Remembering Dick Stanfel

Posted Jun 25, 2015

Former Lions guard Dick Stanfel passed away at the age of 87.

Dick Stanfel, who began his career as an All-Pro offensive guard on the Lions’ legendary NFL championship teams of the 1950s, is being remembered for his prowess as a player and as an assistant coach.

Stanfel died Monday at his home in the northern Chicago suburb of Libertyville. He was 87.

Stanfel, a finalist but not elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a senior candidate in 1993 and 2012, was one of the best offensive linemen of his era. He played seven seasons, starting with the Lions (1952-55) and ending up with three in Washington (1956-58).

Dick Stanfel Dick Stanfel (Photo: Detroit Lions)

The Lions drafted Stanfel in the second round in 1951 out of the University of San Francisco, but he missed his rookie season because of a knee injury sustained practicing for the College All-Star Game. The game, played in Chicago from 1934 through 1976, matched the top college players against the NFL champions of the previous season.

It wasn’t only the knee injury that shortened Stanfel’s career. He served in the Army in the Pacific theatre in World War II and did not make it to the NFL until he was 25.

When he returned to the Lions in 1952, Stanfel was an instant starter for the Lions, who were one of the NFL’s dominant teams. They won championships in 1952 and ’53 and again in 1957, after Stanfel had been sent to Washington in a trade.

The Lions voted Stanfel the team MVP after the 1953 championship, a rare honor for an offensive lineman.

Stanfel played in five Pro Bowls and was first-team All-Pro times and was voted to the NFL’s All-Decade team of the 1950s.

Stanfel went into coaching after his playing career ended. After coaching stops in the college ranks, including Notre Dame, Stanfel spent 39 years coaching the offensive line in the NFL for the Eagles (1964-70, 49ers (1971-75), Saints (1976-80) and Bears (1981-92). The 1985 Bears won the Super Bowl.