Former Lions coach Buddy Parker picked as Hall of Fame finalist
Buddy Parker, who coached the Detroit Lions to back-to-back NFL titles in the 1950s, was picked as a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s class of 2024.
Parker was announced Wednesday as the candidate from a group of 12 coaches and contributors after multiple votes were needed from the 12-person committee. He will get into the Hall if he is supported by at least 80% of the full Hall of Fame panel of voters next January.
Parker had a 107-76-9 record as a head coach for the Cardinals, Lions and Steelers but his greatest success came during his six years at the helm in Detroit.
After spending one year as co-coach of the Chicago Cardinals in 1949, Parker was hired to take over the Lions in 1951 and ushered in the only sustained period of winning in franchise history.
Detroit had the most losses in the NFL in the six seasons before Parker took over as coach, with the only success in franchise history coming when the Lions won the title with Parker as a player in 1935.
Parker helped develop quarterback Bobby Layne into a Hall of Famer and was credited with popularizing the “two-minute offense” by having Layne rush the offense to the line to catch defenses off guard.
That helped the Lions quickly become an NFL power, going 28-7-1 during a three-year period from 1952-54, with each season capped with a championship game against Paul Brown’s Cleveland Browns.
Detroit won the first two meetings before losing the title game in 1954. The Lions fell just short of the championship game in 1956.
Parker made a shrewd move to acquire Tobin Rote from Green Bay before the 1957 season but Parker resigned during training camp. His assistant, George Wilson, took over and won the championship with Rote throwing four TD passes in the title game win over Cleveland after Layne had been sidelined by a broken ankle earlier in the season.
Parker finished his career with eight seasons as Steelers coach. While he never had the success in Pittsburgh that he did in Detroit, he did lead a franchise that had just three winning records in its first 24 seasons to four winning seasons in eight years. He resigned just days before the start of the 1965 season.
Parker died in 1982 at age 68.
The committee also considered 11 other candidates along with Parker: Tom Coughlin, Mike Holmgren, Frank “Bucko” Kilroy, Robert Kraft, Dan Reeves, Art Rooney Jr., Marty Schottenheimer, Mike Shanahan, Clark Shaughnessy, Lloyd Wells and John Wooten.
Coughlin, Shanahan and George Seifert are the only retired coaches to have won multiple Super Bowls who are not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
A 12-person committee will pick up to three senior candidates next week from a list of 12 semifinalists to advance to the final stage of voting.
The selection committee could also vote in up to five modern era candidates from a pool still to be determined.
The Class of 2024 will be formally enshrined next summer in Canton, Ohio.
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