Former Detroit Lions quarterback Bobby Layne was an easy choice as an inductee into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Too bad there's not an official Party Hall of Fame because Layne would have been an easy choice for that one, too.
"The secret to a happy life is to run out of cash and air at the same time," Layne once said.
Layne was known almost as well for his legendary carousing as he was for his exploits on the gridiron. But it certainly didn't seem to affect his performance.
It was 50 years ago that Layne became a member of the Lions and helped turn them into the team of the 1950s.
Some reports say the New York Bulldogs traded Layne for fullback Camp Wilson. Others say Detroit purchased his rights from the Bulldogs. Either way, the Lions were glad to have him.
Heading into the 1950s, Detroit was an organization looking to recapture its glory of the 1930s. The Lions won the NFL Championship in 1935 and had a few solid teams in the ensuing years. But the 1940s were miserable, with just two winning seasons.
That all changed soon after Layne's arrival.
After a respectable 6-6 finish in 1950, Layne led the Lions to four division crowns and three NFL titles over the next seven years. While he loved having a good time away from the field, Layne was a fierce competitor on it. He was the last player to play without a facemask and was said to compete without much protective padding. Perhaps his biggest contribution to the game was the popularization of the two minute offense. "Bobby never lost a game," said the late Doak Walker, a childhood friend and Lions teammate. "Time just ran out on him."
Layne was never better than in the 1953 title game against the Cleveland Browns, when he solidified his reputation as a pressure player. A Lou Groza field goal with less than five minutes remaining in the game gave the Browns a 16-10 lead. Layne and the Lions took over on their own 20. Layne needed just three completions and a short run to put Detroit in position for the win. On the eighth play of the drive, he hit Jim Doran for a 33-yard scoring strike. Walker's extra point gave the Lions a 17-16 lead and the Detroit defense secured the win, and the team's second straight championship, with an interception on Cleveland's ensuing series. Although Layne missed the 1957 postseason and the Lions' third title of the decade with a broken ankle, he did put them in position for that championship by leading them to an 8-4 regular season record. However, 1957 proved to be the last hurrah for the Lions. The team traded its star quarterback to the Pittsburgh Steelers after two games in 1958, where he played until he retired after the 1962 season.
The Lions haven't won an NFL title since.
Layne's career numbers pale in comparison to recent stars such as John Elway and Dan Marino, but he was the game's most prolific passer at the time of his retirement with 26, 768 passing yards. And Layne, who died in 1986 at 59, didn't have the benefit of a 16-game season like today's players. There are more than 30 vintage Layne cards available from his playing days, not to mention more than 25 more recent releases. Among the most popular are the 1948 Leaf, the 1950 Bread for Health, the 1950 Bowman and the 1952 Bowman Large.