The countdown continues! The Detroit Lions top 50 players of all-time is nearing the top 10. This time around we take a look at numbers 19 through 15.
Lets get started!
19. Mel Gray, RB/KR, 1989-1994
Despite only being a Lion for six years, Mel Gray is—statistically—the greatest return specialist ever to don the Honolulu blue.
Furthermore, Gray is widely considered to be one of greatest return specialists of all-time in the NFL. He holds the record for being the oldest player to return a kickoff for a touchdown (33 years, 276 days). He is also the second oldest and third oldest to do so as well. 2.(33 years, 235 days) 3.(33 years, 221 days).
After the USFL folded in August 1986, Gray joined the New Orleans Saints who drafted him in the 1984 NFL Supplemental Draft of USFL and CFL Players.
Gray is however, most well-known for his time in the Motor City. The Lions were in contention for the NFC Central title each season during the early 1990s – teams that featured the game-breaking abilities of RB Barry Sanders. However, Gray was an integral part of a dominant Lions’ special teams group that proved to be instrumental to the team’s success during that era. In six seasons with the Lions (1989–94), Gray played in 84 games and returned 216 kickoffs for 5,478 yards (25.4 avg) and registered five touchdowns, and he returned 132 punts for 1,427 yards (10.8 avg) and had two touchdowns.
He is the franchise’s all-time leader in career kickoff returns (216), career kickoff return yards (5,478), career kickoff returns for touchdowns (5), most kickoff returns for touchdowns in a season (3, 1994), highest kickoff return average in a season (28.36, 1994) and career punt return yards (1,427). His seven total returns for touchdowns (5 kickoff return and 2 punt returns) ranks third all-time in team history. Gray was a four-time Pro Bowl selection in Detroit (1991–93, 1995), and he was named All-Pro by numerous publications in each season from 1990-94.