Iconic Cyclones, PART THREE: a Cyclone wins a NFL championship
With all of this talk about Ellis getting burnt on the last play of the Super Bowl, I thought I would dredge up another story from the archives, one in which a Cyclone named Jim Doran WON the NFL championship for his team. This is also my usual plea for information from anyone concerning this Cyclone. Can anyone please supplement this with more information and/or pictures on Doran from his Cyclone days? Thanks so much in advance for all your help!
In the 1950's, the Cleveland Browns and Detroit Lions dominated the NFL, winning six championships between the two teams. The Browns appeared in six straight NFL championship games starting in 1950, triumphing in '50, '54 and '55. The Lions won the '52, '53 and '57 championships. On a cold December 27th, 1953, with 53,000 fans packed in Briggs Stadium (eventually Tiger Stadium) in downtown Detroit, a Cyclone named Jim Doran entered lore.
Jim Doran walked onto the ISU football program in 1949 after two unimpressive years at Buena Vista in which he failed to make the varsity team. When Doran graduated in 1950, he owned nearly every ISU and Big Seven Conference receiving record. Perhaps the best collegiate game of this too-slow and too-small receiver was when Doran gashed #2 Oklahoma for a then-NCAA record 203 yards on 8 catches. The Detroit Lions drafted him in 1950 and he spent the next 11 years in the league, the last two years with the Dallas Cowboys, where he became the first Cowboy to make the Pro Bowl.
Despite his prolific offensive career at Iowa State, up to the 1953 championship game, Doran had been primarily a defensive player for Detroit. That all changed in the early part of the game when Detroit's regular tight end, Leon Hart mangled his knee and managed to limp off the field. Pressed into action, Doran tangled early and often with the Brown's cornerback Warren Lahr. Despite his lack of speed, Doran was convinced he could beat Lahr one-on-one. Doran started pleading with head coach Buddy Parker, "I can beat this guy on an up pattern."
Now, the game was down to the final minutes and the Lions had no other than quarterback Bobby Layne leading them. Considered one of the greatest NFL players ever (#52 in The Sporting News Football's 100 Greatest Players), Layne was considered the first master of the two-minute drill-- one that fit his playboy image. Known for running his huddle like a boot camp, Layne was also usually found leading the post-game celebration at the nearest bar.
Detroit began their game-winning drive at their own twenty with a 17-yard pass to Doran, who traded barbs with Lahr after the tackle. Returning to the huddle, Doran repeated to Layne, "Really Bobby, I can beat him deep." The drive continued with another crucial 18-yard reception by Doran on 3rd down, seen below:
Now, with just over two minutes left in the 1953 NFL championship game, the Cleveland Browns still held a 16-10 advantage over the Detroit Lions, but the Lions were driving. After the 3rd down reception, Layne glanced over at the Brown's cornerback, Warren Lahr, who was visibly angry and pointing threateningly at Doran, and Layne knew it was time.
"Can you still beat that feller," asked Layne as soon as Doran stepped into the huddle.
"Just throw it," Doran said. "I'll beat him."
As the ball was snapped, Doran took one giant step forward with his forearm extended, as if to block Lahr. "Lahr came at me pretty hard," Doran said. "He really was going to knock my head off. But then I ran right by him."
Despite Layne's wobbling pass, Doran had beaten Lahr by ten yards and he had ample time to cradle the ball and jog into the end zone. The Lions had tied the game with 2:08 to play. An extra point and a Browns interception later, the Detroit Lions were world champions again.
After the game, Layne simply had this to say about his receiver:
"Jimmy Doran don't tell lies."
Last edited by JunoSosa; 02-04-2008 at 03:27 PM.
Re: Iconic Cyclones, PART THREE: a Cyclone wins a NFL championship
Now I know what number I want on my Cowboy jersey. It will be #83.
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