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L E’s Stories – “Legendary QB Trifecta For The Longhorns, Lions and Steelers” – Salute To Bobby Layne: A Texas Immortal

There have been many legendary sports personalities from Texas to include Ben Hogan (PGA), Doak Walker (NCAA + NFL Football), Rogers Hornsby (MLB), Jack Johnson (Heavyweight Boxing Champ), Michael Johnson (Track), A J Foyt (Auto Racing),  Babe Didrikson Zaharias (Track & Golf), Y A Title (NFL), Nolan Ryan (MLB), Shaquille O’Neal (NBA), George Foreman (Heavyweight Boxing Champ), Earl Campbell (NCAA + NFL), Mia Hamm (Soccer), Lance Armstrong (Cycling), Bobby Morrow (Track), Ernie Banks (MLB), Sammy Baugh (NFL), Byron Nelson (PGA) et al….but none of them had a star that hung higher than Bobby Layne’s…..who excelled at both football (NCAA + NFL Hall of Fame) and baseball (NCAA All-American)….and since Layne excelled at the University of Texas…..where Bone Daddy attended college in Austin, Tx….then that makes Layne a “Longhorn home boy”…..which puts him in a whole different category around here at ImaSportsphile…..therefore, I figured it was time to pay a tribute to this Texas Longhorn….Detroit Lion…. Pittsburgh Steelers legend…..for Bobby Layne was like a tough Marine Major who leads the charge up San Juan Hill as a true leader of men…..so, as we see it, Bobby Layne was the “perfect trifecta” worthy of his own tribute here in our vintage video museum…..as a one of a kind Longhorn legend….cuz we simply say, thanks for the memories.                                                                                    

NCAA Football & NFL – CBS Sports Special – Legends of the Game – Bobby Layne – With Host Brent Musburger

Bobby Layne (December 19, 1926 – December 1, 1986) was an American football quarterback who played for 15 seasons in the National Football League….when he played for the Chicago Bears in 1948….the New York Bulldogs in 1949….the Detroit Lions from 1950–1958….and the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1958–1962…. as Layne was originally selected by the Bears with the 3rd overall pick of the 1948 NFL draft.  He played college football and baseball at the University of Texas….where he significantly excelled as an All American in both.  Layne was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1967 and the College Football Hall of Fame in 1968.  His number, 22, has been retired by the University of Texas Longhorns and Detroit Lions.

 

NFL – 1958 – Special Film – “The Curse Of Bobby Layne”
 

Born in Santa Anna, Texas, Layne’s family moved when he was very young to Fort Worth….where he attended elementary and junior high school….then his mother died when he was only eight years old…. and Layne moved in with his uncle and aunt, Mr. and Mrs. Wade Hampton….when he attended Highland Park High School in University Park, a suburb just north of Dallas….where he was a teammate of fellow future hall of famer Doak Walker, the Heisman Trophy winner in 1948 for the SMU Mustangs….and a pro teammate with the Detroit Lions.  In his senior year, Layne was named to the all-state football team….then  played in the Oil Bowl All-Star game…..while leading Highland Park to the state playoffs.                                           

NFL – 1948 To 1962 – Special Film – The Hall of Fame Career Of Bobby Layne

One of the most successful quarterbacks ever to play for Texas, Layne was selected to four straight All-Southwest Conference teams from 1944–47….and was a consensus All-American in in both football and baseball.  Layne was part of the “Greatest Generation” who played college and pro ball during the World War II years….which caused a shortage of players….while creating rules changes to allow freshmen to play on the varsity…. thereby allowing Layne a four-year career…..for playing as a freshman was sporadic and only allowed by various conferences during wartime….but the universally accepted rule to make freshmen eligible didn’t happen until 1972.  In his freshman season, Layne became a very rare player in that era to start his first game….then he missed his second game due to an injury….and was replaced by future North Texas transfer Zeke Martin….but Layne played the rest of the season…..and led the Longhorns to within one point of the Southwest Conference Championship when they lost to TCU 7–6 on a missed extra point.  Prior to and during his sophomore year, he spent eight months in the Merchant Marines….while serving with his friend Doak Walker…..so, he missed the first six games of the season….and was replaced by Jack Halfpenny. The last game he missed was the team’s only loss, to Rice, by one point….as Texas went 10–1….and won the Southwest Conference despite playing only half a season, Layne again made the all-conference team.  In the Cotton Bowl Classic following that season, Texas beat Missouri 40–27….and Layne played perhaps the best game of his entire football career…..when he set several NCAA and Cotton Bowl records that have lasted well into the 21st century.  In that game, he completed 11 of 12 passes….and accounted for every one of the team’s 40 points….while scoring four touchdowns….kicking four extra points….and throwing for two other scores….and thus was named the game’s MVP.                                                                                                                                                                         

