Facemask? The Blonde Bomber from Texas didn’t need no stinking facemask. The Hall of Fame quarterback was a freewheeling legend who brought championships to Detroit (?!?) and enjoyed a night on the town when he wasn’t slinging pigskins.
His unmasked face is one of the highlights of the 1954 Bowman football set and now a rare, original image from that photo session, circa 1953, is on the auction block. The card was cropped a bit and a little more detail is seen in the photograph The 8 x 9 3/4″ black and white image is among more than 600 lots in RMY Auctions’ current catalog.
Layne was coming off the second of back-to-back NFL championships as quarterback of the Detroit Lions. When kids were opening ’54 Bowman packs, his late, 80-yard touchdown drive to beat Cleveland was still fresh in their minds. He took the Lions back to the championship game again in ’54.
Layne broke a leg late in the 1957 season but had again put the Lions in position to win a championship, which they did with Tobin Rote calling signals. Layne later became Detroit’s kicker and led the NFL in field goal accuracy in 1956.
One of the last players to compete without a facemask, Layne was named to the NFL’s All-Decade team for the 1950s.
The photo measures 8 x 9 3/4″ and does have some creasing and a small tear. The back is blank except for Layne’s name, position and team which is typewritten in the upper left.
Bidding in the auction continues through Saturday, April 6.