Defensive Giant of the 50s
Big Daddy – the Nickname given to one of the NFL’s original giants. At 6′ 6″, 290 pounds Gene Lipscomb towered over opponents at a time when the average player was but 6-foot-2 and 235 pounds. Born in 1931 to a Carrie Lipscomb, a single mother in Uniontown Alabama he moved to Detroit when he was 3. Tragedy struck early as Carrie was murdered on her way to work when he was only 11. Living with his grandparents he played football in high school but instead of going to college he joined the Marines. He did play football for the Camp Pendleton team and in 1953 tried out for the Los Angeles Rams and remained with them until he was released in 1956. Picked up by the Colts he ended up starting 6 games filling in for the injured starter at the time. He continued as the Colts starter for the next 4 seasons. In 1957 he was the Colt’s leading tackler being credited with 135 tackles. He quickly established himself as one of the league’s dominant defensive players of the era earning 2 All Pro selections in 1958 and 1959. He was even named the MVP Lineman for the 1959 Pro Bowl.
The 1961 season started a new chapter in his career as he was traded to Pittsburg for receiver Jimmy Orr. With the Steelers he continued his high level of play making his 3rd Pro Bowl in 1962. It would be his last.
In May of 1963, after a night of partying Gene Lipscomb was found unconscious in a Baltimore apartment. He was later pronounced dead from a reported heroin overdose.