Dave Middleton
No. 28, 84
Position:End, wide receiver, halfback
Personal information
Born:(1933-11-23)November 23, 1933
Birmingham, Alabama
Died:December 29, 2007(2007-12-29) (aged 74)
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Height:6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Weight:194 lb (88 kg)
Career information
High school:Birmingham (AL) Ensley
NFL Draft:1955 / Round: 1 / Pick: 12
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Receiving yards:2,966
Yards per reception:16.2
Receiving touchdowns:17
Player stats at NFL.com · PFR

David Hinton Middleton (November 23, 1933 – December 29, 2007) was an American football end, wide receiver, and halfback.

A native of Birmingham, Alabama, Middleton played college football as a halfback for the Auburn Tigers in 1953 and 1954. He was also the 1955 Southeastern Conference champion in the 100-yard dash.

He was selected by the Detroit Lions in the first round of the 1955 NFL Draft and played for the Lions in the National Football League (NFL) from 1955 to 1960. As a rookie, he ranked third in the NFL with 44 receptions, and he was the Lions' leading receiver in 1955, 1956, and 1958. He won an NFL championship with the Lions in 1957 and caught a touchdown pass in the 1957 NFL Championship Game. He concluded his NFL career with the Minnesota Vikings in their inaugural season of 1961. In seven NFL seasons, he totaled 183 receptions, 2,966 receiving yards, and 19 touchdowns.[1]

Middleton attended medical school while playing for the Lions and had a career as an obstetrician-gynecologist after his football career ended.

Early years

Middleton was born in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1933 and attended Ensley High School.[1] He attended Auburn University, where he played college football as a halfback for the Auburn Tigers football team. In 1954, he rushed for 482 yards and 158 receiving yards and scored five touchdowns.[2] In 1955, he was also the Southeastern Conference champion in the 100-yard dash, an event in which he was time at 9.6 seconds.[3]

Professional football

Detroit Lions

Middleton was drafted by the Detroit Lions in the first round (12th overall pick) of the 1955 NFL Draft,[1] and agreed to terms with the Lions during a February 1955 meeting with head coach Buddy Parker.[4] He remained with the Lions for six seasons from 1955 through 1960.[1] He was the Lions' leading receiver in 1955 (44 receptions for 663 yards), 1956 (39 receptions for 606 yards), and 1958 (29 receptions for 506 yards).[5][6][7]

As a rookie in 1955, he played at the halfback position for five games before being switched to the offensive end position.[8] Despite playing only half the season as an end, he quickly became quarterback Bobby Layne's favorite target and ranked among the NFL's 1955 leaders with 44 receptions (third), 1,058 all-purpose yards (sixth), 663 receiving yards (sixth), 55.3 receiving yards per game (sixth), and 9.3 yards per touch (sixth).[1][8]

After the 1955 season, Middleton enrolled in medical school at the University of Tennessee Medical School in Memphis. As his classes ran into late September, he negotiated a contract with the Lions that permitted him to miss training camp and join the team just prior to the start of the regular season on September 30.[9] Despite missing training camp, Middleton again ranked among the NFL leaders in 1956 with 39 receptions (sixth), 606 receiving yards (sixth), and 50.5 receiving yards per game (seventh).[1]

In 1957, Middleton helped the Lions win the NFL championship, making a diving catch in the end zone on 28-yard touchdown pass from Tobin Rote in the 1957 NFL Championship Game.[10] In 1959, he had a career-long, 79-yard reception on a pass from Earl Morrall.[11]

During his career with the Lions, Middleton played his best games against the Chicago Bears:[12] 8 catches for 168 yards and a touchdown on November 20, 1955;[13] 7 catches for 146 yards and two touchdowns on December 2, 1956;[14] 7 catches for 87 yards and a touchdown on December 15, 1957;[15] and 5 catches for 144 yards and a touchdown in 1958.[16]

