Former Detroit Lions star offensive lineman Ed Flanagan has died at 79

The Detroit Lions confirmed the sad news of Ed Flanagan’s passing on Wednesday. Flanagan, a notable offensive lineman, had a ten-year career with the Lions during which he received four Pro Bowl nods. He also secured a spot on the franchise’s all-time team announced in 2019. Flanagan was 79 at the time of his passing.

The announcement was made through the Lions’ official Twitter account.

“Today the Detroit Lions mourn the passing of Ed Flanagan,” the team wrote. “A member of the Detroit Lions All-Time Team, Flanagan appeared in 139 games (139 starts) for the Lions from 1965-74 and was a four-time Pro Bowl selection.”

Ed Flanagan, a fifth-round selection from Purdue in 1965, swiftly secured the starting center role at Detroit in his rookie year. He went on to start in every game for the following nine seasons, showcasing remarkable consistency with an unbroken streak of 129 games. Besides his Pro Bowl achievements, he also demonstrated leadership by serving as the Lions’ captain from 1969 to 1974.

“He called all the blocking adjustments,” former position coach and NFL coach Chuck Knox said in a 2015 interview. “He was a Pro Bowl center and was a member of what was regarded as the best offensive line in the NFL at the time. He was an outstanding center. He had been a wrestler in high school and college and had good balance. Plus, he was tough and smart.”

Ed Flanagan: From Underestimated High School Player to Pro Bowl Star and Beyond

Born in San Bernardino, California, Ed Flanagan spent his high school years in Altoona. Interestingly, he often mentioned that he wasn’t a high school standout, only starting in his senior year. In 1987, his efforts were recognized with an induction into the Blair County Sports Hall of Fame.

Post-Altoona, Flanagan pursued his football career at Purdue. His talent was recognized by the Detroit Lions, who selected him as their fifth-round pick, 64th overall, in the 1965 draft. He played with the Lions until the 1974 season, after which he joined the Chargers, where he played until 1976.

Flanagan earned Pro Bowl honors in 1969, 1970, 1971, and 1973, a testament to his consistent performance.

Upon retiring, he ventured into the printing business. A few years later, he returned to the gridiron, this time as a coach. He briefly coached the offensive line, first with the USFL’s Oakland Invaders in 1984, and then with the Arizona Rattlers of the Arena Football League.

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