[This post originally part of the Potvin Spotlight series.]
Bobby Layne is best known for being the best quarterback to ever play for the Detroit Lions. While under center for the Lions, Layne led them to three league championships and was voted All-Pro twice. The Lions thought he was so good that they traded him to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
When Layne found out he was traded, he put a curse on the Lions and said they would not win for 50 years. The Lions have since won hundreds of games, proving Layne to be overwhelmingly incorrect. However, the Lions have now gone 51 years without winning a championship and have only won one playoff game since Layne’s departure. Many Detroit fans call this curse “The Bobby Layne Bitchslap.”
Layne, who has been inducted into the Hall of Fame, was called “the toughest quarterback who ever lived,” by Sports Illustrated. Legendary running back Doak Walker said that “Layne never lost a game – time just ran out on him.” The numbers clearly prove just how good Bobby Layne was, as he retired as the NFL’s career leader in passes attempted and completed, as well as passing touchdowns, with 196. Layne also had 243 interceptions and a 63.4 career QB rating, and only threw more touchdown passes than interceptions in just 3 of his 16 seasons. Best quarterback ever? Maybe – Like I said, certainly the best Lions quarterback ever.
At the end of his career, Layne said his biggest regret was not winning a championship for Pittsburgh. When asked why he didn’t regret throwing nearly 250 interceptions more, he told reporters “I’ve gotta go – This bottle ain’t gonna drink itself.”
Layne was indeed known for his heavy drinking. Layne had many late-night bar hopping adventures, and eventually died from liver damage at age 59.
Bobby Layne is also remembered for being a quarterback that wore the number 22, which is now considered a highly unorthodox and very untraditional number for a quarterback. When asked why he insisted on wearing 22, Layne usually told reporters to “kiss [his] ass” and then threw empty beer bottles at them. Layne’s catch phrase was “Layne’s in this house now, bitch,” which he typically said when entering the locker room or his home.
Celebrated quarterback/womanizer/senseless drunk, Bobby Layne
Layne frequently played football without a helmet “for good luck” as he was known to say.