January 4, 1925, in Connellsville, Pennsylvania. He played college football for the University of Notre Dame, and professionally for the Chicago Bears. Lujack was the first of...

 of Notre Dame
Notre Dame Fighting Irish football
Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team is the football team of the University of Notre Dame. The team is currently coached by Brian Kelly.Notre Dame competes as an Independent at the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision level, and is a founding member of the Bowl Championship Series coalition. It is an...

, and was voted the Outstanding Back in the 1948 Sugar Bowl
Sugar Bowl
The Sugar Bowl is an annual American college football bowl game played in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Sugar Bowl has been played annually since January 1, 1935, and celebrated its 75th anniversary on January 2, 2009...

 victory over #6 Alabama
Alabama Crimson Tide football
|TeamName = Alabama football |Image = Alabama Crimson Tide Logo.svg |ImageSize = 110 |Helmet = Alabama Football.png |ImageSize2 = 150 |CurrentSeason = 2011 Alabama Crimson Tide football team...

. Layne finished his Texas career with a school record 3,145 passing yards on 210 completions and 400 attempts. Layne also had success in baseball as a pitcher for Texas as well. In his career as a pitcher he threw two no hitters.

Professional career


Drafted into the National Football League
National Football League
The National Football League is the highest level of professional American football in the United States, and is considered the top professional American football league in the world. It was formed by eleven teams in 1920 as the American Professional Football Association, with the league changing...

 by the Chicago Bears
Chicago Bears
The Chicago Bears are a professional American football team based in Chicago, Illinois. They are members of the North Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League...

, Layne was the 3rd overall selection in the 1948 NFL Draft
1948 NFL Draft
The 1948 National Football League Draft was held on December 19, 1947 at the Fort Pitt Hotel in Pittsburgh.-Player selections:-Round one:-Round two:-Round three:-Round four:-Round five:-Round six:-Round seven:-Round eight:...

 and was the 2nd overall selection in the 1948 AAFC
All-America Football Conference
The All-America Football Conference was a professional American football league that challenged the established National Football League from 1946 to 1949. One of the NFL's most formidable challengers, the AAFC attracted many of the nation's best players, and introduced many lasting innovations...

 Draft by the Baltimore Colts
Baltimore Colts (1947-50)
The Baltimore Colts were a professional American football team based in Baltimore, Maryland. The first team to bear the name Baltimore Colts, they were members of the All-America Football Conference from 1947–1949, and then joined the National Football League for one season before folding...

. Layne was offered $77,000 to play for the Colts, but George Halas
George Halas
George Stanley Halas, Sr. , nicknamed "Papa Bear" and "Mr. Everything", was a player, coach, owner and pioneer in professional American football. He was the iconic longtime leader of the NFL's Chicago Bears...

 "sweet talked" him into signing with the Bears. He promised a slow rise to fame in the "big leagues" with a no-trade understanding. After one season, Layne was the third-string quarterback, behind both Sid Luckman
Sid Luckman
Sidney Luckman, known as Sid Luckman, was an American football quarterback for the Chicago Bears of the National Football League from 1939 to 1950...

 and Johnny Lujack
Johnny Lujack
John Christopher Lujack Jr. is a former American football quarterback and 1947 Heisman Trophy winner.Lujack was born on January 4, 1925, in Connellsville, Pennsylvania. He played college football for the University of Notre Dame, and professionally for the Chicago Bears. Lujack was the first of...

, and refused to return to the Bears and tried to engineer his own trade to the Green Bay Packers
Green Bay Packers
The Green Bay Packers are an American football team based in Green Bay, Wisconsin. They are members of the North Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League . The Packers are the current NFL champions...

. Halas, preoccupied with fending off a challenge from the AAFC
All-America Football Conference
The All-America Football Conference was a professional American football league that challenged the established National Football League from 1946 to 1949. One of the NFL's most formidable challengers, the AAFC attracted many of the nation's best players, and introduced many lasting innovations...

, traded Layne to the New York Bulldogs
New York Yanks
The New York Yanks American football team played in the National Football League under that name in the 1950 and 1951 seasons. In 1949, Boston Yanks owner Ted Collins had requested the NFL to fold his Boston team and give him a new one in New York City...

 for their #1 draft pick and $50,000 cash. The cash was to be paid in four installments. The team won only one game and lost 11, but Layne played well and developed quickly. Layne compared one season with the soon-defunct New York Bulldogs as worth five seasons in the NFL. In 1950, Layne was traded to the Detroit Lions
Detroit Lions
The Detroit Lions are a professional American football team based in Detroit, Michigan. They are members of the North Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League , and play their home games at Ford Field in Downtown Detroit.Originally based in Portsmouth, Ohio and...

 for defensive end
Defensive end
Defensive end is the name of a defensive position in the sport of American and Canadian football.This position has designated the players at each end of the defensive line, but changes in formations have substantially changed how the position is played over the years...

 Bob Mann
Bob Mann (American football)
Robert "Bob" Mann was an American football end. A native of New Bern, North Carolina, Mann played college football at Hampton Institute in 1942 and 1943 and at the University of Michigan in 1944, 1946 and 1947. He broke the Big Ten Conference record for receiving yardage in 1946 and again in 1947...

. The Lions also picked up the tab and made the final three payments to Halas (Halas would remark later that the Lions should have continued the yearly payments indefinitely to him in view of Layne's performance).

From 1950-1955, Layne was re-united with his great friend and Highland Park High School teammate Doak Walker
Doak Walker
Ewell Doak Walker, Jr. was an American football player who is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was a teammate of Bobby Layne in high school and the NFL.-Early life:...

. In 1952, Bobby led the Detroit Lions to their first NFL Championship
NFL Championship Game, 1952
The 1952 National Football League championship game was the 20th annual championship game. The NFL title game was held on December 28, 1952 at Cleveland Municipal Stadium, Cleveland, Ohio....

 in 17 years. Layne would repeat this in 1953 for back to back NFL Championships
NFL Championship Game, 1953
The 1953 National Football League championship game was the 21st annual championship game. The NFL title game was held on December 27, 1953 at Briggs Stadium, Detroit, Michigan. The game was a rematch to the 1952 game between the Detroit Lions and Cleveland Browns.The Detroit Lions had finished...

, but fell short of a three-peat when the Detroit Lions lost to the Cleveland Browns
Cleveland Browns
The Cleveland Browns are a professional football team based in Cleveland, Ohio. They are currently members of the North Division of the American Football Conference in the National Football League...

 in the 1954 NFL Championship Game
NFL Championship Game, 1954
The 1954 National Football League championship game was the 22nd annual championship game. The NFL title game was held on December 26, 1954, at Cleveland Municipal Stadium, Cleveland, Ohio. This was the third straight title game between the Detroit Lions and the Cleveland Browns.The Detroit Lions...

. In 1957, Layne was leading the Lions toward another Championship when fate stepped in. In a game late in the season Layne broke his leg in three places during a pileup. His replacement, Tobin Rote
Tobin Rote
Tobin Cornelius Rote was an American college and professional football player who played quarterback for the NFL's Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions, the Canadian Football League's Toronto Argonauts, and the American Football League's San Diego Chargers and Denver Broncos.-Early life:Rote...

, finished the season and led the Lions to victory in the 1957 NFL Championship Game
NFL Championship Game, 1957
The 1957 National Football League championship game was the 25th annual championship game. The NFL title game was held on December 29, 1957 at Briggs Stadium, Detroit, Michigan. The game was the fourth pairing of the Detroit Lions and Cleveland Browns in the championship game...

.

During his career, Layne played for the Chicago Bears
Chicago Bears
The Chicago Bears are a professional American football team based in Chicago, Illinois. They are members of the North Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League...

