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The Curse of Bobby Layne: The Story of The Detroit Lions Painful 50 Year Drought

Updated on June 11, 2013
Bobby Layne
Bobby Layne | Source
The Lions win percentage from when Bobby Lane was with them, to when he was not with them.
The Lions win percentage from when Bobby Lane was with them, to when he was not with them. | Source

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The Lions have never really been a great team in it’s many years as a franchise. It looks like there’s a reason for that. Apparently, there was a curse on the team for 50 years.

In 1958, The Lions were the top dogs of the NFL winning three Championship games. Their Quarterback Bobby Layne was the main reason for all of Detroit’s success. However, after that season, the star Quarterback got traded. He was injured and everyone thought he was done. When this happened, Layne decided that he would put a curse on the franchise. One that lasted 50 years. On his way to Pittsburgh, he said that Detroit “Would not win for fifty years.” If you don’t believe it, there’s plenty of proof supporting this curse.

While Bobby Layne was playing for the Detroit Lions, their percentage was .643 from 1950-1958. From 1959 to 1971, the percentage fell to .490. From 1971-1992, it got worse. In the 70’s. their win percentage was .444. Then in the 80’s, it was .383. However, there was temporary hope when NFL Hall of Fame Running Back Barry Sanders came in during the 90’s. Their win percentage with Sanders was .513. Then when Barry Sanders retired, the Lions would go through the worst part of their curse during the Matt Millen ERA. Their win percentage under Millen was at an all time low at .277. When Millen was fired, Lions fans literally held a funeral for that time period wanting to bury this painful time. Their was an actually casket and hearse for this event.

One of the most unbelievable records in the NFL to this date is the Lions losing streak when it came to playing on the road. Since October 27th 2007, they had a 26 game losing streak, and have recently brought that streak to an end on December 19th 2010, when they beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in an overtime win. Every year, NFL teams play eight games at home, and eight games away. They were losing on the road for over 3 years when this streak was happening.

In the years before the curse, The Lions played very well in the playoffs with a 6-1 record along with three championships. After Bobby Layne got traded and put a curse on them, their playoff record took a huge turn. They’ve been 1-9 in the playoffs ever since the trade. In their first playoff game since Layne left in 1970, the Lions lost to the Cowboys 5-0. It took 12 years for Detroit to score in the playoffs.

In the last year of the Bobby Layne curse in 2008, Detroit Lion fans finally looked forward to a winning season. Unfortunately, this would be the last and the worst year they’ve ever had. There had been winless teams in the NFL before that went 0-12 and 0-14. No team though had ever gone 0-16. Well guess what? That’s exactly what happened to the lions in their last year of the curse. It was one of the (if not the worst) worse seasons in NFL history.

As of now, it appears that the Bobby Layne Curse is finally coming to an end. Matthew Stafford seems to be a promising Quarterback that can get them to the big game. The Quarterback position was the position that was giving them the most trouble during the curse. Bobby Layne was a Quarterback. Hopefully in their case, they can finally see some big victories coming their way.


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    • manofmystery24 profile image

      manofmystery24 4 years ago

      Thanks WiccanSage!

    • WiccanSage profile image

      Mackenzie Sage Wright 4 years ago

      Wow, interesting story. Good hub.