NCAA Football – 1946 – Cotton Bowl Classic Highlights – Missouri Tigers Vs Texas Longhorns – Featuring UT QB Bobby Layne

In 1946, the Longhorns were ranked 1st in the preseason for the first time….but after beating #20              Arkansas, they were upset by #16 Rice….and later by unranked TCU….so, they went 8–2 and finished 3rd in the conference….while being ranked 15th nationally….and therefore missed out on any bowl games. Layne led the Southwest Conference in total offense with 1420 yards….of which 1115 yards were on passes….and a punting average of 42 yards per punt….which also led the SWC….and despite the unexpected finish, Layne was named All-Conference again….and finished 8th in the Heisman Trophy balloting to Glenn Davis of Army.  In 1947, Blair Cherry replaced Dana X. Bible as head coach for the Longhorns….and he decided to install the T-formation offense…..as Cherry, Layne and their wives spent several weeks in Wisconsin studying the new offense at the training camps of the Chicago Bears and Chicago Cardinals of the National Football League. The change was a success, as Layne led the Southwest Conference in passing yards….while making the All-Conference and All-American teams….and finished 6th in Heisman Trophy voting to John Lujack of Notre Dame.  The Longhorns, after beating #19 North Carolina, started the season ranked 3rd….then they beat #15 Oklahoma….but as happened in 1945, Texas was again denied an undefeated season by a missed extra point….when after coming back once against Walker’s #8 SMU team….that is when Texas again found itself behind late in the game….. when  Layne engineered a 4th-quarter touchdown drive that would have tied the game….but kicker Frank Guess pushed the extra point wide and the Longhorns lost 14–13.  They fell to 8th….and finished behind SMU in the Southwest Conference….but garnered an invitation to the Sugar Bowl….where Layne and the Longhorns beat #6 Alabama…..and as a result of his 10-24, 183 yard performance, Layne won the inaugural Miller-Digby award presented to the game’s most valuable player.  The Longhorns finished ranked 5th….which was the best finish in Layne’s career.  Bobby Layne finished his Texas career with a school-record 3,145 passing yards on 210 completions and 400 attempts and 28 wins.  Layne was one of the first inductees into the Cotton Bowl Hall of Fame and made the Cotton Bowl’s All-Decade team (1937–1949) for the 1940s. Later, both of Layne’s sons, Rob and Alan, played college football. Robert L. Layne, Jr., was a kicker for Texas, playing on the 1969 national championship team, and Alan played tight end for TCU in 1973.                                                                                                                                                                                  

NCAA Football – 1948 – Sugar Bowl Classic – Alabama Crimson Tide Vs Texas Longhorns – Featuring UT QB Bobby Layne

Layne was one of the best pitchers to ever play at Texas. He made the All-Southwest Conference team all four years he played, and played on teams that won all three Conference Championships available to them (none was named in 1944 due to World War II). He won his first career start, in 1944, when he was managed by his future football coach Blair Cherry, versus Southwestern, 14-1, in a complete-game, 15-strikeout performance.  Similar to football, he missed the 1945 season because he was in the Merchant Marines, but returned to play three more seasons. In 1946, he threw the school’s first and second no-hitters and posted a 12-4 record. In 1947, he went 12-1 and led Texas to a third-place finish in the first NCAA baseball Tournament.  In 1948, he went 9–0 and again helped Texas win the Southwest Conference, but though they qualified for it, Texas decided not to attend the 1948 NCAA tournament because the players felt they had too many obligations with family and jobs. Texas went 60–10 overall, and 41–2 in the SWC during Layne’s final three years in Austin. When his career was over, Layne had a perfect 28–0 conference record and set several school and conference records during his time on the team, including a few that still stand today. Between baseball and football, he was All-Conference an astounding eight times and won four conference championships.