 (1948), New York Bulldogs (1949), Detroit Lions
Detroit Lions
The Detroit Lions are a professional American football team based in Detroit, Michigan. They are members of the North Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League , and play their home games at Ford Field in Downtown Detroit.Originally based in Portsmouth, Ohio and...

 (1950–1958) and the Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh Steelers
The Pittsburgh Steelers are a professional football team based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The team currently belongs to the North Division of the American Football Conference in the National Football League . Founded in , the Steelers are the oldest franchise in the AFC...

 (1958–1962). After retiring from 15 seasons in the NFL, Layne held the career records for both passes attempted (3,700) and completed(1,814), as well as yards gained passing (26,768) and passing touchdowns (196). Layne was not the most gifted or talented person in the NFL at the time, his passes sometimes looked like wounded ducks on the field, but his drive, leadership, and clutch play (he is credited with creating the two-minute offense) made him great. Layne was one of the last players to play in the NFL without a facemask
The Helmet Project
The Helmet Project is a website which illustrates the evolution of the gridiron football helmets since 1960. This year was chosen as a cut-off point as hard-shell helmets had fully replaced obsolete leather headgear by this point, plus there are very few color photographs that illustrate football...

.

After football


After retirement, Layne stated the biggest disappointment in his football career was having never won a championship for the Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh Steelers
The Pittsburgh Steelers are a professional football team based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The team currently belongs to the North Division of the American Football Conference in the National Football League . Founded in , the Steelers are the oldest franchise in the AFC...

 and especially, Art Rooney
Art Rooney
Arthur Joseph "Art" Rooney, Sr. , often referred to as "The Chief", was the founding owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers American football franchise in the National Football League.-Family history:...

. Layne did serve as an assistant coach for the Steelers after his retirement on the staff of Buddy Parker
Buddy Parker
Raymond "Buddy" Parker is a former football player and coach in the National Football League who served as head coach for three teams: the Chicago Cardinals, the Detroit Lions and the Pittsburgh Steelers....

.

Layne was known more for his leadership and determination than for pure athletic ability. According to Doak Walker
Doak Walker
Ewell Doak Walker, Jr. was an American football player who is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was a teammate of Bobby Layne in high school and the NFL.-Early life:...

, "Layne never lost a game...time just ran out on him." Layne was voted into the Texas Longhorn Hall of Honor in 1963 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame
Pro Football Hall of Fame
The Pro Football Hall of Fame is the hall of fame of professional football in the United States with an emphasis on the National Football League . It opened in Canton, Ohio, on September 7, 1963, with 17 charter inductees...

 in 1967. In a special issue in 1995, Sports Illustrated
Sports Illustrated
Sports Illustrated is an American sports media company owned by media conglomerate Time Warner. Its self titled magazine has over 3.5 million subscribers and is read by 23 million adults each week, including over 18 million men. It was the first magazine with circulation over one million to win the...

 called him "The Toughest Quarterback Who Ever Lived." In 1999, he was ranked number 52 on the Sporting News list of Football's 100 Greatest Players. Layne may not have been among the greatest quarterback in stats, but he was one of the greatest quarterbacks in leadership and bravery. He used to play without a facemask and usually drove himself to the edge of physical endurance.

Layne, often accompanied by Alex Karras
Alex Karras
Alexander George "Alex" Karras , nicknamed "The Mad Duck", is a former football player, professional wrestler, and actor, best known for his stint with the Detroit Lions of the National Football League from 1958–1962 and 1964-1970 and for his role as Mongo in the film Blazing Saddles...

, was also famous for his late-night bar-hopping
Pub crawl
A pub crawl is the act of one or more people drinking in multiple pubs or bars in a single night, normally walking or busing to each one between drinking.-Origin of the term:...

, and his heavy drinking may have led to his death shortly before his 60th birthday. Layne is reported to have stated: "If I'd known I was gonna live this long, I'd have taken a lot better care of myself." That line was later used by baseball legend Mickey Mantle
Mickey Mantle
Mickey Charles Mantle was an American professional baseball player. Mantle is regarded by many to be the greatest switch hitter of all time, and one of the greatest players in baseball history. Mantle was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1974.Mantle was noted for his hitting...

, a Dallas neighbor and friend of Layne's, who also died in part due to alcohol abuse. Layne also suffered from cancer
Cancer
Cancer , known medically as a malignant neoplasm, is a large group of different diseases, all involving unregulated cell growth. In cancer, cells divide and grow uncontrollably, forming malignant tumors, and invade nearby parts of the body. The cancer may also spread to more distant parts of the...

 during his last years, which may have been a factor in his death.

The Curse of Bobby Layne


In 1958, the Lions traded Layne to the Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh Steelers
The Pittsburgh Steelers are a professional football team based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The team currently belongs to the North Division of the American Football Conference in the National Football League . Founded in , the Steelers are the oldest franchise in the AFC...

. Layne responded to the trade by supposedly saying that the Lions would "not win for 50 years". This story has been disputed as being a hoax
Hoax
A hoax is a deliberately fabricated falsehood made to masquerade as truth. It is distinguishable from errors in observation or judgment, or rumors, urban legends, pseudosciences or April Fools' Day events that are passed along in good faith by believers or as jokes.-Definition:The British...

, particularly because the quote was never published at the time.

Still, for the next 50 years after the trade, the Lions accumulated the worst winning percentage of any team in the NFL. They are still one of only two franchises that have been in the NFL since 1970 that have not played in a Super Bowl
Super Bowl
The Super Bowl is the championship game of the National Football League , the highest level of professional American football in the United States, culminating a season that begins in the late summer of the previous calendar year. The Super Bowl uses Roman numerals to identify each game, rather...

  (the other team is the Cleveland Browns
Cleveland Browns
The Cleveland Browns are a professional football team based in Cleveland, Ohio. They are currently members of the North Division of the American Football Conference in the National Football League...

). The Lions only made the playoffs nine times in those last 50 seasons, have one post-season win (1991), and three Division
NFC North
The NFC North is a division of the National Football League's National Football Conference, based in the Upper Midwest region of the United States...

 titles (1983, 1991, and 1993). The 1st time the Detroit Lions returned to the playoffs after the Layne era was in 1970. This ended a 13-year drought, but the team lost to the Dallas Cowboys
Dallas Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys are a professional American football franchise which plays in the Eastern Division of the National Football Conference of the National Football League . They are headquartered in Valley Ranch in Irving, Texas, a suburb of Dallas...

, 5-0, in what is still the lowest scoring playoff game of all time. The 2008 season, the supposed final year of the curse, saw Detroit finish with a winless 0-16 record, the worst in NFL history.

Coincidentally, in the 2009 NFL Draft
2009 NFL Draft
The 2009 NFL Draft was the seventy-fourth annual meeting of National Football League franchises to select newly eligible football players. The draft took place at Radio City Music Hall in New York City on April 25 and 26, 2009. The draft consisted of two rounds on the first day starting at 4:00...

, right after the curse supposedly expired, the Detroit Lions drafted University of Georgia
University of Georgia
The University of Georgia is a public research university located in Athens, Georgia, United States. Founded in 1785, it is the oldest and largest of the state's institutions of higher learning and is one of multiple schools to claim the title of the oldest public university in the United States...

 quarterback Matthew Stafford
Matthew Stafford
John Matthew Stafford is an American football quarterback for the Detroit Lions of the National Football League. He was drafted by the Lions first overall in the 2009 NFL Draft. He played college football at the University of Georgia....

 first-overall. He came from Highland Park High School
Highland Park High School (University Park, Texas)
Highland Park High School is located in University Park, Texas.Highland Park is a part of the Highland Park Independent School District. It serves all of the city of University Park, most of the town of Highland Park, and portions of Dallas.-History:...

