Did a Reportedly Angry Bobby Layne Curse The Detroit Lions?

Published on January 12th, 2023 1:49 pm EST
Written By: Dave Manuel

Detroit Lion football team and the Curse of Bobby Layne. During the 1950s, the Detroit Lions were a dynasty.

From 1953-1957, the Detroit Lions won three championships.

Since 1957, the Detroit Lions have won just ONE playoff game, and they are generally regarded as one of the most inept franchises in the league.

Some people blame the "curse of Bobby Layne" for the franchise's woes.


Bobby Layne, who is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, was a great quarterback.

A 6x Pro Bowler and 2x passing yards leader, Layne was the engine of the Detroit Lions offense.

Late in the 1957 season, Layne broke his leg in multiple places. Little did he know that he would only play two more games with the Lions before being traded to Pittsburgh.

After the first two games of the 1958 season, Bobby Layne was traded to Pittsburgh for Earl Morrall and two draft picks.

Pittsburgh was desperate to shake things up, and the deal for the Lions was too good to pass up.

Layne, however, was a star.

Bobby Layne was reportedly furious with the mid-season trade and allegedly proclaimed that the Lions wouldn't win again for "50 years".

Layne, if he did utter those words (some dispute that he ever did), was certainly correct, as the Lions franchise would never achieve the same success that they did in the 1950s.


On paper, there was plenty of reason to trade Bobby Layne, especially for the haul that the Lions received.

Earl Morrall ended up being a very good quarterback, and one of the picks that the Lions received from Pittsburgh ended up being Roger Brown, who would ending up making five Pro Bowls.

In addition, the Lions had a quarterback controversy on their hands, as Layne and Tobin Rote were splitting the work before center to start the 1958 season.

The Lions had gotten off to a slow start to the 1958 season, and maybe the team's management was hoping that trading Layne would give the team a shot in the arm.

In addition, there were reportedly issues with Layne's hard-partying ways, and he had gotten into trouble with his drinking on multiple occasions.

On top of all of that, Layne was aging, as he was in his early 30s when he was traded to Pittsburgh.

Having said all of that, Layne had led the team to multiple titles and was still regarded as one of the best quarterbacks in the league. His teammates were furious with the trade, and the team would never recover.


There were no reporters that heard Layne talk about a 50-year curse on the franchise, though some of his teammates swear that he said it after learning of his trade.

Regardless of what did or didn't happen, the Lions have been one of the league's worst franchises since the Bobby Layne trade, and that's a fact.

Related Articles