In today’s edition of 100 Days, 100 Detroit Lions, we head back to the days when the Lions ruled the NFL roost by honoring a multi-position star who served in the Marine Corps in World War II before becoming a member of Notre Dame’s legendary late 1940’s football squads with future Lions’ teammate Leon Hart.
59. Jim Martin
Linebacker / Guard / Defensive End / Kicker. 1951-61 Detroit; 1950 Cleveland Browns; 1963 Baltimore Colts; 1964 Washington Redskins
One of the most versatile Lions franchise history, “Jungle Jim” was obtained by Buddy Parker from the Cleveland Browns in 1951 in exchange for Detroit’s 1952 first-round pick. Parker’s move would play big dividends, as Martin would become Mr. Everything for the Lions during his stellar eleven-year tenure in Detroit. He would spend his first Lion season at defensive end, filling in for former starter Jim Cain who had been recalled for Army duty. Martin would move to left guard in 1952 to replace Lou Creekmur, who had slid over to tackle. He would play at right guard in 1954 for a few games in place of the injured Dick Stanfel. Then in 1955 he would move to linebacker in the Lions new 4-3 defense, playing both outside positions at various times alongside middle man Joe Schmidt. He was voted Lion MVP by his teammates in 1959 for his play at linebacker and kicker.
In addition, Martin regularly served as the Lions’ kicker during the later part of his career. He would lead the team in scoring in 1958, 1960, and 1961, racking-up a combined 184 points over those three seasons. He still stands ninth on the Lions’ career scoring list with 259 points. In addition, Martin places in the top six among Lions all-time in career extra points (91), extra point attempts (95), field goals (56), and field goal attempts (125). His career-long field goal came in 1960, when he booted a 52-yarder in a 30-17 victory over the Baltimore Colts. The lone Pro Bowl trip of his career came after that season as well.