, the same high school as Layne. Stafford also lived in a house on the same street as Layne's.

External links


{{Portal|Biography}}

{{Navbox
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Robert Lawrence "Bobby" Layne (December 19, 1926 – December 1, 1986) was an American football
American football
American football is a sport played between two teams of eleven with the objective of scoring points by advancing the ball into the opposing team's end zone. Known in the United States simply as football, it may also be referred to informally as gridiron football. The ball can be advanced by...

 quarterback
Quarterback
Quarterback is a position in American and Canadian football. Quarterbacks are members of the offensive team and line up directly behind the offensive line...

 who played for 15 seasons in the National Football League
National Football League
The National Football League is the highest level of professional American football in the United States, and is considered the top professional American football league in the world. It was formed by eleven teams in 1920 as the American Professional Football Association, with the league changing...

. He played for the Chicago Bears
Chicago Bears
The Chicago Bears are a professional American football team based in Chicago, Illinois. They are members of the North Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League...

 in 1948
1948 NFL season
The 1948 NFL season was the 29th regular season of the National Football League. During the season, Halfback Fred Gehrke painted horns on the Los Angeles Rams' helmets, making the first modern helmet emblem in pro football. The season ended when the Philadelphia Eagles defeated the Chicago...

, the New York Bulldogs in 1949
1949 NFL season
The 1949 NFL season was the 30th regular season of the National Football League. Prior to the season, Boston Yanks owner Ted Collins asked the league to fold his team due to financial woes, and give him a new one in New York City...

, the Detroit Lions
Detroit Lions
The Detroit Lions are a professional American football team based in Detroit, Michigan. They are members of the North Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League , and play their home games at Ford Field in Downtown Detroit.Originally based in Portsmouth, Ohio and...

 from 1950
1950 NFL season
The 1950 NFL season was the 31st regular season of the National Football League. The merger with the All-America Football Conference expanded the league to 13 teams. Meanwhile, television brought a new era to the game. The Los Angeles Rams became the first NFL team to have all of its games – both...

1958
1958 NFL season
The 1958 NFL season was the 39th regular season of the National Football League.The Baltimore Colts defeated the New York Giants, 23–17, in the first sudden-death overtime in an NFL Championship Game...

, and the Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh Steelers
The Pittsburgh Steelers are a professional football team based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The team currently belongs to the North Division of the American Football Conference in the National Football League . Founded in , the Steelers are the oldest franchise in the AFC...

 from 1958
1958 NFL season
The 1958 NFL season was the 39th regular season of the National Football League.The Baltimore Colts defeated the New York Giants, 23–17, in the first sudden-death overtime in an NFL Championship Game...

1962
1962 NFL season
The 1962 NFL season was the 43rd regular season of the National Football League. Before the season, CBS signed a contract with the league to televise all regular-season games for a $4.65 million annual fee....

. He was drafted by the Bears in the first round of the 1948 NFL Draft
1948 NFL Draft
The 1948 National Football League Draft was held on December 19, 1947 at the Fort Pitt Hotel in Pittsburgh.-Player selections:-Round one:-Round two:-Round three:-Round four:-Round five:-Round six:-Round seven:-Round eight:...

. He played college football
College football
College football refers to American football played by teams of student athletes fielded by American universities, colleges, and military academies, or Canadian football played by teams of student athletes fielded by Canadian universities...

 at the University of Texas
Texas Longhorns football
The Texas Longhorns football program is the intercollegiate football team representing The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas. The team currently competes in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision as a member of the Big 12 Conference which is a Division I Bowl Subdivision of the National...

.

He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame
Pro Football Hall of Fame
The Pro Football Hall of Fame is the hall of fame of professional football in the United States with an emphasis on the National Football League . It opened in Canton, Ohio, on September 7, 1963, with 17 charter inductees...

 in 1967 and inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame
College Football Hall of Fame
The College Football Hall of Fame is a hall of fame and museum devoted to college football. Located in South Bend, Indiana, it is connected to a convention center and situated in the city's renovated downtown district, two miles south of the University of Notre Dame campus. It is slated to move...

 in 1968. His number, 22, has been retired by the University of Texas Longhorns
Texas Longhorns football
The Texas Longhorns football program is the intercollegiate football team representing The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas. The team currently competes in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision as a member of the Big 12 Conference which is a Division I Bowl Subdivision of the National...

 and Detroit Lions
Detroit Lions
The Detroit Lions are a professional American football team based in Detroit, Michigan. They are members of the North Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League , and play their home games at Ford Field in Downtown Detroit.Originally based in Portsmouth, Ohio and...

.

Early years


Layne was born in Santa Anna, Texas
Santa Anna, Texas
Santa Anna is a town in Coleman County, Texas, United States. The population was 1,081 at the 2000 census.-Geography:Santa Anna is located at ....

 and attended Highland Park High School
Highland Park High School (University Park, Texas)
Highland Park High School is located in University Park, Texas.Highland Park is a part of the Highland Park Independent School District. It serves all of the city of University Park, most of the town of Highland Park, and portions of Dallas.-History:...

 in Dallas
Dallas, Texas
Dallas is the third-largest city in Texas and the ninth-largest in the United States. The Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex is the largest metropolitan area in the South and fourth-largest metropolitan area in the United States...

. He played football
High school football
High school football, in North America, refers to the game of football as it is played in the United States and Canada. It ranks among the most popular interscholastic sports in both of these nations....

 with teammate Doak Walker
Doak Walker
Ewell Doak Walker, Jr. was an American football player who is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was a teammate of Bobby Layne in high school and the NFL.-Early life:...

.

College career


One of the greatest quarterbacks ever to play for Texas, Layne was selected to four straight All-Southwest Conference teams from 1944-1947. He was one of the first inductees into the Cotton Bowl Hall of Fame. In the 1946 Cotton Bowl Classic, where Texas beat Missouri
Missouri Tigers football
The Missouri Tigers football team represents the University of Missouri in NCAA Division I FBS college football. The team has competed in the North Division of the Big 12 Conference since the conference's inception in 1996...

 40-27, Layne accounted for every point, scoring four touchdowns, kicking four extra points and throwing for two other scores. In 1946, Layne finished 8th in Heisman Trophy
Heisman Trophy
The Heisman Memorial Trophy Award , is awarded annually to the player deemed the most outstanding player in collegiate football. It was created in 1935 as the Downtown Athletic Club trophy and renamed in 1936 following the death of the Club's athletic director, John Heisman The Heisman Memorial...

 balloting to Glenn Davis of Army
United States Military Academy
The United States Military Academy at West Point is a four-year coeducational federal service academy located at West Point, New York. The academy sits on scenic high ground overlooking the Hudson River, north of New York City...

 and in 1947 he finished 6th to John Lujack
Johnny Lujack
John Christopher Lujack Jr. is a former American football quarterback and 1947 Heisman Trophy winner.Lujack was born on January 4, 1925, in Connellsville, Pennsylvania. He played college football for the University of Notre Dame, and professionally for the Chicago Bears. Lujack was the first of...

 of Notre Dame
Notre Dame Fighting Irish football
Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team is the football team of the University of Notre Dame. The team is currently coached by Brian Kelly.Notre Dame competes as an Independent at the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision level, and is a founding member of the Bowl Championship Series coalition. It is an...

