Football fans enjoyed seeing Detroit hero Bobby Layne, who later played for Pittsburgh, toss the coin at Super Bowl XVI in Pontiac. Layne, a rough-and-ready Texan, quarterbacked the Lions to two championships in the 1950s and even appeared on the cover of Time magazine. Since retiring, he's kept a low profile living and working in Lubbock. In the Super Bowl program, writer Mickey Herskowitz remembered Layne as ''the first pro football player to have a social identity, an image, a personality known and understood by the public.''
A big partygoer, Bobby could easily operate on four hours' sleep. On the field, he was as tough as they came. He wore a bare minimum of pads and never a face mask, preferences that enhanced his macho reputation, even if unintentionally. ''I tried every year to wear a face mask,'' he recalls. ''I wasn't brave. I couldn't get used to it. Bothered my vision.'' The skimpy pads didn't make Bobby feel any faster, just lighter.
The Super Bowl allowed Layne and his Lion teammates to hold a 30-year reunion of the 1952 championship team. For winning the title, he says, each player was given a blanket as a remembrance. At the reunion, however, they received rings more in keeping with the current Super Bowl tradition.