You likely know about the Night Train Lane interception record. Did you know he holds a receiving record?
Did Night Train Lane Play for the Cardinals?
Yes! Although Night Train Lane is most thought of as playing for the Rams and Lions, he played more games with the Cardinals than either of the two other teams.
In January of 1954, the Rams took part in a three-team deal that sent Night Train Lane to the Chicago Cardinals, where his original head coach, Joe Stydahar now worked. A 1985 Sun-Sentinel article alluded to a salary dispute that may have led to the trade, according to a quote attributed to Lane.
The Cardinals started experimenting with Night Train Lane as a receiver in 1954, but Lane really got a chance to showcase his receiving skills in a 1955 game at Green Bay, in the stadium used before Lambeau Field was built. Cardinal quarterback Ogden Compton told the story on The Game Before the Money football history podcast.
The Story Behind the Cardinals Longest Touchdown Pass
Compton said, “We were playing Green Bay and their punter had punted out of bounds on our two-yard line. Thus far, I had not played in that game. But I was lucky enough to be able to go in when it was 1st-and-10 on our two.
“We tried a pass play. We tried running play. Green Bay was all set for us. And me being a rookie, they just didn’t worry too much about anything happening. Well, into the game on 3rd-and-10, came Dick “Night Train” Lane, who many people think is the greatest cornerback in history. And I’m one of them.
“So he comes into the game on 3rd-and-10 and we call a play. He went straight down the field, got behind the defensive back and I threw him the ball, which he caught right around our 40. I was in the end zone when I threw it and I was under a nine-man rush by the Green Bay Packers. He caught it and it was an easy route for him to run. He had the speed and he went the rest of the way for a 98-yard touchdown.”
Tied for the Longest Touchdown Pass in Cardinals History
The Odgen Compton to Night Train Lane pass still stands tied with a play in the 1930s as the longest touchdown pass in Cardinals history even though the Cardinals are one of the original franchises. That means that’s the record after 100 seasons.
Although he is known for interceptions and hard hits, Lane often said the touchdown receptions was his favorite play of his Hall of Fame NFL career.
Ogden Compton said that another Cardinal quarterback, Lamar McHan made light of the play. “When I came out of the game after three plays, my roommate, Lamar McHan said, ‘you are the luckiest S.O.B I’ve ever seen.'”
Ogden Compton NFL QB Interview Quotes
“We had a lot of interviews after that. It was great fun and a great thrill. And imagine playing about a minute and setting an NFL record which still stands.”
Compton played only in one NFL season, but he made the most of it. He threw the longest pass of the 1955 NFL season despite only playing in nine games. The franchise record he set with Lane still stands tied as the longest in history, although the team has played over 100 seasons.
During our conversation, I asked Compton if the Cardinals had practiced that play before the game. “Well, no. He was a defensive back. I was surprised to see him come in the game. I thought, ‘What’s he coming in here for?’ He came in to outrun the safety catch the ball and go and set an NFL record. He played one play in that series.”
Compton added that Lane was popular with his teammates. “He was a really, really good guy too; Popular with the team; He was kind of quiet, didn’t go around bragging all the time. He just did his job and he was just extraordinary. He was tough, he was fast. He had all of the qualities you were looking for.”Embed from Getty Images
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Quotes are edited for clarity.