, and was voted the Outstanding Back in the 1948 Sugar Bowl
Sugar Bowl
The Sugar Bowl is an annual American college football bowl game played in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Sugar Bowl has been played annually since January 1, 1935, and celebrated its 75th anniversary on January 2, 2009...

 victory over #6 Alabama
Alabama Crimson Tide football
|TeamName = Alabama football |Image = Alabama Crimson Tide Logo.svg |ImageSize = 110 |Helmet = Alabama Football.png |ImageSize2 = 150 |CurrentSeason = 2011 Alabama Crimson Tide football team...

. Layne finished his Texas career with a school record 3,145 passing yards on 210 completions and 400 attempts. Layne also had success in baseball as a pitcher for Texas as well. In his career as a pitcher he threw two no hitters.

Professional career


Drafted into the National Football League
National Football League
The National Football League is the highest level of professional American football in the United States, and is considered the top professional American football league in the world. It was formed by eleven teams in 1920 as the American Professional Football Association, with the league changing...

 by the Chicago Bears
Chicago Bears
The Chicago Bears are a professional American football team based in Chicago, Illinois. They are members of the North Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League...

, Layne was the 3rd overall selection in the 1948 NFL Draft
1948 NFL Draft
The 1948 National Football League Draft was held on December 19, 1947 at the Fort Pitt Hotel in Pittsburgh.-Player selections:-Round one:-Round two:-Round three:-Round four:-Round five:-Round six:-Round seven:-Round eight:...

 and was the 2nd overall selection in the 1948 AAFC
All-America Football Conference
The All-America Football Conference was a professional American football league that challenged the established National Football League from 1946 to 1949. One of the NFL's most formidable challengers, the AAFC attracted many of the nation's best players, and introduced many lasting innovations...

 Draft by the Baltimore Colts
Baltimore Colts (1947-50)
The Baltimore Colts were a professional American football team based in Baltimore, Maryland. The first team to bear the name Baltimore Colts, they were members of the All-America Football Conference from 1947–1949, and then joined the National Football League for one season before folding...

. Layne was offered $77,000 to play for the Colts, but George Halas
George Halas
George Stanley Halas, Sr. , nicknamed "Papa Bear" and "Mr. Everything", was a player, coach, owner and pioneer in professional American football. He was the iconic longtime leader of the NFL's Chicago Bears...

 "sweet talked" him into signing with the Bears. He promised a slow rise to fame in the "big leagues" with a no-trade understanding. After one season, Layne was the third-string quarterback, behind both Sid Luckman
Sid Luckman
Sidney Luckman, known as Sid Luckman, was an American football quarterback for the Chicago Bears of the National Football League from 1939 to 1950...

 and Johnny Lujack
Johnny Lujack
John Christopher Lujack Jr. is a former American football quarterback and 1947 Heisman Trophy winner.Lujack was born on January 4, 1925, in Connellsville, Pennsylvania. He played college football for the University of Notre Dame, and professionally for the Chicago Bears. Lujack was the first of...

, and refused to return to the Bears and tried to engineer his own trade to the Green Bay Packers
Green Bay Packers
The Green Bay Packers are an American football team based in Green Bay, Wisconsin. They are members of the North Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League . The Packers are the current NFL champions...

. Halas, preoccupied with fending off a challenge from the AAFC
All-America Football Conference
The All-America Football Conference was a professional American football league that challenged the established National Football League from 1946 to 1949. One of the NFL's most formidable challengers, the AAFC attracted many of the nation's best players, and introduced many lasting innovations...

, traded Layne to the New York Bulldogs
New York Yanks
The New York Yanks American football team played in the National Football League under that name in the 1950 and 1951 seasons. In 1949, Boston Yanks owner Ted Collins had requested the NFL to fold his Boston team and give him a new one in New York City...

 for their #1 draft pick and $50,000 cash. The cash was to be paid in four installments. The team won only one game and lost 11, but Layne played well and developed quickly. Layne compared one season with the soon-defunct New York Bulldogs as worth five seasons in the NFL. In 1950, Layne was traded to the Detroit Lions
Detroit Lions
The Detroit Lions are a professional American football team based in Detroit, Michigan. They are members of the North Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League , and play their home games at Ford Field in Downtown Detroit.Originally based in Portsmouth, Ohio and...

 for defensive end
Defensive end
Defensive end is the name of a defensive position in the sport of American and Canadian football.This position has designated the players at each end of the defensive line, but changes in formations have substantially changed how the position is played over the years...

 Bob Mann
Bob Mann (American football)
Robert "Bob" Mann was an American football end. A native of New Bern, North Carolina, Mann played college football at Hampton Institute in 1942 and 1943 and at the University of Michigan in 1944, 1946 and 1947. He broke the Big Ten Conference record for receiving yardage in 1946 and again in 1947...

. The Lions also picked up the tab and made the final three payments to Halas (Halas would remark later that the Lions should have continued the yearly payments indefinitely to him in view of Layne's performance).

From 1950-1955, Layne was re-united with his great friend and Highland Park High School teammate Doak Walker
Doak Walker
Ewell Doak Walker, Jr. was an American football player who is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was a teammate of Bobby Layne in high school and the NFL.-Early life:...

. In 1952, Bobby led the Detroit Lions to their first NFL Championship
NFL Championship Game, 1952
The 1952 National Football League championship game was the 20th annual championship game. The NFL title game was held on December 28, 1952 at Cleveland Municipal Stadium, Cleveland, Ohio....

 in 17 years. Layne would repeat this in 1953 for back to back NFL Championships
NFL Championship Game, 1953
The 1953 National Football League championship game was the 21st annual championship game. The NFL title game was held on December 27, 1953 at Briggs Stadium, Detroit, Michigan. The game was a rematch to the 1952 game between the Detroit Lions and Cleveland Browns.The Detroit Lions had finished...

, but fell short of a three-peat when the Detroit Lions lost to the Cleveland Browns
Cleveland Browns
The Cleveland Browns are a professional football team based in Cleveland, Ohio. They are currently members of the North Division of the American Football Conference in the National Football League...

 in the 1954 NFL Championship Game
NFL Championship Game, 1954
The 1954 National Football League championship game was the 22nd annual championship game. The NFL title game was held on December 26, 1954, at Cleveland Municipal Stadium, Cleveland, Ohio. This was the third straight title game between the Detroit Lions and the Cleveland Browns.The Detroit Lions...

. In 1957, Layne was leading the Lions toward another Championship when fate stepped in. In a game late in the season Layne broke his leg in three places during a pileup. His replacement, Tobin Rote
Tobin Rote
Tobin Cornelius Rote was an American college and professional football player who played quarterback for the NFL's Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions, the Canadian Football League's Toronto Argonauts, and the American Football League's San Diego Chargers and Denver Broncos.-Early life:Rote...

, finished the season and led the Lions to victory in the 1957 NFL Championship Game
NFL Championship Game, 1957
The 1957 National Football League championship game was the 25th annual championship game. The NFL title game was held on December 29, 1957 at Briggs Stadium, Detroit, Michigan. The game was the fourth pairing of the Detroit Lions and Cleveland Browns in the championship game...

.

During his career, Layne played for the Chicago Bears
Chicago Bears
The Chicago Bears are a professional American football team based in Chicago, Illinois. They are members of the North Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League...

 (1948), New York Bulldogs (1949), Detroit Lions
Detroit Lions
The Detroit Lions are a professional American football team based in Detroit, Michigan. They are members of the North Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League , and play their home games at Ford Field in Downtown Detroit.Originally based in Portsmouth, Ohio and...

 (1950–1958) and the Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh Steelers
The Pittsburgh Steelers are a professional football team based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The team currently belongs to the North Division of the American Football Conference in the National Football League . Founded in , the Steelers are the oldest franchise in the AFC...

