Before his famed stint with the New York Sack Exchange in the NFL, Marty Lyons was a dominant force on Alabama’s defensive line in the late 1970s.
A consensus All-American as a senior in 1978, Lyons helped lead the Crimson Tide to their next-to-last national championship under the legendary Paul W. “Bear” Bryant. Lyons was a defensive captain that season and recorded 119 total tackles, including 15 for loss. He was named the SEC's defensive player of the year.
Lyons, who was also a two-time All-SEC selection, becomes the 23rd Alabama player or coach to be selected into the College Football Hall of Fame. He was 31-5 during his career at Alabama and a member of two SEC championship teams.
In the hearts and minds of Alabama fans, Lyons will forever be remembered for his part in one of the most famous goal-line stands in college football history. The stand was punctuated by Barry Krauss’ fourth-down stop of Penn State’s Mike Guman just inches from the goal line, preserving Alabama’s 14-7 win over Penn State in the 1979 Sugar Bowl to capture the national title.
During the timeout just prior to the fourth-down play, Penn State quarterback Chuck Fusina walked over to see how much the Nittany Lions needed for a touchdown. The ball was inside the 1. Fusina looked over to Lyons and asked Lyons what he thought Penn State should do.
Lyons shot back, “You better pass.”
A member of Alabama’s Team of the Century, Lyons had perhaps his best game in the 1978 Iron Bowl when he collected 16 tackles, including three sacks, in a 34-16 win over Auburn.
Lyons was a first-round pick of the New York Jets in the 1979 draft and played all 11 seasons with the Jets. He's also the founder of the Marty Lyons Foundation, which for nearly 30 years has fulfilled special wishes for children diagnosed with a life-threatening or terminal illness.