For the seven seasons he played linebacker for the Detroit Lions, Stephen Boyd was a fan favorite not only for delivering sledgehammer hits but for embodying the blue collar spirit of the Motor City. A 5th round draft choice out of Boston College in the 1995 draft, Boyd soon established himself as one of the Lions' defensive leaders.
In 1997, his first year as a starter, Boyd recorded 192 tackles which was second all-time in Lions history. In 1998, he was named the team's defensive MVP and in 1999 and 2000 he was voted to the Pro Bowl after leading the Lions in tackles with 188 and 166 respectively. A back injury forced his retirement following the 2001 season but not before he accumulated 773 tackles (502 solos), six sacks, three interceptions, 21 passes defended, five forced fumbles, nine recovered fumbles and 17 special teams tackles. Boyd is still ranked third on the Lions' career tackles list.
More than 20 years of replays have permanently implanted the memory into the minds of football fans everywhere. But no one could’ve known that as quarterback Doug Flutie dropped back to pass one final time on November 23, 1984, he was about to provide one of sports’ most treasured moments. The Boston College Eagles trailed the Miami Hurricanes 45-41 at the Orange Bowl when Flutie scrambled and launched a last-ditch Hail Mary pass 65 yards into the hands of Gerard Phelan for the winning touchdown. In an instant, an icon was born. Although Flutie went on to play professionally 21 years, that touchdown provided Flutie’s signature moment at just 22 years old. In a sense, the Miami in Miracle almost overshadows the rest of his career. While many believe that pass clinched the Heisman Trophy for Flutie, the voting concluded before the game and he had earned the award based on his All-American senior season. But no single moment should define Flutie, who threw for nearly 58,000 yards professionally and became one of football’s most exciting players. After spending 1985 in the United States Football League, Flutie played four years in the NFL, mostly as a backup, before leaving his nondescript career in the U.S. for eight years. In the Canadian Football League, skeptics quickly forgot about his height (5-foot-9), which is considered small for a quarterback. The larger Canadian field played to Flutie’s outstanding scrambling ability, and he became arguably the greatest player and most astonishing talent in CFL history. He’s the only non-Canadian in Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame and a national icon. The Buffalo Bills brought Doug Flutie back to the NFL in 1998, and he immediately rewarded them. Flutie took over a 1-3 team and led the Bills to a dramatic 8-3 finish and a playoff berth. His Pro Bowl season generated so much excitement “Flutie Magic” and “Flutie Mania” swept across Buffalo and the NFL. Flutie went 22-9 overall as the Bills’ starter over three seasons, leading them to another playoff appearance in 1999. He finished his career with the New England Patriots in 2005. In one last bit of excitement, Flutie drop-kicked an extra point in the regular-season finale. No one had done it since 1941.
Regarded as one of the best shutdown cornerbacks in the NCAA I-AA ranks before joining the NFL, Joey Thomas will likely make life miserable for NFL wide receivers for the foreseeable future.
The fiercely competitive Thomas, who excels when facing top-level competition, played four years at Montana State, intercepting 11 passes and earning two All-American and Big Conference selections.
Selected by the Packers in the third round of the 2004 NFL Draft, Thomas spent a season and a half in Green Bay before joining the New Orleans Saints halfway through the 2005 season.
Thomas is known for his outstanding quickness and leaping ability, along with a willingness to take well to tough coaching and help less-experienced teammates.