 

NCAA Football – 1947 – Red River Rivalry Highlights – With Texas Longhorns Vs Oklahoma Sooners – Featuring Texas QB Bobby Layne

In 1948, after earning his degree in physical education, Layne played a season of minor league ball for the Lubbock Hubbers baseball team of the Class C West Texas–New Mexico League.  He went 6-5 with a 7.29 ERA, and had bids from the New York Giants, the Boston Red Sox, and the St. Louis Cardinals to join their staffs, but he preferred to go to the National Football League, where he could play immediately rather than grind out several years in the minor-league system.  Drafted into the National Football League by the Pittsburgh Steelers, Layne was the third overall selection in the 1948 NFL Draft and was the second overall selection in the 1948 AAFC Draft by the Baltimore Colts. Layne did not want to play for the Steelers, the last team in the NFL to use the single-wing formation, so his rights were quickly traded to the Chicago Bears.  He was offered $77,000 to play for the Colts, but George Halas “sweet talked” him into signing with the Bears….as Papa Bear promised Layne a slow rise to fame in the “big leagues” with a no-trade understanding.                                                                                                                                                        

NFL – 1959 – NFL Films Special – “The Trade That Brought On The Curse Of The Detroit Lions” – Bobby Layne To The Steelers

After one season with the Bears in 1948, during which Layne was the third-string quarterback behind both Sid Luckman and Johnny Lujack, Layne refused to return and tried to engineer his own trade to the Green Bay Packers. Halas, preoccupied with fending off a challenge from the AAFC, traded Layne to the New York Bulldogs for their first-round pick in the 1950 draft and $50,000 cash. The cash was to be paid in four installments.  With Layne at quarterback, the Bulldogs won only one game and lost 11….but Layne played well and developed quickly….as Layne compared one season with the soon-to-be-defunct New York Bulldogs as worth five seasons with any other NFL team.                                                                            

NFL – 1948 To 1963 – Special Film – Bobby Layne: Official NFL Hall Of Fame Biography

In 1950, he was traded to the Detroit Lions for wide receiver Bob Mann….and the Lions agreed to make the final three payments to Halas….who later remarked that the Lions should have continued the yearly payments indefinitely to him in view of Layne’s performance.  For the next five years, Layne was reunited with his great friend and Highland Park High School teammate Doak Walker….and together they helped make Detroit into a champion…..for in 1952, Layne led the Lions to their first NFL Championship in 17 years….and then did it again in 1953 for back-to-back league titles…..as they fell short of a 3-peat in 2954 ….when they lost 56–10 to Cleveland Browns in the NFL championship game…..for this was a loss which Layne explained by saying, “I slept too much last night.”                                                                                                

NFL – 1953 – NFL Championship Game Highlights – cleveland Browns Vs Detroit Lions – Featuring Otto Graham Vs Bobby Layne

In 1955, the team finished last in their conference….and Walker surprisingly retired at the top of his game. As Walker had been the team’s kicker….then Layne took over the kicking duties in 1956 and 1957….and in 1956 led the league in field goal accuracy.  In 1956, the Lions finished 2nd in the conference….while missing the championship game by only one point.  In 1957, the season of the Lions’ most recent NFL championship….when Layne broke his leg in three places in a pileup during the 11th game of the 12-game season…..when his replacement, Tobin Rote, finished the season and led the Lions to victory in the championship game in Detroit by a 59-14 rout of the Cleveland Browns.  After the second game of the 1958 season, Pittsburgh Steelers coach Buddy Parker, formerly in Detroit, arranged a trade on October 6 that brought Layne to the Steelers.  During his eight seasons in Detroit, the Lions won three NFL championships and Layne played in four Pro Bowls, made first team All-Pro twice, and at various times led the league in over a dozen single-season statistical categories.

