Detroit Lions Top 50: #9-5 with VIDEO

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6. Lem Barney, CB, 1967-1977

The original legendary No. 20, Lem Barney was a lockdown cornerback as well as an explosive punt returner.

Barney was a second round draft choice in 1967.

He was named 1967’s defensive rookie of the year, and went on to be selected to seven Pro Bowls. He is widely considered to be one of the greatest defensive backs in Detroit Lions history.

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Detroit Lions place DT Alim McNeill on IR amid flurry of roster moves
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  • During his time in the NFL (all of which were in Detroit), Barney had 56 career interceptions, and also gained over 1000 yards returning kickoffs and punts. In Barney’s first pro start, he intercepted the first pass in his direction from Green Bay’s Bart Starr and ran for a touchdown.

    Lem Barney and the rest of the Lions defense were coached by six-time Pro Bowl defensive back Jim David. Lem credits Jim David as a mentor and teacher of the highest order. Jim David made the induction speech at the Pro Football Hall Of Fame induction ceremony for Lem. They remained great friends until David’s death.

    Both Barney and Lions teammate Mel Farr befriended Motown recording artist Marvin Gaye, when Gaye unsuccessfully tried out for the Lions in 1970. Barney and Farr sing background vocals on Gaye’s classic 1971 song “What’s Going On”.