YALE LARY

YALE LARY

Class of 1979
Defensive Back >>> 5-11, 185
(Texas A&M)
1952-1953, 1956-1964 Detroit Lions

Robert Yale Lary. . .Major contributor to three Lions championships. . . 11-year fixture at right safety, exceptional punter, long-distance threat on kick returns. . .Lifetime marks show 50 interceptions, 44.3-yard punting average, three NFL punting crowns, three TDs on punt returns. . .All-NFL five years. . .In nine Pro Bowls. . .Third-round pick, 1952. . . Career interrupted by army service. . .Born November 24, 1930, in Fort Worth, Texas.

Detroit Lions fans recall Yale Lary in many different ways. Some remember him as a superb right safety, a key cog in Detroit's fearsome defensive platoon in the 1950s and 1960s. Others will tell you he was one of history's truly great punters. Still others say it was his breakaway ability on punt returns that set him apart from all the rest.

In reality, each assessment is correct because the multi-talented Texas A&M product did all of those things superbly well during his 11 years with the Lions. There is no question that Yale's defensive play was exceptional. A fixture at right safety throughout his career, he was named to the All-NFL team five times and played in nine Pro Bowls. His career mark showed 50 interceptions and he might well have had many more had not opposition quarterbacks avoided throwing in his area.

Still those who remember Lary as a superb punter have plenty of reason to do so. His career average of 44.3 yards on 503 punts places him among the best ever. He won three NFL punting titles and missed a fourth by a razor-thin margin. "Kicking from the end zone, Yale invariably put the ball across midfield with enough hang time to let us cover the kick," team captain and Hall of Fame linebacker Joe Schmidt recalled. "He made our defense look good because he always gave us room to work."

While Lary's outstanding exploits might be remembered in different ways, all who saw him play undoubtedly would agree that he was a rare find, the kind that comes along only once in a generation. Comparatively small at 5-11 and 185 pounds but armed with a big heart and great ability, he did much to make the Lions a championship team.

Year
Team
G
Int
Yds.
Avg
TD
FumRec.
Yds.
TD
Punt
Yds.
Avg.
1952 Detroit
12
4
61
15.3
0
1
0
0
5
181
36.2
1953 Detroit
11
5
98
19.6
0
0
0
0
28
1112
39.7
1956 Detroit
12
8
182
22.8
1
1
0
0
42
1698
40.4
1957 Detroit
12
2
64
32.0
0
3
0
0
54
2156
39.9
1958 Detroit
12
3
70
23.3
0
1
0
0
59
2524
42.8
1959 Detroit
10
3
0
0.0
0
2
38
1
45
2121
47.1
1960 Detroit
12
3
44
14.7
0
0
0
0
64
2802
43.8
1961 Detroit
14
6
95
15.8
0
0
0
0
52
2519
48.4
1962 Detroit
14
8
51
6.4
0
3
38
0
52
2354
45.3
1963 Detroit
10
2
21
10.5
1
1
0
0
35
1713
48.9
1964 Detroit
14
6
101
16.8
0
1
0
0
67
3099
46.3
Career Total
133
50
787
15.7
2
13
76
1
503
22279
44.3
 
           
Year
Team
G
No.
Yds.
Avg.
TD
           
1952 Detroit
12
16
182
11.4
1
           
1953 Detroit
11
13
115
8.8
1
           
1956 Detroit
12
22
70
3.2
0
           
1957 Detroit
12
25
139
5.6
0
           
1958 Detroit
12
27
196
7.3
1
           
1959 Detroit
10
21
43
2.0
0
           
1960 Detroit
12
1
5
5.0
0
           
1961 Detroit
14
1
8
8.0
0
           
1962 Detroit
14
0
0
0.0
0
           
1963 Detroit
10
0
0
0.0
0
           
1964 Detroit
14
0
0
0.0
0
           
Career Total
133
126
758
6.0
3
           
Additional Career Statistics: Passing: 4-0; Rushing: 10-153; Kickoff Returns: 22-495
Full Name: Robert Yale Lary

Birthdate: November 24, 1930

Birthplace: Fort Worth, Texas

High School: North Side (Fort Worth, Texas)

Elected to Pro Football Hall of Fame: January 20, 1979

Enshrined into Pro Football Hall of Fame:
July 28, 1979

Presenter: Buster Ramsey, defensive coach with Lions

Other Members of Class of 1979: Dick Butkus, Ron Mix, Johnny Unitas

Pro Career: 11 seasons, 133 games

Drafted: 3rd round (34th overall) in 1952 by Detroit Lions

Uniform Number: 28

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