Bob Mann, 82; Detroit Lions’ receiver later became a lawyer

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Bob Mann, 82, one of the Detroit Lions’ first black players and a star receiver during the 1940s and ‘50s, died Saturday in Detroit.

In 1948, Mann and halfback Mel Groomes became the Lions’ first black players. In 1949, Mann set a team record for receptions (66) and became the club’s first 1,000-yard receiver.

He led the NFL that year in yards receiving (1,014).

The Lions traded Mann to the New York Yanks football team in 1950 for future Hall of Fame quarterback Bobby Layne. Mann was released by the Yanks and signed with Green Bay.

A knee injury before the 1954 season ended his career.

Robert Mann was born April 8, 1924, in New Bern, N.C., and played at the University of Michigan. As a senior he starred on coach Fritz Crisler’s undefeated national championship team of 1947 that beat USC, 49-0, in the Rose Bowl.

After his NFL career, he became a lawyer and worked in Detroit.