 (1958–1962). After retiring from 15 seasons in the NFL, Layne held the career records for both passes attempted (3,700) and completed(1,814), as well as yards gained passing (26,768) and passing touchdowns (196). Layne was not the most gifted or talented person in the NFL at the time, his passes sometimes looked like wounded ducks on the field, but his drive, leadership, and clutch play (he is credited with creating the two-minute offense) made him great. Layne was one of the last players to play in the NFL without a facemask
The Helmet Project
The Helmet Project is a website which illustrates the evolution of the gridiron football helmets since 1960. This year was chosen as a cut-off point as hard-shell helmets had fully replaced obsolete leather headgear by this point, plus there are very few color photographs that illustrate football...

.

After football


After retirement, Layne stated the biggest disappointment in his football career was having never won a championship for the Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh Steelers
The Pittsburgh Steelers are a professional football team based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The team currently belongs to the North Division of the American Football Conference in the National Football League . Founded in , the Steelers are the oldest franchise in the AFC...

 and especially, Art Rooney
Art Rooney
Arthur Joseph "Art" Rooney, Sr. , often referred to as "The Chief", was the founding owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers American football franchise in the National Football League.-Family history:...

. Layne did serve as an assistant coach for the Steelers after his retirement on the staff of Buddy Parker
Buddy Parker
Raymond "Buddy" Parker is a former football player and coach in the National Football League who served as head coach for three teams: the Chicago Cardinals, the Detroit Lions and the Pittsburgh Steelers....

.

Layne was known more for his leadership and determination than for pure athletic ability. According to Doak Walker
Doak Walker
Ewell Doak Walker, Jr. was an American football player who is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was a teammate of Bobby Layne in high school and the NFL.-Early life:...

, "Layne never lost a game...time just ran out on him." Layne was voted into the Texas Longhorn Hall of Honor in 1963 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame
Pro Football Hall of Fame
The Pro Football Hall of Fame is the hall of fame of professional football in the United States with an emphasis on the National Football League . It opened in Canton, Ohio, on September 7, 1963, with 17 charter inductees...

 in 1967. In a special issue in 1995, Sports Illustrated
Sports Illustrated
Sports Illustrated is an American sports media company owned by media conglomerate Time Warner. Its self titled magazine has over 3.5 million subscribers and is read by 23 million adults each week, including over 18 million men. It was the first magazine with circulation over one million to win the...

 called him "The Toughest Quarterback Who Ever Lived." In 1999, he was ranked number 52 on the Sporting News list of Football's 100 Greatest Players. Layne may not have been among the greatest quarterback in stats, but he was one of the greatest quarterbacks in leadership and bravery. He used to play without a facemask and usually drove himself to the edge of physical endurance.

Layne, often accompanied by Alex Karras
Alex Karras
Alexander George "Alex" Karras , nicknamed "The Mad Duck", is a former football player, professional wrestler, and actor, best known for his stint with the Detroit Lions of the National Football League from 1958–1962 and 1964-1970 and for his role as Mongo in the film Blazing Saddles...

, was also famous for his late-night bar-hopping
Pub crawl
A pub crawl is the act of one or more people drinking in multiple pubs or bars in a single night, normally walking or busing to each one between drinking.-Origin of the term:...

, and his heavy drinking may have led to his death shortly before his 60th birthday. Layne is reported to have stated: "If I'd known I was gonna live this long, I'd have taken a lot better care of myself." That line was later used by baseball legend Mickey Mantle
Mickey Mantle
Mickey Charles Mantle was an American professional baseball player. Mantle is regarded by many to be the greatest switch hitter of all time, and one of the greatest players in baseball history. Mantle was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1974.Mantle was noted for his hitting...

, a Dallas neighbor and friend of Layne's, who also died in part due to alcohol abuse. Layne also suffered from cancer
Cancer
Cancer , known medically as a malignant neoplasm, is a large group of different diseases, all involving unregulated cell growth. In cancer, cells divide and grow uncontrollably, forming malignant tumors, and invade nearby parts of the body. The cancer may also spread to more distant parts of the...

 during his last years, which may have been a factor in his death.

The Curse of Bobby Layne


In 1958, the Lions traded Layne to the Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh Steelers
The Pittsburgh Steelers are a professional football team based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The team currently belongs to the North Division of the American Football Conference in the National Football League . Founded in , the Steelers are the oldest franchise in the AFC...

. Layne responded to the trade by supposedly saying that the Lions would "not win for 50 years". This story has been disputed as being a hoax
Hoax
A hoax is a deliberately fabricated falsehood made to masquerade as truth. It is distinguishable from errors in observation or judgment, or rumors, urban legends, pseudosciences or April Fools' Day events that are passed along in good faith by believers or as jokes.-Definition:The British...

, particularly because the quote was never published at the time.

Still, for the next 50 years after the trade, the Lions accumulated the worst winning percentage of any team in the NFL. They are still one of only two franchises that have been in the NFL since 1970 that have not played in a Super Bowl
Super Bowl
The Super Bowl is the championship game of the National Football League , the highest level of professional American football in the United States, culminating a season that begins in the late summer of the previous calendar year. The Super Bowl uses Roman numerals to identify each game, rather...

  (the other team is the Cleveland Browns
Cleveland Browns
The Cleveland Browns are a professional football team based in Cleveland, Ohio. They are currently members of the North Division of the American Football Conference in the National Football League...

). The Lions only made the playoffs nine times in those last 50 seasons, have one post-season win (1991), and three Division
NFC North
The NFC North is a division of the National Football League's National Football Conference, based in the Upper Midwest region of the United States...

 titles (1983, 1991, and 1993). The 1st time the Detroit Lions returned to the playoffs after the Layne era was in 1970. This ended a 13-year drought, but the team lost to the Dallas Cowboys
Dallas Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys are a professional American football franchise which plays in the Eastern Division of the National Football Conference of the National Football League . They are headquartered in Valley Ranch in Irving, Texas, a suburb of Dallas...

, 5-0, in what is still the lowest scoring playoff game of all time. The 2008 season, the supposed final year of the curse, saw Detroit finish with a winless 0-16 record, the worst in NFL history.

Coincidentally, in the 2009 NFL Draft
2009 NFL Draft
The 2009 NFL Draft was the seventy-fourth annual meeting of National Football League franchises to select newly eligible football players. The draft took place at Radio City Music Hall in New York City on April 25 and 26, 2009. The draft consisted of two rounds on the first day starting at 4:00...

, right after the curse supposedly expired, the Detroit Lions drafted University of Georgia
University of Georgia
The University of Georgia is a public research university located in Athens, Georgia, United States. Founded in 1785, it is the oldest and largest of the state's institutions of higher learning and is one of multiple schools to claim the title of the oldest public university in the United States...

 quarterback Matthew Stafford
Matthew Stafford
John Matthew Stafford is an American football quarterback for the Detroit Lions of the National Football League. He was drafted by the Lions first overall in the 2009 NFL Draft. He played college football at the University of Georgia....

 first-overall. He came from Highland Park High School
Highland Park High School (University Park, Texas)
Highland Park High School is located in University Park, Texas.Highland Park is a part of the Highland Park Independent School District. It serves all of the city of University Park, most of the town of Highland Park, and portions of Dallas.-History:...

, the same high school as Layne. Stafford also lived in a house on the same street as Layne's.

