With the recent Nick Saban “Professional Mishandling” apology I thought for the first “History Highlight” it maybe good to take a moment and look back at how it all began. Way before 11 -5 turnarounds, before “I guess I’ll have to say it, I’m not going to Alabama” before JJ, 1-15 failures and even before the Jaw there was George Wilson.
This is our first, “History Highlight”: George Wilson
Ok he never had a winning season for us but he did start to put together the foundations for one of the NFL’s greatest franchises. Let’s not forget he drafted a lot of the core players from the undefeated season. Now that’s not to say he was a better coach than Shula and probably would not have won as much either! but when you see the names it raises the question that he could spot talent and to highlight this, think what he did while head coach of Detroit. He traded ageing superstar quarterback Bobby Layne to the Pittsburgh Steelers for a younger quarterback Earl Morrall (yes our Earl Morrall). Ok Morrall was no out and out superstar but the guy played 21 years, 2 Probowls and won 3 Superbowls, think he knew something?
So where did Georges credentials come from? Well after he finished college at North Western University. He had a very productive pro career playing both TE & DE finishing with 111 career receptions! Between 1936 – 1946 come on! these guys probably threw the ball 2-3 times a game! Winning four titles along the way.
He got his first head coaching gig in 1957 with Detroit winning the championship that same year. After a couple of poor seasons he bounced back to have 3 more winning seasons he went 5-8-1 then finishing with a lackluster 7-5-2 he lost his job.
Taking a brand new franchise from scratch must of been hard, after all how many coaches have achieved winning records immediately? (Answers on a post card please). In all honesty getting replaced by one of the hottest new young coaches, seeing guys you drafted respond, win and seeing the franchise you helped start do so well after you were ousted ( the old woulda, coulda, shoulda comes to mind).
Wilson finished up living in his hometown of Chicago, IL until his 1978 death, but his role in the Detroit Lions‘ last NFL Championship led to his 1980 induction to the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame and he should not be forgotten by us Dolfans considering some of the stuff we have had to put up with in the last decade.
A look at George Wilson’s draft choices (recognise any names?)
Norm Evans T
Dick Westmoreland CB
Howard Twilley WR
Bob Griese QB
Larry Seiple P/RB
Larry Csonka RB
Doug Crusan T
Dick Anderson S
Jim Kiick RB
Bill Stanfill DE
Bob Heinz DT
Mercury Morris RB
Ed Tuck G
Lloyd Mumphord CB
Thanks again for reading the first History Highlight, if you have a particular player of highlight you wish revisiting feel free to holla back