MIKE O'HARA

Former Detroit Lions kicker, Errol Mann, passes away at the age of 71

Posted Apr 17, 2013

Mann, who spent the majority of his 11 NFL seasons with the Lions, ended his career in Detroit as the team's all-time scoring leader

Errol MannK Errol Mann (Photo: AP Images)
Errol Mann, who launched a long and successful kicking career with the Lions in 1969 after knowing failure and disappointment previously, will be remembered for the straight-on kicking style and old-school determination of his day.

Mann, who spent the majority of his 11 NFL seasons with the Lions, died unexpectedly last week at his home in Missoula, Montana. The death was reported in Missoula’s local newspaper, the Missoulian. Mann was 71.

Mann was an investment executive at the time of his death, the Missoulian reported in its obituary.

According to the website Pro-Football-Reference.com, Mann played two games for the Green Bay Packers in 1968 without making a field goal.

He made the Lions in 1969 and was their kicker through the midpoint of the 1976 season, when he went to the Raiders for the last six games of the season. He played his last two seasons with the Raiders, 1977-78.

As a first-year Lion in 1969, Mann made a career-high 25 field goals out of 37 attempts – tying a career high that he matched in 1971. It was the first of three straight seasons in which he scored more than 100 points -- 101 in 1968-69 and 103 in 1970, when the Lions were 10-4 and made the playoffs as a wild card. The Lions played 14-game seasons in those years.

Mann was born in Breckenridge, Minn., and went to high school in Campbell, Minn.  He graduated from the University of North Dakota, where his career was interrupted by a stint in the army. Mann was a graduate of Officers Candidate School in Fort Benning, Ga.

The Missoulian printed a poignant letter written by Mann for his high school’s 50th reunion of his graduation class. In the letter, Mann detailed his persistence in achieving a career in pro football, and the obstacles he overcame in the process.

In the letter, Mann wrote in part:

“Following college, my pursuit of a career in the National Football League (NFL) consumed the next 12 1/2 years of my life. It included stops at the Denver Broncos, the Cleveland Browns, and the Green Bay Packers, all ending because of injuries. However, my dream was finally realized with the Detroit Lions, where I was fortunate to experience an eight-year career. I ended my time there as the all-time scoring leader in the history of the Detroit Lions.”

Mann joined the Raiders at a fortuitous time. The Raiders had a powerful team, going 13-1 in the 1976 regular season. They beat the Vikings, 32-14, in Super Bowl XI.

Survivors include Errol’s wife, Lois, of Missoula; a brother, Randall, of Fergus Falls, Minn.; and a siser, Bonnie Gran, of Fergus Falls.

Memorial services will be held at 2 p.m. Friday at the Missoula Alliance Church, 100 E. Foss Court, Missoula.