Middleton continued his medical school education while playing for the Lions, attending school from January through September and missing training camp.[17] Middleton acknowledged that missing training camp impacted his playing career.[17] Lions coach George Wilson agreed: "If he had given himself a chance, Doc would be among the all-time greats. As it is, he's plenty good."[12]

Minnesota Vikings

In January 1961, Middleton announced that he was retiring from football to begin his medical career.[18] In August 1961, he took a leave of absence from the University of Michigan Hospital to play a final season in the NFL, this time with the Minnesota Vikings.[3] The Vikings, in their inaugural season, had acquired the rights to Middleton in a special draft in late January.[19] He appeared in 12 games as a wide receiver for the 1961 Vikings. The Vikings had rookie Fran Tarkenton as their quarterback, and Middleton was the team's second leading receiver with 30 catches for 444 yards.[20] Middleton again announced his retirement from the NFL in July 1962.[21]

Family and later years

Middleton was married in 1958 to Jeanette Rousseau at Paint Rock, Alabama.[22] They had three children, Clark, Eric, and Beth.[23]

After retiring from the NFL, Middleton practiced as an obstetrician-gynecologist in Ann Arbor, Michigan.[17] In 1997, he suffered a stroke, and in 2001, he moved to Huron Woods, an assisted living facility in Ann Arbor. On Christmas Eve 2007, Middleton fell and suffered a head injury, which led to his death five days later.[23]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Dave Middleton Stats". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved July 26, 2017.
  2. ^ "Dave Middleton". SR/College Football. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved July 26, 2017.
  3. ^ a b "Calling Dr. Middleton . . . Good Medicine for Vikings". Minneapolis Morning Tribune. August 30, 1961. p. 21 – via Newspapers.com.
  4. ^ "Middleton in the Bag". Detroit Free Press. February 4, 1955. p. 23.
  5. ^ "1955 Detroit Lions Statistics & Players". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved July 26, 2017.
  6. ^ "1956 Detroit Lions Statistics & Players". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved July 26, 2017.
  7. ^ "1958 Detroit Lions Statistics & Players". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved July 26, 2017.
  8. ^ a b "Lions' Middleton Is Ray of Hope". Ironwood Daily Globe. January 26, 1956. p. 17 – via Newspapers.com.
  9. ^ Max Moseley (July 21, 1956). "The Grandstand". The Montgomery Advertiser. p. 12 – via Newspapers.com.
  10. ^ "Play-by-Play of Victory". Detroit Free Press. December 30, 1957. p. 2 – via Newspapers.com.
  11. ^ "On That TD: Now You Know All, Lion Fans!". Detroit Free Press. November 16, 1959. p. 37 – via Newspapers.com.
  12. ^ a b George Puscas (November 19, 1955). "Call Doctor for Bears". Detroit Free Press. p. 42.
  13. ^ Nov. 20, 1955 box score
  14. ^ Dec. 2, 1956 box score
  15. ^ Dec. 15, 1957 box score
  16. ^ Dec. 14, 1958 box score
  17. ^ a b c "Ex-Lion Middleton is still hitting those books". Detroit Free Press. December 10, 1978. p. 2E – via Newspapers.com.
  18. ^ "'It's Been Nice, Lions' --- Dr. Dave Middleton". Detroit Free Press. January 9, 1961. p. 31 – via Newspapers.com.
  19. ^ George Puscas (January 27, 1961). "Vikings Draft Middleton From Lions". Detroit Free Press. p. 45 – via Newspapers.com.
  20. ^ "1961 Minnesota Vikings Statistics & Players". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved July 26, 2017.
  21. ^ "Dave Middleton Ends Pro Football Career". Battle Creek Enquirer. July 22, 1962. p. 35.
  22. ^ "In the News". Chicago Tribune. March 18, 1958. p. 37.
  23. ^ a b "Death notice for David Hinton Middleton M.D." Michigan.com. Retrieved July 26, 2017.