External links


{{Portal|Biography}}

{{Navbox
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Robert Lawrence "Bobby" Layne (December 19, 1926 – December 1, 1986) was an American football
American football
American football is a sport played between two teams of eleven with the objective of scoring points by advancing the ball into the opposing team's end zone. Known in the United States simply as football, it may also be referred to informally as gridiron football. The ball can be advanced by...

 quarterback
Quarterback
Quarterback is a position in American and Canadian football. Quarterbacks are members of the offensive team and line up directly behind the offensive line...

 who played for 15 seasons in the National Football League
National Football League
The National Football League is the highest level of professional American football in the United States, and is considered the top professional American football league in the world. It was formed by eleven teams in 1920 as the American Professional Football Association, with the league changing...

. He played for the Chicago Bears
Chicago Bears
The Chicago Bears are a professional American football team based in Chicago, Illinois. They are members of the North Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League...

 in 1948
1948 NFL season
The 1948 NFL season was the 29th regular season of the National Football League. During the season, Halfback Fred Gehrke painted horns on the Los Angeles Rams' helmets, making the first modern helmet emblem in pro football. The season ended when the Philadelphia Eagles defeated the Chicago...

, the New York Bulldogs in 1949
1949 NFL season
The 1949 NFL season was the 30th regular season of the National Football League. Prior to the season, Boston Yanks owner Ted Collins asked the league to fold his team due to financial woes, and give him a new one in New York City...

, the Detroit Lions
Detroit Lions
The Detroit Lions are a professional American football team based in Detroit, Michigan. They are members of the North Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League , and play their home games at Ford Field in Downtown Detroit.Originally based in Portsmouth, Ohio and...

 from 1950
1950 NFL season
The 1950 NFL season was the 31st regular season of the National Football League. The merger with the All-America Football Conference expanded the league to 13 teams. Meanwhile, television brought a new era to the game. The Los Angeles Rams became the first NFL team to have all of its games – both...

1958
1958 NFL season
The 1958 NFL season was the 39th regular season of the National Football League.The Baltimore Colts defeated the New York Giants, 23–17, in the first sudden-death overtime in an NFL Championship Game...

, and the Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh Steelers
The Pittsburgh Steelers are a professional football team based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The team currently belongs to the North Division of the American Football Conference in the National Football League . Founded in , the Steelers are the oldest franchise in the AFC...

 from 1958
1958 NFL season
The 1958 NFL season was the 39th regular season of the National Football League.The Baltimore Colts defeated the New York Giants, 23–17, in the first sudden-death overtime in an NFL Championship Game...

1962
1962 NFL season
The 1962 NFL season was the 43rd regular season of the National Football League. Before the season, CBS signed a contract with the league to televise all regular-season games for a $4.65 million annual fee....

. He was drafted by the Bears in the first round of the 1948 NFL Draft
1948 NFL Draft
The 1948 National Football League Draft was held on December 19, 1947 at the Fort Pitt Hotel in Pittsburgh.-Player selections:-Round one:-Round two:-Round three:-Round four:-Round five:-Round six:-Round seven:-Round eight:...

. He played college football
College football
College football refers to American football played by teams of student athletes fielded by American universities, colleges, and military academies, or Canadian football played by teams of student athletes fielded by Canadian universities...

 at the University of Texas
Texas Longhorns football
The Texas Longhorns football program is the intercollegiate football team representing The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas. The team currently competes in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision as a member of the Big 12 Conference which is a Division I Bowl Subdivision of the National...

.

He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame
Pro Football Hall of Fame
The Pro Football Hall of Fame is the hall of fame of professional football in the United States with an emphasis on the National Football League . It opened in Canton, Ohio, on September 7, 1963, with 17 charter inductees...

 in 1967 and inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame
College Football Hall of Fame
The College Football Hall of Fame is a hall of fame and museum devoted to college football. Located in South Bend, Indiana, it is connected to a convention center and situated in the city's renovated downtown district, two miles south of the University of Notre Dame campus. It is slated to move...

 in 1968. His number, 22, has been retired by the University of Texas Longhorns
Texas Longhorns football
The Texas Longhorns football program is the intercollegiate football team representing The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas. The team currently competes in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision as a member of the Big 12 Conference which is a Division I Bowl Subdivision of the National...

 and Detroit Lions
Detroit Lions
The Detroit Lions are a professional American football team based in Detroit, Michigan. They are members of the North Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League , and play their home games at Ford Field in Downtown Detroit.Originally based in Portsmouth, Ohio and...

.

Early years


Layne was born in Santa Anna, Texas
Santa Anna, Texas
Santa Anna is a town in Coleman County, Texas, United States. The population was 1,081 at the 2000 census.-Geography:Santa Anna is located at ....

 and attended Highland Park High School
Highland Park High School (University Park, Texas)
Highland Park High School is located in University Park, Texas.Highland Park is a part of the Highland Park Independent School District. It serves all of the city of University Park, most of the town of Highland Park, and portions of Dallas.-History:...

 in Dallas
Dallas, Texas
Dallas is the third-largest city in Texas and the ninth-largest in the United States. The Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex is the largest metropolitan area in the South and fourth-largest metropolitan area in the United States...

. He played football
High school football
High school football, in North America, refers to the game of football as it is played in the United States and Canada. It ranks among the most popular interscholastic sports in both of these nations....

 with teammate Doak Walker
Doak Walker
Ewell Doak Walker, Jr. was an American football player who is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was a teammate of Bobby Layne in high school and the NFL.-Early life:...

.

College career


One of the greatest quarterbacks ever to play for Texas, Layne was selected to four straight All-Southwest Conference teams from 1944-1947. He was one of the first inductees into the Cotton Bowl Hall of Fame. In the 1946 Cotton Bowl Classic, where Texas beat Missouri
Missouri Tigers football
The Missouri Tigers football team represents the University of Missouri in NCAA Division I FBS college football. The team has competed in the North Division of the Big 12 Conference since the conference's inception in 1996...

 40-27, Layne accounted for every point, scoring four touchdowns, kicking four extra points and throwing for two other scores. In 1946, Layne finished 8th in Heisman Trophy
Heisman Trophy
The Heisman Memorial Trophy Award , is awarded annually to the player deemed the most outstanding player in collegiate football. It was created in 1935 as the Downtown Athletic Club trophy and renamed in 1936 following the death of the Club's athletic director, John Heisman The Heisman Memorial...

 balloting to Glenn Davis of Army
United States Military Academy
The United States Military Academy at West Point is a four-year coeducational federal service academy located at West Point, New York. The academy sits on scenic high ground overlooking the Hudson River, north of New York City...

 and in 1947 he finished 6th to John Lujack
Johnny Lujack
John Christopher Lujack Jr. is a former American football quarterback and 1947 Heisman Trophy winner.Lujack was born on January 4, 1925, in Connellsville, Pennsylvania. He played college football for the University of Notre Dame, and professionally for the Chicago Bears. Lujack was the first of...

 of Notre Dame
Notre Dame Fighting Irish football
Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team is the football team of the University of Notre Dame. The team is currently coached by Brian Kelly.Notre Dame competes as an Independent at the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision level, and is a founding member of the Bowl Championship Series coalition. It is an...

, and was voted the Outstanding Back in the 1948 Sugar Bowl
Sugar Bowl
The Sugar Bowl is an annual American college football bowl game played in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Sugar Bowl has been played annually since January 1, 1935, and celebrated its 75th anniversary on January 2, 2009...

 victory over #6 Alabama
Alabama Crimson Tide football
|TeamName = Alabama football |Image = Alabama Crimson Tide Logo.svg |ImageSize = 110 |Helmet = Alabama Football.png |ImageSize2 = 150 |CurrentSeason = 2011 Alabama Crimson Tide football team...

. Layne finished his Texas career with a school record 3,145 passing yards on 210 completions and 400 attempts. Layne also had success in baseball as a pitcher for Texas as well. In his career as a pitcher he threw two no hitters.

