(ALLEN PARK, MI) – One of the Lions’ all-time great running backs, Mel Farr, passed away August 3 in Detroit at the age of 70.
“The entire Lions family is saddened by the passing of Mel Farr,” said Lions President Tom Lewand. “As both a player and a businessman, Mel was blessed with many talents and a personality to match. His energetic presence in Detroit, both on the field during his playing career and off the field for decades after, was unique and unmistakable.”
“Mel truly lived a life of distinction and will be missed. Our deepest sympathies go out to Jasmine, his children and all his family and friends.”
A two-time All-American at UCLA, Farr was the Lions’ first-round draft pick in 1967. In that 1967 season, Farr made an immediate impact by leading Detroit in both rushing (860 yards on 206 carries) and receiving (39 catches for 317 yards) and tying for the club lead in scoring with six touchdowns. As a result, he was named the Lions’ Offensive MVP and was honoured as the NFL Rookie of the Year by the Associated Press.
Among his many highlights his rookie season was a 197-yard rushing performance at Minnesota, then the second-biggest single-game rushing total in Detroit history.
Farr rushed for 3,072 yards, caught 146 receptions for 1,374 yards, and scored a total of 36 touchdowns during his seven seasons in Detroit (1967-73). He was twice named to play in the NFL Pro Bowl (1968 and 1971) and twice was voted the Lions’ offensive MVP (1967-68). During his 1970 season, he finished second in the NFL with nine rushing touchdowns as the Lions earned a playoff berth and Farr captured his second Pro Bowl nod.
Each season, Lions’ players vote for a Mel Farr Rookie of the Year Award in honour of one of the greatest rookie seasons in Detroit Lions history.
Mel was a founding member of the Detroit Lions Alumni Association and active participant in Detroit Lions community and philanthropic initiatives.
Farr and his brother Miller both enjoyed long pro careers in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Mel’s sons, Mel, Jr., and Mike both also played in the NFL, with younger of the two, Mike, becoming a second-generation Farr who played or the Lions.
Following his playing days, Farr became a successful businessman, owning and operating car dealerships. Through his popular car commercials, fans beyond the game became familiar with as him “Mel Farr Superstar.”
Farr is survived by his wife, Jasmine, sons Mel Jr. and Michael and daughters, Monet and Milan. Jasmine is expecting another daughter, Melia, due in November.