Years later, the ghosts of Detroit’s past still linger

When the Detroit Lions throttled the Green Bay Packers on Monday night, a familiar name of the team’s past came up.

By not having to punt in Monday’s game, the Lions achieved something that hadn’t been accomplished since Thanksgiving of 1971.

They repeated a feat on that long-ago day by not having to punt once in the game.

It was pointed out that Greg Landry was the quarterback of the Lions back then.

Now, Landry was supposed to be the next great quarterback in Motown since, well, Bobby Layne.

The same Layne who invoked the now-famous playoff curse on the team when they traded him to Pittsburgh after the 1959 season.

A little-known product from the University of Massachusetts, Landry came in with a reputation as a QB who could run and pass. In short, he looked like the real deal.

In fact, he posted two seasons where he rushed for more than 500 yards.

He once went some 90 yards for a touchdown in a game versus Green Bay. 

He was named All-Pro in the 1971 season when he led the Lions into the playoffs by passing for 16 touchdowns and piling up 530 yards rushing.

In 1976, after overcoming an injury, he was named Comeback Player of the Year for his efforts.

But the game — actually one play — I best remember Landry for came in the 1971 playoffs versus the Dallas Cowboys.

Trailing 5-0 late in the game, Landry had an open Earl McCulloch racing down the

sidelines for what might have been the winning score.

Instead, Landry overthrew McCulloch and Detroit lost by that peculiar 5-0 score.

I watched a replay (there was no satellite TV) of the game in an Army theater in Neureut, Germany. I thought it was a tough break but figured that better things would be coming.

Little did I know that future Detroit quarterbacks with names like Eric Hipple, Chuck Long, Charlie Batch, Andre Ware, Joey Harrington, etc. would never get as close as Greg Landry did on that grey, rainy day in Dallas.

And whenever I hear Landy’s game, I’m instantly transformed back to that musty theater in Germany.

And think of the Bobby Layne curse that lives on to this day.


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