In today’s edition of 100 Days, 100 Detroit Lions, we pay tribute to a former Grambling Tiger who became a playmaking “Hound Dog” as a member of Detroit’s secondary.
82. James Hunter
Defensive Back. 1976-82 Detroit
The “Hound Dog” came to the Lions as their first-overall selection in the 1976 NFL draft. The 6-foot-3, 195 pound defensive back had played football at Grambling State under legendary coach Eddie Robinson. As with many of Robinson’s pupils, Hunter’s transition to the NFL went well. He led Detroit with 7 interceptions as a rookie. One of which, against the Atlanta Falcons, went for a touchdown in the following video.
Hunter would prove to be adept at all four secondary positions, and would play extensively at all of them at different points during his Lion career. He would lead Detroit in interceptions on two more occasions, in 1977 at left cornerback (6), and in 1980 at right cornerback (6). In addition to his defensive work, he was also an adept kickoff returner. In limited duty, Hunter’s career numbers are 19 kickoff returns for 491 yards, giving him a whopping 25.8 yard average.
Unfortunately, Hunter’s career would come to a premature end during a 1982 game versus Minnesota, when he suffered numbness in his arms and legs after injuring his neck. Rather than risk further injury, Hunter made the decision to retire. He ended his Lion career with 27-career interceptions, a number that ranks the Hound Dog seventh-place in Detroit’s record book.