- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 22, 2009

Can you believe this story about former DeMatha/Detroit Lions quarterback Jeff Komlo - on the lam from drunken-driving charges for nearly four years - showing up dead in a car crash in Greece?

I mean, seriously, how are we going to hunt down Osama bin Laden if we can’t even find Jeff Komlo?

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You know, I’m kinda surprised Billy Packer didn’t hire a psychic to try to locate him.

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Komlo was quite the story in the NFL in 1979. A rookie ninth-round draft pick out of Delaware, he stumbled into the starting job in Detroit when the Lions’ top two QBs, Gary Danielson and Joe Reed, got hurt. In fact, his first start was in Week 2 against the Redskins, and he was positively heroic. He rallied his team from a 24-3 fourth-quarter deficit, tying the score with 2:13 left on a 24-yard touchdown pass to Freddie Scott.

But Mark Moseley spoiled things by booting a 41-yard field goal with eight ticks to go. (Moseley actually got two chances to kick the game-winner. He missed his first attempt from 46, but a too-many-men penalty against Detroit gave him another shot.)

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The Lions finished 2-14 that year - which, in light of what happened last season, qualifies as “the good old days.”

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It was an interesting Detroit club, to say the least. One of the starting receivers, the aforementioned Scott, graduated from Amherst. Another wideout was Gene Washington, the current NFL bigwig (and White House dinner date of Condi Rice). The middle linebacker was Charlie Weaver (not to be confused with the grandfather figure on the old “Hollywood Squares” shows), and the Pro Bowl defensive end was named Bubba (Baker).

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No joke: I saw Komlo make one of his 14 starts in ‘79. I was covering the Patriots for a paper in Massachusetts, and the Lions came into Foxborough in Week 6. Komlo threw eight passes, completed two, got one picked off and was relieved in the second quarter by Scott Hunter. The Pats were nearly as wretched that afternoon but managed to pull out a 24-17 victory.

I had no idea the quarterback I was watching would go on to become the Dr. Richard Kimble of NFL history.

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Story Continues →