In this Friday edition of 100 Days, 100 Detroit Lions, we pay tribute to a two-way AAFC castoff who became of of the cornerstones of the Lions rise to the top of the NFL heap in the early 1950s.
61. Bob Smith
Defensive Back / Halfback / Wingback. 1949-54 Detroit; 1948 Buffalo Bisons (AAFC); 1948 Brooklyn Dodgers (AAFC); 1949 Chicago Rockets (AAFC)
Bob Smith joined the NFL’s Lions in 1949, after a nomadic two-year career in the rival AAFC, where he played with three teams. He became a stellar defensive back for the Lions, recording 29 interceptions in 62 games during his six-year Motor City career. He was a charter member of Jack Christiansen’s legendary Chris’s Crew secondary. Smith played right defensive halfback, opposite Jim David and in front of future Hall of Fame safeties Yale Lary and Christiansen. In 1952, Smith would earn All-Pro honors and a trip to the Pro Bowl by picking off a career-high nine passes, returning them for a total of 184 yards.
Bob would help Detroit to their first two championships of the 1950’s, in 1952 and ‘53. His 29 career interceptions still place him sixth in Lions’ history. He would be kicked off the team by head coach Buddy Parker mid-way through the 1954 season, after a physical confrontation with assistant coach Buster Ramsey over diminished playing time.