Embed from Getty Images The Detroit Lions drafted a special running back with the first pick in the 1980 NFL draft. Billy Sims was instant superstar, rushing for 1,303 yards, scoring 13 touchdowns, and earning NFL Rookie of the Year honors, his contributions to the offense helped Detroit improve from 2-14 in 1979 the to 9-7 in 1980.
During the 1981 season, Sims built on his rookie success, rushing for 1,437 yards and scoring another 13 touchdowns. The Lions had been absent from the NFL Playoffs since 1970, but Billy Sims was able to help lead them to the playoffs in both 1982 and 1983. Unfortunately in 1984, Sims blew out his knee and had to retire.
When Barry Sanders arrived in Detroit, then Lions head coach Wayne Fontes wanted Sanders to wear No. 20 in homage to Billy Sims. Both Detroit running backs were game-changers.
His time in Detroit was indeed cut short. But during those days there was no denying the flashy, whirling dervish Billy Sims who struck fear in defenses across the NFL, was a force.
Billy Sims career stats prove he was on path for the Hall of Fame, 60 games played, 313 rushing attempts, 5,106 rushing yards, 4.5 average per rush, 42 touchdowns.
Billy Sims stats are very comparable to that of NFL Hall of Fame running back Gale Sayers. Sayers career stats 64 games played, 991 rushing attempts, 4,956 rushing yards, 5.0 yards average per rush, 70 touchdowns.
One thing must be noted and stressed, Sayers played 7 seasons, Billy Sims played 4 1/2 seasons.
Yet, Sayers is in the Hall of Fame. Billy Sims should absolutely be there as well. One more thing Billy Sims was very efficient as a pass catcher. Billy Sims is still a larger-than-life Lion legend.
A former player who should be among the greats in the Hall of Fame. His numbers dictate it.