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Lem Barney

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No. 20
Position: Cornerback
Personal information
Date of birth: (1945-09-08) September 8, 1945 (age 70)
Place of birth: Gulfport, Mississippi
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Career information
High school: Gulfport (MS) 33rd Avenue
College: Jackson State
NFL draft: 1967 / Round: 2 / Pick: 34
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career Template:If empty statistics
Interceptions: 56
INT yards: 1,077
Touchdowns: 7
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Lemuel Joseph "Lem" Barney (born September 8, 1945) is a former American football cornerback who played for the Detroit Lions. He was selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1992.

College years

Barney attended Jackson State University where he was a three-time All-Southwestern Conference star with 26 career interceptions. Barney is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity.

In 1965 he recorded 9 interceptions. In 1966 he finished with 11 interceptions. He also had punt averages of 41.7 and 42.5 in those two seasons.

Pro career

Barney was a second round draft choice in 1967. He was named 1967's defensive rookie of the year, and went on to be selected to seven Pro Bowls. He is widely considered to be one of the greatest defensive backs in Detroit Lions history. During his time in the NFL (all of which were in Detroit), Barney had 56 career interceptions, and also gained over 1000 yards returning kickoffs and punts. In Barney's first pro start, he intercepted the first pass in his direction from Green Bay's Bart Starr and ran for a touchdown. Lem Barney and the rest of the Lions defense were coached by six-time Pro Bowl defensive back Jim David. Lem credits Jim David as a mentor and teacher of the highest order. Jim David made the induction speech at the Pro Football Hall Of Fame induction ceremony for Lem. They remained great friends until David's death.

In 1999, he was ranked number 97 on The Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Football Players.

His number, 20, which was also worn by future Detroit star running backs Billy Sims and Barry Sanders, was retired by the Lions.

Both Barney and Lions teammate Mel Farr befriended Motown recording artist Marvin Gaye, when Gaye unsuccessfully tried out for the Lions in 1970. Barney and Farr sing background vocals on Gaye's classic 1971 song "What's Going On",[1] for which Lem earned a Gold Record. Lem Barney also had a role in the film The Black Six and appeared as himself in Paper Lion. He is now a minister. Lem Barney performed the matrimonial services for Jim David's grandson, Sean Thornton and Laura Butler in 2009 at the Grosse Pointe War Memorial in Grosse Pointe, Michigan.

Post career

Lem Barney is currently[when?] an associate minister at Hope United Methodist Church in Southfield, Michigan. He is active in metro Detroit philanthropies and also mentors inner-city youth through his involvement with the church.

In popular culture

Barney appears as a playable character in the All-Pro Football 2K8 video game.


  1. ^ Crowe, Jerry (August 29, 2010). "Marvin Gaye once tried to make it in NFL, with help from Lem Barney, Mel Farr". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 30, 2010. 

External links

Template:1992 Football HOF

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