 

NFL – 1948 To 1962 – # 7 On The NFL Top 10 Revenge Games Special – “Bobby Layne Ties The Lions”             

Following the trade, Layne played five seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers…..and albeit he made the Pro Bowl two more times….the fact remains that he never made it back to the playoffs….as the team’s best finish was 2nd in the conference in 1962.  During his last year in the NFL, he published his autobiography Always on Sunday…..in which he stated that the biggest disappointment in his football career was having never won a championship for the Pittsburgh Steelers and specifically, Art Rooney…. but when you think about it…before Bobby Layne showed up in the Steel City…..the Pittsburg Steelers were known as the “Loveable Losers”…..while not even having a winning season over the ten years prior to his arrival…..and Bobby Layne led them to a 7 – 4 – 1 season in his 1st year playing for Art Rooney….. while compiling a 33 wins to 26 losses record in his 5 years with Pittsburgh….so, it is little wonder that Bobby Layne is a Steelers legend.                                                                                                                                               

NFL – 1959 – Special Game Of The Week Highlights – N Y Giants Vs. Pittsburgh Steelers – Featuring Steelers QB Bobby Layne

By the time Layne retired before the 1963 season, he owned the NFL records for passing attempts (3,700), completions (1,814), touchdowns (196), yards (26,768) and interceptions (243)   He left the game as one of the last players to play without a facemask….and was credited with creating the two-minute drill.  Doak Walker said of him, “Layne never lost a game…time just ran out on him.”  Following his retirement as a player, Layne served as the quarterback coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1963–65….and the St. Louis Cardinals in 1965….plus, he was a scout for the Dallas Cowboys from 1966–67.  For his on-the-field exploits, Layne was inducted into a vast assortment of halls of fame….which included the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in 1960….the Longhorn Hall of Honor in 1963….the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1967….the state halls of fame in Michigan and Pennsylvania…..and the Texas High School Sports Hall of Fame in 1973.  In 2006, he was a finalist on the initial ballot for pre-1947 inductees to the College Baseball Hall of Fame….and he was a finalist again the following year.                                                                                                 

TV Ads & NFL – 1958 – Detroit Lions QB Bobby Layne For Marlboro Cigarettes

In a special issue in 1995, Sports Illustrated called Layne “The Toughest Quarterback Who Ever Lived.”  In 1999, he was ranked # 52 on the Sporting News’ list of Football’s 100 Greatest Players.  After retirement, Layne spent 24 years as a businessman back in Texas in Lubbock….while working with his old college coach, Blair Cherry….as his business ventures included farms, bowling alleys, real estate, oil and the stock market.  This basically provides sufficient evidence that Bobby Layne had a lot of West Texas in him…..cuz those folks just love entrepreneurship….while they are especially fond of  farms/ranches…. bowling alleys, oil, real estate and the stock market….which all makes his just another brother of anotherr mother to our Bone Daddy, the original Sportsphile.                                                                                                                                                            

NFL – 1956 – Game Of The Week Highlights – San Francisco 49’ers Vs Detroit Lions – With QB Bobby Layne Kicking Winning Field Goal

In his younger days, he, often accompanied by Alex Karras….who was well known for his late-night bar-hopping and heavy drinking…..who said of Layne, “He would drink six days a week and play football on Sunday”…..as his heavy drinking may have contributed to his death.  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.”….as that line was later used by baseball player Mickey Mantle, a Dallas neighbor and friend of Layne’s….who also died in part due to decades of alcohol abuse.  Layne suffered from cancer during his last years….and in November 1986, he traveled to Michigan to present the Hall of Fame ring and plaque to his old friend and teammate Doak Walker….but was hospitalized with intestinal bleeding in Pontiac after a reunion dinner with his former Detroit teammates. He returned to Lubbock on November 12…. but three days later was hospitalized again.  He died of cardiac arrest on December 1 in Lubbock and was buried there.  Doak Walker and three other members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame were among the pallbearers. “My only request,” he once said, “is that I draw my last dollar and my last breath at precisely the same instant.”  

 

NFL – 1950 To 1958 – Special Decade of Highlights – The Detroit Lions – With Star QB Bobby Layne

Bobby Layne was a WINNER….for he was what we have always called those guys that that didn’t look so pretty while playing…..but seemed to always be in the “winner’s circle”…..and he filled the boots of any tall Texan as “one tough hombre”…..who played hard on the field, while playing harder at night….cuz this athlete was the “Perfect Trifecta” as a Longhorn…..Lions…. and Steelers legend…..who made it to the Hall. 

 

NFL – 1948 To 1962 – Pro Football Hall Of Fame Presents – Two Minutes of Pro Football History – The Story Of Bobby Layne

 

 

 

 

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