While most of today’s football fans probably hadn’t heard of Hall of Famer Yale Lary, his death last week at the age of 86 hit one local family hard.
Lary was a nine-time Pro Bowler as a safety and punter for the Detroit Lions from 1952-64, and was a teammate of the late long-time Urbana resident Ollie Cline on Detroit NFL championship teams in 1952 and ‘53.
Unlike players in today’s NFL, teammates and their families were close back in the 1950s, and Ollie and his wife Jenny were good friends with Yale Lary and his wife, Jane.
“Yale was a great player, but he was also a great person,” said Jenny Cline. “We all had such a great time back in those days in Detroit … the players and the wives. We were all close.”
So close, in fact, that the Clines named their second son, Yale, in honor of Lary.
Lary was also a teammate of London native Dick LeBeau with the Lions from 1959-64.
LeBeau, who played cornerback, told me he was blessed to have played with Lary in the same defensive backfield.
Off the field, Lary served in the Texas House of Representatives while he was still playing in the NFL and he later owned several successful business ventures in his hometown of Fort Worth, Texas.
Trivia Time – Former U.S. President Richard Nixon played football at Whittier (Calif.) College.
This week’s question – How many interceptions did Yale Lary have in his NFL career?
Reach Steve Stout at 652-1331 (ext. 1776) or on Twitter @udcstout