ALLEN PARK, MICH. – Don Doll, former Lions’ player and coach, died Wednesday, September 22, 2010 at his home in San Juan Capistrano, Calif. He was 84. Doll played safety for the Lions from 1949-52 and was part of the 1952 NFL Championship Team. He later coached for the Lions from 1963-64 and again from 1978-88.
In 2008, Doll was recognized as one of franchise’s greatest players when he was named to the Lions’ 75th Season All-Time Team.
Doll exploded onto the NFL scene after being named the Pacific Coast’s MVP for the University of Southern California Trojans in 1948. While at USC, Doll missed the 1945 season while in the Marines, and was on the U.S.S. Missouri when the Japanese signed surrender papers onboard to end World War II.
As a rookie in 1949, he tied a League record with four pass interceptions in a single game against the Chicago Cardinals and set an NFL rookie record with 11 pass interceptions for the season. Doll’s 11 picks his rookie year is the third-highest single-season tally in team history. His 301 interception return yards in 1949 still stands as an NFL rookie record.
In 1950, Doll followed up his rookie campaign with a remarkable 12 interceptions, which is still tied for the most in Lions’ history. Two seasons later, Doll helped the Lions win the 1952 NFL Championship and was named the MVP of the 1953 Pro Bowl following the season. During his career he was a four-time Pro Bowler and was selected three times when he was with the Lions (1951-53).
Doll finished his playing career with the Washington Redskins (1953), where he recorded 10 interceptions, and the Los Angeles Rams (1954).
In the history of the NFL, Doll is the only player to record 10 interceptions in three different seasons (1949, 1950 and 1953).
Doll later coached for the Lions for 13 seasons. His first stint on the club’s coaching staff was from 1963-64, and then he was on the staff for an 11-year stint (1978-88), holding various positions during that time. Doll coached in college and in the NFL for 34 years following his playing days, including 25 in the NFL.
He is survived by his wife, Diana, and his five children, Steven, Wendy, Kevan, Heidi and Michael, in addition to six grandchildren and one great grandchild.
A memorial service will be October 29, 2010 at 11 a.m. at St. Edward the Confessor Catholic Church, 33926 Calle La Primavera, Dana Point, CA 92629. Arrangements are being handled by O'Connor Mortuary, 25301 Alicia Parkway, Laguna Hills, CA 92653. They can be reached at 949-581-4300 or www.oconnormortuary.com.