Bobby Layne, during his 15 pro football seasons, was a free-spirited All-NFL caliber quarterback who did well statistically but was exceptional in the intangibles – leadership, determination, competitiveness, and guts.
Layne left pro football with a legend that may never be exactly duplicated. Bobby's story deals with sterling accomplishments on the field but also with his penchant for enjoying every moment off the field, even if that meant on occasion a big night on the town just hours before a crucial game. While it’s likely some of Layne's off-the-field activities have been exaggerated, there is no question he did not always subscribe to the general rules of team behavior.
So it may be that Layne's pro football success hinged on the relationship he developed with a wise and understanding coach, Raymond "Buddy" Parker, who understood what made Bobby tick. The two combined their talents to produce the most successful years in Detroit Lions history.
The Lions won divisional crowns in 1952, 1953, and 1954, and NFL titles in 1952 and 1953. In both title game victories, Layne and the Lions defeated the Cleveland Browns. In the 1953 game Bobby enjoyed his greatest and certainly most famous afternoon. The Browns held a 16-10 advantage with 4:10 left to play. Layne coolly directed the team on an 80-yard touchdown drive that combined with Doak Walker’s extra point kick, gave the Lions a 17-16 win.
In 1957, Parker left the Lions to coach the Pittsburgh Steelers. Layne and the Lions won the NFL championship that season. One year later, Layne joined Parker in Pittsburgh through a trade. The Parker-Layne duo provided the Steelers with some of their finest seasons up to that time. Bobby Layne was a never-say-die competitor. His longtime friend and fellow Hall of Famer Doak Walker once said admiringly of his teammate: "Bobby never lost a game. Some days, time just ran out on him."