Professional career


Drafted into the National Football League
National Football League
The National Football League is the highest level of professional American football in the United States, and is considered the top professional American football league in the world. It was formed by eleven teams in 1920 as the American Professional Football Association, with the league changing...

 by the Chicago Bears
Chicago Bears
The Chicago Bears are a professional American football team based in Chicago, Illinois. They are members of the North Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League...

, Layne was the 3rd overall selection in the 1948 NFL Draft
1948 NFL Draft
The 1948 National Football League Draft was held on December 19, 1947 at the Fort Pitt Hotel in Pittsburgh.-Player selections:-Round one:-Round two:-Round three:-Round four:-Round five:-Round six:-Round seven:-Round eight:...

 and was the 2nd overall selection in the 1948 AAFC
All-America Football Conference
The All-America Football Conference was a professional American football league that challenged the established National Football League from 1946 to 1949. One of the NFL's most formidable challengers, the AAFC attracted many of the nation's best players, and introduced many lasting innovations...

 Draft by the Baltimore Colts
Baltimore Colts (1947-50)
The Baltimore Colts were a professional American football team based in Baltimore, Maryland. The first team to bear the name Baltimore Colts, they were members of the All-America Football Conference from 1947–1949, and then joined the National Football League for one season before folding...

. Layne was offered $77,000 to play for the Colts, but George Halas
George Halas
George Stanley Halas, Sr. , nicknamed "Papa Bear" and "Mr. Everything", was a player, coach, owner and pioneer in professional American football. He was the iconic longtime leader of the NFL's Chicago Bears...

 "sweet talked" him into signing with the Bears. He promised a slow rise to fame in the "big leagues" with a no-trade understanding. After one season, Layne was the third-string quarterback, behind both Sid Luckman
Sid Luckman
Sidney Luckman, known as Sid Luckman, was an American football quarterback for the Chicago Bears of the National Football League from 1939 to 1950...

 and Johnny Lujack
Johnny Lujack
John Christopher Lujack Jr. is a former American football quarterback and 1947 Heisman Trophy winner.Lujack was born on January 4, 1925, in Connellsville, Pennsylvania. He played college football for the University of Notre Dame, and professionally for the Chicago Bears. Lujack was the first of...

, and refused to return to the Bears and tried to engineer his own trade to the Green Bay Packers
Green Bay Packers
The Green Bay Packers are an American football team based in Green Bay, Wisconsin. They are members of the North Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League . The Packers are the current NFL champions...

. Halas, preoccupied with fending off a challenge from the AAFC
All-America Football Conference
The All-America Football Conference was a professional American football league that challenged the established National Football League from 1946 to 1949. One of the NFL's most formidable challengers, the AAFC attracted many of the nation's best players, and introduced many lasting innovations...

, traded Layne to the New York Bulldogs
New York Yanks
The New York Yanks American football team played in the National Football League under that name in the 1950 and 1951 seasons. In 1949, Boston Yanks owner Ted Collins had requested the NFL to fold his Boston team and give him a new one in New York City...

 for their #1 draft pick and $50,000 cash. The cash was to be paid in four installments. The team won only one game and lost 11, but Layne played well and developed quickly. Layne compared one season with the soon-defunct New York Bulldogs as worth five seasons in the NFL. In 1950, Layne was traded to the Detroit Lions
Detroit Lions
The Detroit Lions are a professional American football team based in Detroit, Michigan. They are members of the North Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League , and play their home games at Ford Field in Downtown Detroit.Originally based in Portsmouth, Ohio and...

 for defensive end
Defensive end
Defensive end is the name of a defensive position in the sport of American and Canadian football.This position has designated the players at each end of the defensive line, but changes in formations have substantially changed how the position is played over the years...

 Bob Mann
Bob Mann (American football)
Robert "Bob" Mann was an American football end. A native of New Bern, North Carolina, Mann played college football at Hampton Institute in 1942 and 1943 and at the University of Michigan in 1944, 1946 and 1947. He broke the Big Ten Conference record for receiving yardage in 1946 and again in 1947...

. The Lions also picked up the tab and made the final three payments to Halas (Halas would remark later that the Lions should have continued the yearly payments indefinitely to him in view of Layne's performance).

From 1950-1955, Layne was re-united with his great friend and Highland Park High School teammate Doak Walker
Doak Walker
Ewell Doak Walker, Jr. was an American football player who is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was a teammate of Bobby Layne in high school and the NFL.-Early life:...

. In 1952, Bobby led the Detroit Lions to their first NFL Championship
NFL Championship Game, 1952
The 1952 National Football League championship game was the 20th annual championship game. The NFL title game was held on December 28, 1952 at Cleveland Municipal Stadium, Cleveland, Ohio....

 in 17 years. Layne would repeat this in 1953 for back to back NFL Championships
NFL Championship Game, 1953
The 1953 National Football League championship game was the 21st annual championship game. The NFL title game was held on December 27, 1953 at Briggs Stadium, Detroit, Michigan. The game was a rematch to the 1952 game between the Detroit Lions and Cleveland Browns.The Detroit Lions had finished...

, but fell short of a three-peat when the Detroit Lions lost to the Cleveland Browns
Cleveland Browns
The Cleveland Browns are a professional football team based in Cleveland, Ohio. They are currently members of the North Division of the American Football Conference in the National Football League...

 in the 1954 NFL Championship Game
NFL Championship Game, 1954
The 1954 National Football League championship game was the 22nd annual championship game. The NFL title game was held on December 26, 1954, at Cleveland Municipal Stadium, Cleveland, Ohio. This was the third straight title game between the Detroit Lions and the Cleveland Browns.The Detroit Lions...

. In 1957, Layne was leading the Lions toward another Championship when fate stepped in. In a game late in the season Layne broke his leg in three places during a pileup. His replacement, Tobin Rote
Tobin Rote
Tobin Cornelius Rote was an American college and professional football player who played quarterback for the NFL's Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions, the Canadian Football League's Toronto Argonauts, and the American Football League's San Diego Chargers and Denver Broncos.-Early life:Rote...

, finished the season and led the Lions to victory in the 1957 NFL Championship Game
NFL Championship Game, 1957
The 1957 National Football League championship game was the 25th annual championship game. The NFL title game was held on December 29, 1957 at Briggs Stadium, Detroit, Michigan. The game was the fourth pairing of the Detroit Lions and Cleveland Browns in the championship game...

.

During his career, Layne played for the Chicago Bears
Chicago Bears
The Chicago Bears are a professional American football team based in Chicago, Illinois. They are members of the North Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League...

 (1948), New York Bulldogs (1949), Detroit Lions
Detroit Lions
The Detroit Lions are a professional American football team based in Detroit, Michigan. They are members of the North Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League , and play their home games at Ford Field in Downtown Detroit.Originally based in Portsmouth, Ohio and...

 (1950–1958) and the Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh Steelers
The Pittsburgh Steelers are a professional football team based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The team currently belongs to the North Division of the American Football Conference in the National Football League . Founded in , the Steelers are the oldest franchise in the AFC...

 (1958–1962). After retiring from 15 seasons in the NFL, Layne held the career records for both passes attempted (3,700) and completed(1,814), as well as yards gained passing (26,768) and passing touchdowns (196). Layne was not the most gifted or talented person in the NFL at the time, his passes sometimes looked like wounded ducks on the field, but his drive, leadership, and clutch play (he is credited with creating the two-minute offense) made him great. Layne was one of the last players to play in the NFL without a facemask
The Helmet Project
The Helmet Project is a website which illustrates the evolution of the gridiron football helmets since 1960. This year was chosen as a cut-off point as hard-shell helmets had fully replaced obsolete leather headgear by this point, plus there are very few color photographs that illustrate football...

