Jim Gibbons, who was a college teammate of Alex Karras and a fellow 1958 draftee of the Lions, who became the best tight end in Lions’ history not named Charlie Sanders, died Saturday in California at the age of 79. The Drive’s Detroit Lions’ historian, Doug Warren, ranked Gibbons #55 on his all-time list of Lions greats.
55. Jim Gibbons
Offensive End / Tight End. 1958-68 Detroit
Jim Gibbons, a college teammate of Alex Karras at Iowa, came along with the Mad Duck to Detroit as part of the Lions’ 1958 amateur draft. The 6-foot-2, 220 pound end would become one of the Lions’ best offensive stars during the next decade. He would earn Pro Bowl honors three-times during his career, after the 1960, ‘61, and ‘64 seasons. He had a career year in 1964, earning Lion MVP honors, catching 45 passes, for 605 yards and 8 touchdowns.
Gibbons still places eighth on the team’s all-time list in career receptions with 287. He also still holds down ninth place in career yards with 3,561 during his 11-year career. In addition, he would compile 20 touchdown receptions, and an amazingly low total of 2 fumbles. Gibbons’ career highlight may have come during the legendary 1960 game versus the Colts in Baltimore. He rumbled across the goal line to score on a 65-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Earl Morrall as time expired. It was the game’s third lead-change in the last 15 seconds of play, and gave the Lions the 20-15 victory.
Here is a video clip of that dramatic finish: