Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

NFLer, Jazz Fan

As football fans settle into their beanbag chairs on Sunday to drink more Pabst than their livers can handle and watch the Rams stuff the Patriots, their minds should also remember one of the greatest NFL players ever: Hall of Fame defensive back Dick “Night Train” Lane, who died on Jan. 29 of a heart attack. He was 73.

Why should jazz fans care about Night Train? Because he was a big jazz fan and because he was once married to singer Dinah Washington. Granted, Lane was but one of seven husbands that Washington loved and lost before her tragic death on Dec. 14, 1963, in Detroit, Mich., at the age of 39 from an accidental combination of diet pills and alcohol. But Lane’s marriage to Washington helped solidify his love of jazz. Terry Yates, the personal care worker who helped Lane for the last two years at the Five-Star Personal Care facility in Austin, Texas, told the Associated Press that Lane was listening to jazz the night he died.

After spending time in the Army and junior college, Lane signed with the Los Angeles Rams in 1952. He was traded to the Chicago Cardinals in 1954 and then to the Detroit Lions in 1960; he retired a Lion in 1965, his 68 career interceptions still a league record. Lane garnered the nickname “Night Train” from his dreaded, and now illegal, “Night Train Necktie,” a clotheslining tackling technique he used to nearly decapitate the opposition runners and receivers.

Good night, Night Train, good night.

Originally Published