Cloyce Box
refer to caption
Box on a 1950 Bowman football card
No. 80
Position:End, halfback
Personal information
Born:(1923-08-24)August 24, 1923
Hamilton, Texas
Died:October 27, 1993(1993-10-27) (aged 70)
Frisco, Texas
Height:6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)
Weight:220 lb (100 kg)
Career information
College:West Texas A&M
Louisiana Tech
NFL Draft:1948 / Round: 20 / Pick: 178
(By the Washington Redskins)
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Receiving yards:2,665
Player stats at

Cloyce Kennedy Box (August 24, 1923 – October 27, 1993) was an American football player and businessman. He played five years in the National Football League (NFL) with the Detroit Lions, was a member of NFL championship teams in 1952 and 1953, was selected as a second-team All-Pro in 1950 and a first-team All-Pro in 1952, and played in the 1951 and 1953 Pro Bowl games. On December 3, 1950, he set Detroit team records with 12 catches, four touchdown receptions, 24 points, and 302 receiving yards. He later became a successful businessman in the oil and gas business in Texas.

Early years

Box was born in 1923 in Hamilton, Texas.[1] From 1938 to 1942, he attended Jonesboro High School in Jonesboro, Texas, where he and his twin brother Boyce Box were both star athletes.[2][3] He never saw a game of football until he was 18 years old, having played basketball throughout his youth.[4]

Box and his brother Boyce attended West Texas A&M University on basketball scholarships and helped the Buffaloes win a Border Conference championship in 1943 before being inducted into the United States Marine Corps. He attained a rank of captain during World War II.[5] He also attended Louisiana Tech University as part of the V-12 Navy College Training Program. When he returned from the Marine Corps in 1946, the West Texas A&M basketball program slumped, and Box ended up playing college football as a quarterback and halfback for the West Texas A&M Buffaloes football team from 1946 to 1948.[6]

Detroit Lions

Box played professional football at the end and halfback positions in the National Football League (NFL) for five seasons with the Detroit Lions from 1949 to 1950 and 1952 to 1954.[1] As a rookie in 1949, Box appeared in ten games, principally as a halfback. He rushed for 62 yards on 30 carries and caught 15 passes for 276 yards and four touchdowns.[1] Box later recalled: "I probably was the worst halfback in the history of the league."[7]

In 1950, Box's second year in the NFL, Detroit's coaches sought to take advantage of Box's speed and converted him into an end.[7] Teaming up with Lions' quarterback Bobby Layne, Box appeared in 12 games and ranked among the league's leading receivers with 50 receptions (third), 1,009 receiving yards (second), 11 receiving touchdowns (second), 84.1 receiving yards per game (second), and 1,009 yards from scrimmage (second).[1] On December 3, 1950, in a game against the Baltimore Colts, he set Detroit team records with 12 catches, four touchdown receptions, 24 points, and 302 receiving yards.[8][9] His 302 receiving yards against the Colts was the second highest in NFL history at the time and currently ranks fifth in league history.[10][11] After the 1950 season, Box was selected by the Associated Press (AP) as a second-team end on its All-Pro team.[12]

In February 1951, with the Korean War ongoing, Box was recalled from inactive reserve status by the United States Marine Corps.[13] He missed the entire 1951 season due to military service.[14]

In June 1952, after being discharged from the Marine Corps, Box returned to the Lions.[14][15] Box was the leading receiver on the 1952 Lions team that won the NFL championship. On October 19, 1952, he led a comeback victory over the Los Angeles Rams, with touchdown catches covering 64 and 10 yards.[16] He led the NFL with 15 receiving touchdowns, ranked second in the league with 90 points scored, and again ranked among the league leaders with 924 receiving yards (fourth), 22.0 yards per reception (fourth), and 924 yards from scrimmage (sixth).[1] His yards per reception in 1952 are still the most ever in Lions team history while his 15 touchdowns remained a team record until 2011.[17] In the 1952 NFL Championship Game, a 17–7 victory over the Cleveland Browns, Box was used mainly as a decoy but was credited with a key block on Doak Walker's 67-yard touchdown run.[18] After the 1952 season, Box was selected by the AP as a first-team All Pro player and was selected to play in the 1953 Pro Bowl.[1]

In 1953, the Lions won their second consecutive NFL championship, though Box's receiving statistics declined significantly with only 16 receptions for 403 yards.[1] He was reportedly "robbed of his blinding speed by a leg injury," though he did manage a career-long 97-yard touchdown reception against the Green Bay Packers on Thanksgiving Day 1953 which would remain a Lions record until 1998.[19] In the 1953 NFL Championship Game, he had four receptions for 54 yards.[1]

In 1954, Box's final year in the NFL, he appeared in 11 games but caught only six passes for 53 yards.[1] Over the course of his five years with the Lions, Box totaled 129 receptions for 2,665 yards and 32 touchdowns.[1]

Business career and later years

After retiring from football, he had a long career in business. He began in 1954 as an assistant manager in the Dallas office of the George A. Fuller Company, eventually serving as chairman of the board. He became president of the Oklahoma Cement Company and president and chairman of OKC Corporation, which later became known as the Box Energy Corporation.[2][5]

Box later partnered with world renowned real estate developer Trammel Crow to form the BoxCrow Cement Company. By 1986, BoxCrow had invested $177 million ($420 million in 2020[20]) to construct a modern, 1 million ton per-year Portland cement production plant in Midlothian, Texas just south of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. The Midlothian plant is currently owned and operated by LafargeHolcim and has since expanded to produce over 2 million tons of cement per year.[21][22]

He also served as chairman of the board of regents for West Texas State University and the Texas Board of Penal Corrections.[5] Box was also inducted into the West Texas State University Business Hall of Fame.[23] His Cloyce Box Ranch was used as the original Southfork Ranch for the mini-series that became the first season of the television series Dallas.

