This Former MSU QB, Not Matthew Stafford, Is The Best Ex-Lion To Win A Super Bowl Ring
This was a fun rabbit-hole to go down as we watched people in Detroit go nuts over Matthew Stafford leading the Los Angeles Rams to a Super Bowl victory and getting a ring after over a decade of being stuck with the Lions.
I started looking for ex-Lions who went on to get a ring after leaving Motown. Unfortunately, there's some serious recency bias here. This Lions fan-site lists their top five, but I have to tell you, I'm not all that impressed. It listed Cliff Avril, Eddie Murray, Willie Green, Charlie Batch, and Kyle Van Noy.
Avril got his ring with Seattle the following season. Murray kicked for the last of the Dallas Cowboy Super Bowls in the '90s. Batch left the Lions for Pittsburgh and here's the irony. While he was hurt (as Ben Roethlisberger's back-up), the game was played at the new Ford Field in Detroit.
Willie Green went to Denver as a back-up receiver for John Elway's Denver Broncos and won two rings in the late '90s. Van Noy waited two years after leaving Detroit to do it with New England, where he even sacked Jared Goff, then of the Rams.
But if you want number one in my book, you have to look back over fifty years. Earl Morrall was a star quarterback in high school in Muskegon in the early 1950s. He led Muskegon to state football and baseball titles. He then led Michigan State to a 9-1 season in 1955, and then a Rose Bowl victory (and played in the College World Series) before going to the NFL. He was the second overall pick in the 1956 NFL Draft for San Francisco but was traded to Pittsburgh during his rookie season. The Lions got him in the infamous Bobby Layne trade. Morrall stayed in Detroit until 1964. At that point, he was a journeyman quarterback and eventually, he ended up in Baltimore with the Colts when they were very good. The Colts got to Super Bowl III in 1969 but very famously lost to Joe Willie Namath and the New York Jets. However, two years later, Morrall and Johnny Unitas led the Colts to a win in Super Bowl V.
At that point, the aging veteran moved on to Miami, where he filled in for nine games as the Dolphins became the only NFL team in history to go undefeated, 17-0, including the win in Super Bowl VII.
This NFL Films vignette sums up Morrall's NFL career.
After he retired, he coached some great quarterbacks at "The U" - the University of Miami - and then was voted Mayor of Davie, Florida. He died in 2014.