.

After football


After retirement, Layne stated the biggest disappointment in his football career was having never won a championship for the Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh Steelers
The Pittsburgh Steelers are a professional football team based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The team currently belongs to the North Division of the American Football Conference in the National Football League . Founded in , the Steelers are the oldest franchise in the AFC...

 and especially, Art Rooney
Art Rooney
Arthur Joseph "Art" Rooney, Sr. , often referred to as "The Chief", was the founding owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers American football franchise in the National Football League.-Family history:...

. Layne did serve as an assistant coach for the Steelers after his retirement on the staff of Buddy Parker
Buddy Parker
Raymond "Buddy" Parker is a former football player and coach in the National Football League who served as head coach for three teams: the Chicago Cardinals, the Detroit Lions and the Pittsburgh Steelers....

.

Layne was known more for his leadership and determination than for pure athletic ability. According to Doak Walker
Doak Walker
Ewell Doak Walker, Jr. was an American football player who is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was a teammate of Bobby Layne in high school and the NFL.-Early life:...

, "Layne never lost a game...time just ran out on him." Layne was voted into the Texas Longhorn Hall of Honor in 1963 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame
Pro Football Hall of Fame
The Pro Football Hall of Fame is the hall of fame of professional football in the United States with an emphasis on the National Football League . It opened in Canton, Ohio, on September 7, 1963, with 17 charter inductees...

 in 1967. In a special issue in 1995, Sports Illustrated
Sports Illustrated
Sports Illustrated is an American sports media company owned by media conglomerate Time Warner. Its self titled magazine has over 3.5 million subscribers and is read by 23 million adults each week, including over 18 million men. It was the first magazine with circulation over one million to win the...

 called him "The Toughest Quarterback Who Ever Lived." In 1999, he was ranked number 52 on the Sporting News list of Football's 100 Greatest Players. Layne may not have been among the greatest quarterback in stats, but he was one of the greatest quarterbacks in leadership and bravery. He used to play without a facemask and usually drove himself to the edge of physical endurance.

Layne, often accompanied by Alex Karras
Alex Karras
Alexander George "Alex" Karras , nicknamed "The Mad Duck", is a former football player, professional wrestler, and actor, best known for his stint with the Detroit Lions of the National Football League from 1958–1962 and 1964-1970 and for his role as Mongo in the film Blazing Saddles...

, was also famous for his late-night bar-hopping
Pub crawl
A pub crawl is the act of one or more people drinking in multiple pubs or bars in a single night, normally walking or busing to each one between drinking.-Origin of the term:...

, and his heavy drinking may have led to his death shortly before his 60th birthday. Layne is reported to have stated: "If I'd known I was gonna live this long, I'd have taken a lot better care of myself." That line was later used by baseball legend Mickey Mantle
Mickey Mantle
Mickey Charles Mantle was an American professional baseball player. Mantle is regarded by many to be the greatest switch hitter of all time, and one of the greatest players in baseball history. Mantle was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1974.Mantle was noted for his hitting...

, a Dallas neighbor and friend of Layne's, who also died in part due to alcohol abuse. Layne also suffered from cancer
Cancer
Cancer , known medically as a malignant neoplasm, is a large group of different diseases, all involving unregulated cell growth. In cancer, cells divide and grow uncontrollably, forming malignant tumors, and invade nearby parts of the body. The cancer may also spread to more distant parts of the...

 during his last years, which may have been a factor in his death.

The Curse of Bobby Layne


In 1958, the Lions traded Layne to the Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh Steelers
The Pittsburgh Steelers are a professional football team based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The team currently belongs to the North Division of the American Football Conference in the National Football League . Founded in , the Steelers are the oldest franchise in the AFC...

. Layne responded to the trade by supposedly saying that the Lions would "not win for 50 years". This story has been disputed as being a hoax
Hoax
A hoax is a deliberately fabricated falsehood made to masquerade as truth. It is distinguishable from errors in observation or judgment, or rumors, urban legends, pseudosciences or April Fools' Day events that are passed along in good faith by believers or as jokes.-Definition:The British...

, particularly because the quote was never published at the time.

Still, for the next 50 years after the trade, the Lions accumulated the worst winning percentage of any team in the NFL. They are still one of only two franchises that have been in the NFL since 1970 that have not played in a Super Bowl
Super Bowl
The Super Bowl is the championship game of the National Football League , the highest level of professional American football in the United States, culminating a season that begins in the late summer of the previous calendar year. The Super Bowl uses Roman numerals to identify each game, rather...

  (the other team is the Cleveland Browns
Cleveland Browns
The Cleveland Browns are a professional football team based in Cleveland, Ohio. They are currently members of the North Division of the American Football Conference in the National Football League...

). The Lions only made the playoffs nine times in those last 50 seasons, have one post-season win (1991), and three Division
NFC North
The NFC North is a division of the National Football League's National Football Conference, based in the Upper Midwest region of the United States...

 titles (1983, 1991, and 1993). The 1st time the Detroit Lions returned to the playoffs after the Layne era was in 1970. This ended a 13-year drought, but the team lost to the Dallas Cowboys
Dallas Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys are a professional American football franchise which plays in the Eastern Division of the National Football Conference of the National Football League . They are headquartered in Valley Ranch in Irving, Texas, a suburb of Dallas...

, 5-0, in what is still the lowest scoring playoff game of all time. The 2008 season, the supposed final year of the curse, saw Detroit finish with a winless 0-16 record, the worst in NFL history.

Coincidentally, in the 2009 NFL Draft
2009 NFL Draft
The 2009 NFL Draft was the seventy-fourth annual meeting of National Football League franchises to select newly eligible football players. The draft took place at Radio City Music Hall in New York City on April 25 and 26, 2009. The draft consisted of two rounds on the first day starting at 4:00...

, right after the curse supposedly expired, the Detroit Lions drafted University of Georgia
University of Georgia
The University of Georgia is a public research university located in Athens, Georgia, United States. Founded in 1785, it is the oldest and largest of the state's institutions of higher learning and is one of multiple schools to claim the title of the oldest public university in the United States...

 quarterback Matthew Stafford
Matthew Stafford
John Matthew Stafford is an American football quarterback for the Detroit Lions of the National Football League. He was drafted by the Lions first overall in the 2009 NFL Draft. He played college football at the University of Georgia....

 first-overall. He came from Highland Park High School
Highland Park High School (University Park, Texas)
Highland Park High School is located in University Park, Texas.Highland Park is a part of the Highland Park Independent School District. It serves all of the city of University Park, most of the town of Highland Park, and portions of Dallas.-History:...

, the same high school as Layne. Stafford also lived in a house on the same street as Layne's.

External links


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{{Succession box| title=Pittsburgh Steelers Starting Quarterbacks | before=Earl Morrall
Earl Morrall
Earl Edwin Morrall is a former American football quarterback in the National Football League. Morrall, who also occasionally punted, played 21 seasons in the National Football League as both a starter and reserve. In the latter capacity, he became known as the greatest backup quarterback in NFL...

| years=1958-1962| after=Ed Brown
Ed Brown (quarterback)
Charles Edward Brown was an American football quarterback and punter in the National Football League.-Prior to the NFL:...

}}
{{S-end}}
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{{Persondata
| NAME =Layne, Bobby
| ALTERNATIVE NAMES =
| SHORT DESCRIPTION =
| DATE OF BIRTH =December 19, 1926
| PLACE OF BIRTH =Santa Anna, Texas
| DATE OF DEATH =December 1, 1986
| PLACE OF DEATH =Lubbock, Texas
}}
{{DEFAULTSORT:Layne, Bobby}}