In 1982, Box hosted a reunion for his 1952 Lions teammates at the site of Super Bowl XVI. At the time, the 1952 Lions were the last championship team that didn't receive a ring, so Box presented each of his teammates with championship rings that he paid for personally.[24][25] That same winter, he established a trust fund for the purpose of helping former NFL players experiencing financial difficulty by contributing $1 million ($2.7 million in 2020) of his own money.[25]

Box and his wife, Fern Virginia Box, had four sons Don, Gary, Thomas and Douglas. And later married his second wife Ashley Scott Box.[5] They lived in Frisco, Texas, for more than 30 years.[5] Box died at of a heart attack at his home in Frisco in 1993 at age 70.[8] At his funeral, Frank Gifford gave Box's eulogy while Kathie Lee Gifford sang at the service.[21]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Cloyce Box". Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved March 10, 2016.
  2. ^ a b "Jonesboro Salutes Cloyce Box At '83 High School Homecoming". The Gatesville Messenger and Star-Forum. September 22, 1983. p. 13 – via open access
  3. ^ "60+ years later, graduate say thanks: Jonesboro grad's trust closed out, given to athletic department". The Gatesville Messenger & Star-Forum. April 28, 2007. pp. 1, 5 – via open access
  4. ^ Tommy Devine (August 30, 1953). "Story-Book Touch Behind Box's Rise to Fame". Detroit Free Press. p. 1D – via open access
  5. ^ a b c d e "Cloyce Box, former NFL star, dies on Oct. 24". The Gatesville Messenger. November 4, 1993. p. 10A – via open access
  6. ^ "Cloyce Box Joins Pro Football Team". Corsicana Daily Sun. April 27, 1949. p. 10 – via open access
  7. ^ a b "Cage Snafu Made Grid Star of Box". Detroit Free Press. August 30, 1953. p. 2D – via open access
  8. ^ a b Jack Saylor (October 26, 1993). "Lions Top receiver Cloyce Box dies". Detroit Free Press. pp. 1C, 2C – via open access
  9. ^ Bob Latshaw (December 4, 1950). "Box, Doak Team for Every Point". Detroit Free Press. p. 30 – via open access
  10. ^ "Games to Remember". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. November 17, 2013 – via open access
  11. ^ "NFL Single Game Receiving Yards Leaders". Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved March 10, 2016.
  12. ^ "1950 AP All Pro Grid Team". The Sandusky Register. December 28, 1950. p. 16 – via open access
  13. ^ "Lions Lose Cloyce Box to Marines". Detroit Free Press. February 27, 1951. p. 22 – via open access
  14. ^ a b Bob Latshaw (June 8, 1952). "Lions Welcome Box Back from Marines: End to Report with Rookies for Extra Work in Passes". Detroit Free Press. p. C3 – via open access
  15. ^ "Cloyce Box Back Again With Lions". The La Crosse (Wisc.) Tribune. July 6, 1952. p. 26 – via open access
  16. ^ "Lions Owe Win to Cloyce Box". The Ludington Daily News. October 20, 1952. p. 5 – via open access
  17. ^ "Detroit Lions Single Season Receiving Leaders | The Football Database". Retrieved 2020-12-24.
  18. ^ "Lions' Decoy, Stout Defense Won NFL Title". The Arizona Republic. December 29, 1952. p. 17 – via open access
  19. ^ "Lions Rally for 34–15 Win: Cloyce Box Scores on 97-Yard Play". The Mason City (IA) Globe Gazette (AP story). November 27, 1953. p. 11 – via open access
  20. ^ "US Inflation Calculator". US Inflation Calculator. Retrieved 2020-12-24.
  21. ^ a b "Cloyce Box's Southfork and fortune made him a king ... who had a great fall". Dallas News. 2016-11-18. Retrieved 2020-12-24.
  22. ^ LafargeHolcim Facilities
  23. ^ Bridwell, Keith (1968-11-14). "The Frisco Enterprise (Frisco, Tex.), Vol. 9, No. 12, Ed. 1 Thursday, November 14, 1968". The Portal to Texas History. Retrieved 2021-12-28.
  24. ^ Anderson, Dave; Times, Special To the New York (1982-01-25). "LAYNE: N.F.L.'s PATRON DEVIL (Published 1982)". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-12-24.
  25. ^ a b "Cloyce Box Interviewed by Bob Costas - YouTube". Archived from the original on 2021-12-22. Retrieved 2020-12-24.