To put it mildly, it’s been a while since the Detroit Lions were last National Football League Champions. In fact, the last time the Lions can boast the honor of calling themselves NFL Champions, Marilyn Monroe was still blowing in smoking pistols, Have Gun Will Travel was a popular CBS TV show, and Elvis Presley was All Shook Up. 1957. Almost seems like a different world a million miles away now.
With the Lions taking on the Browns on Thursday night at FirstEnergy Stadium it dawned on me that it was Cleveland that Detroit beat, dominated actually, 59-14, in their last championship appearance. 1957 might seem like a different world a million miles away, but in 2013 a million miles isn’t far enough away to hide from the Internet!
The 1957 NFL Championship Game was the 25th annual championship game held on December 29, 1957 at Briggs Stadium in Detroit, Michigan. The game was the fourth meeting of the Detroit Lions and Cleveland Browns in the championship game. The Lions beat the Browns in three of those four title games and have not appeared in or won a championship game (including the Super Bowl) since. The closest the Lions have come to the Super Bowl was when they lost the NFC Championship Game against the Washington Redskins in 1992.
While the Lions were without injured starting QB Bobby Layne, backup QB Tobin Rote filled in admirably, throwing four touchdown passes, completing twelve of nineteen passes for 280 yards, and running in for another TD. In 1957 Layne was leading the Lions toward another championship when fate stepped in. He broke his leg in three places during a pileup in a game late in the season. His replacement, Tobin Rote, finished the season and led the Lions to an NFL Championship Game victory.
It is said that the success of Tobin Rote inspired the Lions front office to rotate the two QBs the next season. Each quarter would be started by a different QB. Lore would have it that Bobby Layne became very frustrated at this and believed the team should only have one leader. In an interview with Sport Magazine he was quoted as saying, “The coaching staff was criticizing me openly and some of the Detroit writers were on my back. Everybody thought I was washed up”. Layne was considering retirement when he heard by way of a phone call from then Head Coach George Wilson to report to Pittsburgh, he had been traded for Earl Morral and two future draft picks. Layne would remark later that he considered it “a pretty crude way to brush him off after all those years”. Layne was stunned and hurt and it is during this time he was alleged to have cursed the Detroit Lions for fifty years. He may or may not have said it but Layne is quoted as saying “I’d like to win a championship for the Steelers and for myself to shove down Detroits throat” so we know the relationship was bad at the time. Layne never won that championship but many fans believe Detroit was cursed for the next fifty years with mostly bad play.
The game also featured now legendary NFL Hall of Fame RB Jim Brown who the Browns drafted sixth overall in the 1957 NFL Draft. Brown had 69 yards on twenty attempts with a TD, as well as, 106 return yards in the game.
Here is a link to watch the full video of the → 1957 NFL Championship Game
1957 NFL Championship Game Stats
|Net pass yards||95||296|
|Penalties (yards)||4 (60)||7 (52)|
- Detroit Lions Recliner Report (thesilverdomeblues.com)
- Lions @ Browns Preseason Week 2 (thesilverdomeblues.com)