We are up to number eighty-eight in our 100 Days, 100 Detroit Lions countdown. Today, we honor one of the best defensive stalwarts of the Wayne Fontes’ era.
88. Bennie Blades
Safety. 1988-96 Detroit; 1997 Seattle Seahawks
Known as a big hitter throughout his Detroit career, the 6-foot, 221 pound Blades arrived in Motown as the Lions’ number-one choice, and third-overall pick, in the 1988 NFL draft. He began his career at strong safety, and with the emergence of teammate William White, was later moved to free safety in 1990. In 1991, Blades earned his only career Pro Bowl appearance after helping the Lions to a regular-season franchise best 12-4 record and a birth in the NFC Championship Game. He was a two-time winner of the Lem Barney Defensive MVP Award (1993, ‘96). With the later honor coming after he led the team in tackles that season with 132, while adding 2 interceptions, returning one for a touchdown.
Bennie ranks second in Lion history (since 1973), behind only teammate Chris Spielman, in career tackles with 815. After a bitter contract dispute with Lions’ management in 1995, Bennie left the Motor City to join his brother Brian Blades on the Seattle Seahawks. He would play ten games for Seattle in 1997, before a serious spinal injury forced him into retirement.