In today’s edition of 100 Days, 100 Detroit Lions, we pay tribute to a forgotten All-Pro performer who starred during the first of the Lions many “Dark Ages.”
70. John “Socko” Wiethe
Offensive Guard / Linebacker. 1939-42 Detroit
Wiethe came to the Lions in 1939 after a stint in the Midwest Football League, which was a southern Ohio minor league. Before that, the Cincinnati native played college football and basketball at nearby Xavier University. The 6-foot, 198 pound Wiethe was one of the best players on some subpar Lion teams. In 1941 and ‘42, he played alongside future Hall of Fame center Alex Wojciechowicz and fellow guard Augie Lio, giving the Lions one of the league’s best offensive lines. However, even with all that talent up front, the Lions of Coach Bill Edwards would only to manage to win four games in those two seasons.
Detroit’s 1942 team would earn the distinction of being the first Lion team in history to finish winless, as they went 0-11. It was a terrible year all around, as Coach Edwards was fired by owner Fred Mandell in the tunnel at the end of a 28-7 loss to the Brooklyn Dodgers in mid-season. Assistant John Karcis was promoted, or maybe in this case demoted, to Lion skipper to finish out the winless nightmare. Wiethe was named All-Pro in 1940.