Class of 1996 enshrinee Lou Creekmur died Sunday at the age of 82. A stalwart for the Detroit Lions dominant teams of the 1950s, he earned All-NFL acclaim twice as a guard and four times at tackle.
Originally drafted out of William & Mary in 1948 by the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFL Draft and by the Los Angeles Dons in the rival All-America Football Conference (AAFC), Creekmur opted to forego his football career to pursue a Master’s degree. Two years later after he completed his eligibility, the AAFC had just folded and Creekmur was placed in a frozen player pool by the NFL. The Lions took him with its second round pick in the ’50 draft.
An extremely strong and durable athlete, Creekmur earned a starting role as a rookie. He played so well that he was named a starter in the Pro Bowl following the season. It marked the first of his eight Pro Bowl berths.
After starting his career at guard, Creekmur was shifted to the defensive front in 1955 due to a shortage caused by injuries. The following year he was moved back to offense and lined up at tackle where he remained for the rest of his playing career.
“Lou Creekmur’s outstanding contributions to pro football are well documented,” commented Steve Perry, the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s President/Executive Director. “He was truly an exceptional offensive linemen who quietly and effectively went about his business of blocking for runners such as Hall of Famer Doak Walker and protecting his quarterback Bobby Layne.
“Also, the fact that Lou achieved such a high level of success while playing multiple positions speaks volumes about his athletic ability and it is part of what makes his legacy as football player so unique.”
Born in Hopelawn, NJ on January 22, 1927, Creekmur played tackle in high school before enrolling at William & Mary. His college career was interrupted by two years of service in the U.S. Army before he returned to school. In 1949, his senior year, Creekmur won the Jacobs Blocking Trophy, played in the Senior Bowl and competed in the College All-Star Game. He also lettered in track and set a school record in the shot put.
Creekmur won All-NFL honors at guard for the first of two straight seasons following his second year. He was named All-NFL at tackle in 1953, 1954, 1956, and 1957. He won three NFL championships with Detroit (1952, 1953, and 1957).
He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame as the senior nominee in 1996. His enshrinement permanently placed him among the game’s all-time best that also included his Lions teammates – Layne, Walker, safeties Jack Christiansen and Yale Lary, linebacker Joe Schmidt, and fullback John Henry Johnson.
“I’ve lead a pretty lucky life for an old beat up football player,” shared Creekmur during 1996 enshrinement speech from the Hall’s front steps. “I never thought that when I went out for football at Woodridge High School in 1943, yeah ’43, that someday I’d be standing up here at a podium being inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.”
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PHOTO GALLERY: Lou Creekmur