We are through the first quarter in our countdown of the greatest Detroit Lions in franchise history. Checking in number 75, in this Thursday edition of 100 Days, 100 Detroit Lions, we honor an undersized two-way tackle who is the first player in our countdown who was a member of the Lions’ 1934 NFL championship team.
75. Jack Johnson
Tackle. 1934-40 Detroit
Another of the great early Lions, Johnson joined the team upon their move from Portsmouth to Motown in 1934. Jack had played his college ball at the University of Utah. He and fellow tackle George Christensen would soon become one of the best duos in the NFL, helping to open holes for Dutch Clark and the rest of the Detroit running attack.
At 6-foot-4, and 216 pounds, Jack was a bit undersized for a tackle even by the standards of his era. Nevertheless, he was a force in the Lions’ single-wing offense, helping Detroit to their first NFL Championship in 1935. Johnson would play through the 1940 season, earning his lone Pro Bowl trip after the 1939 campaign. It was in 1940 when the Lions would finish without a winning record for the first time in their history, going 5-5-1 for head coach Potsy Clark. During Johnson’s seven-year career, the Lions compiled a 50-28-3 record. The decade of the 1940’s would be lean years for the Detroit franchise, as they would manage to win a total of only 30 games from 1941-49. It would take the Lions until Thanksgiving Day 1952, when they defeated the Packers 48-24, for the Detroit franchise to reach the 100-victory-mark.