Jack Christiansen

Defensive Back

Jack Christiansen

8 seasons
46 interceptions
8 punt return TDs
6 All-NFL selections
5 Pro Bowls
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8

seasons

46

interceptions

8

punt return TDs

6

All-NFL selections

5

Pro Bowls
View full stats

"It was like putting together a good pie. If you get the finest ingredients and do a skillful job of blending them together, you get a superior product. Well, our backfield was like that.”

Read Jack Christiansen's Bio

(Colorado St.)...6'1'', 205...John Leroy Christiansen. . .Left safety stalwart on three title teams. . . All-NFL six straight years, 1952-1957. . .Played in five Pro Bowls. . . Formidable defender, return specialist. . . Foes' standard rule: "Don't pass in his area, don't punt to him". . .NFL interception leader, 1953, co-leader in 1957. . . Career marks: 46 steals for 717 yards, three TDs. . .85 punt returns for 1,084 yards, eight TDs. . .Born December 20, 1928, in Sublette, Kansas. . .Died June 29, 1986, at age of 57.

BIO

Jack Christiansen Detroit Lions

"It was like putting together a good pie. If you get the finest ingredients and do a skillful job of blending them together, you get a superior product. Well, our backfield was like that.”

Because he felt he was too small, Jack Christiansen didn't even plan to play college football. He first thought that he would concentrate as a sprinter on the track team at Colorado State. But he was coaxed out for football as a sophomore and he starred in the very first game he ever played. From then on for the next three years, Christiansen was a star as a return man, on defense, and as a ball carrier.

Still his size – 6-1 and 162 pounds at the time – may have left some doubts in the minds of some pro scouts whether he could make it in professional football. But the Lions did draft him in 1951 and, right from the start, he enjoyed spectacular success. In one crucial contest against the Los Angeles Rams as a rookie, Christiansen scored twice on punt returns of 69 and 47 yards. He also scored on two punt returns (71 and 89 yards) against the Green Bay Packers that season. So effective as a punt returner, teams were forced to change their defensive strategy.

Soon all the teams were using the spread punt formation to try to contain the elusive Christiansen. As great as he was on the return teams, Jack's forte was defense and he was the key man for the defensively-strong Lions, who in the 1950s dominated the National Football League with four divisional and three world championships.

The defensive backfield of the Lions became known as “Chris’ Crew,” in recognition of Christiansen’s leadership and outstanding play. On the field, he was the defensive boss and ran the show. He led the league in interceptions in 1953 and tied for the league lead in 1957. Just like teams did on punt formations, opposing teams altered their passing patterns against Detroit. Many clubs had a standard rule when playing Detroit — don't throw in Christiansen's area, and don't punt to him. Christiansen played eight seasons with the Lions from 1951-58 and was named All-Pro six consecutive years (1952-1957) and played in five consecutive Pro Bowls (1954-1958).

STATS

Jack Christiansen's Stats

Year
Team
G
PR
Yds
Avg
TD
KR
Yds
Avg
TD
1951 Detroit
12
18
343
19.1
4
11
270
24.5
0
1952 Detroit
11
15
322
21.5
2
16
409
25.6
0
1953 Detroit
12
8
22
2.8
0
10
183
18.3
0
1954 Detroit
11
23
225
9.8
1
5
102
20.4
0
1955 Detroit
9
12
87
7.3
0
7
169
24.1
0
1956 Detroit
12
6
73
12.2
1
6
116
19.3
0
1957 Detroit
12
3
12
4.0
0
4
80
20.0
0
1958 Detroit
10
0
0
0.0
0
0
0
0.0
0
Career Total
89
85
1084
12.8
8
59
1329
22.5
0
 
Year Team
G
Int
Yds
Avg
TD
FumRec.
Yds
 
1951 Detroit
12
2
53
26.5
0
1
52
   
1952 Detroit
11
2
47
23.5
0
1
0
   
1953 Detroit
12
12
238
19.8
1
3
0
   
1954 Detroit
11
8
84
10.5
1
0
0
   
1955 Detroit
9
3
49
16.3
0
2
36
   
1956 Detroit
12
8
109
13.6
0
0
0
   
1957 Detroit
12
10
137
13.7
1
0
0
   
1958 Detroit
10
1
0
0.0
0
0
0
   
Career Total
89

46

717

15.6

3

7

88

 

Additional Career Statistics: Rushing: 19-143, 2 TD; Receiving: 3-32; Scoring: 13 TD



CAREER CAPSULE

Jack Christiansen's Career Capsule

Full Name: John Leroy Christiansen

Birthdate: December 20, 1928

Birthplace: Sublette, Kansas

Died: June 29, 1986

High School: Odd Fellows Orphanage

Elected to Pro Football Hall of Fame: January 12, 1970

Enshrined into Pro Football Hall of Fame: August 8, 1970

Presenter: Buddy Parker, Former Lions Coach

Other Members of Class of 1970: Tom Fears, Hugh McElhenny, Pete Pihos

Pro Career: 8 seasons, 89 games

Drafted: 6th round (69th overall) by Detroit Lions

Uniform Number: 24, (19)



ENSHRINEMENT SPEECH

Jack Christiansen Enshrinement speech

Jack Christiansen Enshrinement Speech 1970

Presenter: Buddy Parker

Well, thanks very much, except for one thing period a quarterback back in the early days, we could only throw six passes. Well, it's nice to be here again in Canton, and I think Ohio is one of the greatest football countries in the world. And, I have to say one thing, they really selected the right place to have the Hall of Fame. A lot of important positions in football, of course, all the positions are important, but probably one of the most difficult is the quarterback.

But then, whether you realize it or not, there’s a quarterback on defense, and that is a hard position to play. Jack Christiansen took care of all of our defenses, he maneuvered them around although you coach for years and weeks and so forth to prepare for a game situation that come up in a ball game that you just can't quite handle and yet they use your own initiative. Now, Jack, not only a great defensive player in every way, Jack could also play offense, and on several occasions, we played him on offense, and he ran for a couple of touchdowns against the Dallas Texans, in fact, he did everything well. He returned punts and he was a safety and he would return the punts and also the kickoffs. He was an all-around great football player period and it's really an honor to present Jack this time into the Hall of Fame. Thank you very much.

Jack Christiansen

Thank you, very kindly buddy. I, uh, don't remember you saying all those nice things when we were talking contract. Nick Curbaway Why is our general manager in Detroit and he used to say that I miss so many tackles that I didn't cover this guy and I didn't cover that guy, that I wonder if we are talking about the same person. But it is a real honor for me and to be here to be inducted into the Hall of Fame now along with these other three people that are up here. Tom Fears played with the Rams and I never did cover him, that's why he caught all those passes and got in here. Pete Phos, I didn't play against Pete very many times, but I haven't covered him yet. We played against Hugh McElhenny two times a year, and I haven't tackled him yet. So, I don't know, I guess that I have the press and all the fans to thank for me being here, I understand that Roger Williams was instrumental in helping to get me inducted into the Hall of Fame, I would like to thank him personally. I had three coaches during my career, one in high school, Gordon Bug: my college coach, Bob Davis and Buddy Parker, and I would like to say that I owe a lot to all three of them and would like to thank you very kindly. The press and all you wonderful people In Ohio -- Thank you very much