Jack Christiansen was the first Colorado State University athlete voted into the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame and the second member of the Detroit Lions professional team to be selected. In 1967, he became the sixth member of the Hall of Fame chosen by a panel of sports writers and sportscasters.
During his collegiate career at Colorado State University, Christiansen was an athletic standout, earning a total of eight varsity letters in football, track and baseball. He was a three-time winner of the Skyline Conference quarter-mile track championship, and he was named All Conference in football twice. He received his B.S. degree from CSU in 1951, the same year he was drafted by the Detroit Lions.
From 1951-58, he was a starting defensive back for Detroit, earning All-Pro recognition six times and played in five Pro Bowls. During a consistently brilliant career, he held the National Football League record for punt returns, both season and overall, and played on four league title-winners and three world championship teams. In 1970, Christiansen was honored by enshrinement into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. Many seasoned observers still rate “Chris’s Crew” at Detroit as the greatest defensive secondary ever to play the game.
Prior to joining John Ralston’s Stanford staff in 1968, Christiansen spent nine years coaching the San Francisco 49ers, serving the last five years as head coach. His combined experience when he came to Stanford included seventeen years as a professional player and coach. While at Stanford, his teams had four consecutive winning seasons and twice finished second in the conference.
Regarded as one of football’s leading authorities on the passing game, Christiansen tutored two Stanford All-America quarterbacks, Heisman Trophy winner Jim Plunkett and Mike Boryla. The Cardinals were among the nation’s leaders in passing offense for all of Christiansen’s eight years on the staff.
Born in Sublett, Kansas, on December 20, 1928, Christiansen was married and had four daughters. He was most recently with the Seattle Seahawks coaching staff. Christiansen passed away in 1986.
The first Colorado State University athlete voted into the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame.