Table of Contents
Detroit Lions Introduction
The Detroit Lions, an American professional football team, call Detroit their home. The Lions belong to the NFL and play in the NFC North Division, with their home games held at Ford Field in Downtown Detroit. They originally started in Portsmouth, Ohio, known as the Portsmouth Spartans.
In 1930, they joined the NFL. But financial troubles led them to move to Detroit in 1934, and they became the Lions, taking inspiration from the Detroit Tigers, the city’s MLB team.
During their early years, the Lions achieved significant success, winning four NFL Championship Games between 1935 and 1957, predating the Super Bowl era. However, their fortune waned afterward.
Following their championship win in 1957, the team’s playoff success has been limited, with only a solitary playoff victory in the 1991 season.
This extended period without postseason success represents the lengthiest playoff win drought in the league’s annals.
Remarkably, the Lions are the only franchise operational throughout the entire Super Bowl era but have yet to appear in the Super Bowl.
Logos and Uniforms
Except for a short-lived alteration to scarlet and black uniforms from 1948 to 1950, introduced under the guidance of then-head coach Bo McMillin, who drew inspiration from his coaching stint at Indiana, the Lions’ attire has remained remarkably consistent since their relocation to Detroit in 1934.
Their signature look includes silver helmets, silver pants, and jerseys in either blue or white. Glenn Presnell, the last survivor of the 1934 Lions, recounted how team owner George A. Richards involved him and his wife in choosing the team’s colors when the Portsmouth Spartans moved to Detroit.
They had options like red and white, orange and black, and blue and silver. The Presnells favored blue and silver, and Richards selected this combination.
The Lions’ distinctive shade of blue is officially referred to as “Honolulu blue,” drawing its inspiration from the captivating color of the waves along the shores of Hawaii.
Over the years, there have been minor alterations to the uniform design, including changes to silver stripe patterns on jersey sleeves, modifications to jersey number colors, and the addition of “TV numbers” on the sleeves in 1956.
In the following years, there were several alterations to the logo, jersey numbers, and facemasks. Additionally, the team donned throwback jerseys in 1994 and during their customary Thanksgiving Day games from 2001 to 2004.
In 2003, black trim was added to the logo and jerseys, and the facemasks on the helmets were changed to black. An alternate black jersey was introduced in 2005.
In 2008, the team adopted a throwback uniform to celebrate their 75th anniversary, which later became the permanent alternate jersey. In 2009, the Lions unveiled a new logo and modern uniforms.
On February 1, 2017, the Lions introduced a new typeface logo and eliminated the color black from their identity.
They then unveiled updated uniforms, including new options and a tribute to the team’s former owner, William Clay Ford. On September 20, 2021, the Lions briefly wore white pants similar to those from the 1948 and 1949 seasons.
In 2023, the Lions planned to celebrate their 90th season with a commemorative logo and jersey patch, paying homage to their logo from 1961 to 1969.
Additionally, they revealed a new alternate blue helmet featuring the 1960s logo, paired with the grey uniform, marking the first time the team wore a blue helmet since 1955.
Thanksgiving Day Tradition of Detroit Lions
In 1934, George A. Richards, the team’s owner, held a unique position as the proprietor of a prominent radio affiliate, WJR, affiliated with the NBC Blue Network.
This network would later transform into today’s ABC. Richards leveraged this connection to strike a significant agreement with NBC, enabling him to broadcast the team’s Thanksgiving games live across the entire network’s station lineup.
Since then, the longstanding tradition of the Lions playing on Thanksgiving has persisted without interruptions.
Pride of the Lions
In 2009, the franchise introduced the “Pride of the Lions,” the ring of honor for the team’s most esteemed and celebrated players.
75th Season All-Time Team
During halftime of the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars on November 9, 2008, the Lions paid tribute to their 75th-season All-Time Team.
This exceptional team was selected through a combination of fan polling and the decisions of a selection committee. Players subsequently elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame are indicated in bold.
Lions All-Time Team
On September 29, 2019, during halftime of their game against the Kansas City Chiefs, the Lions celebrated their All-Time Team as part of the NFL’s centennial celebrations.
The formation of this distinguished team involved a multifaceted selection process that drew upon fan voting, insights from the Detroit Lions Legends Community, input from team executives, and the expertise of carefully chosen members of the media.
Distinguished players on their way to the Pro Football Hall of Fame receive special recognition through bold text.
This comprehensive approach ensures that the team’s composition is a true reflection of the diverse perspectives and expertise that collectively shape the franchise’s legacy.
Detroit Lions’s Head coaches
Throughout their franchise history, the Lions have been led by 30 head coaches. The inaugural head coach was Hal Griffen, who achieved an overall record of 5–6–3 during the 1930 season.
Wayne Fontes holds the distinction of being the longest-serving head coach in Lions history, guiding the team from 1988 to 1996. As of January 20, 2021, the current head coach of the Lions is Dan Campbell.
Detroit Lions’s Rivalries
Throughout their history, the Lions have established significant rivalries with various teams. Their longest-standing rivals are the Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers, with matchups dating back to 1930.
The Minnesota Vikings have been a divisional rival since their debut season 1961. Additionally, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were a notable divisional opponent for 25 seasons, spanning from 1977 to 2001.
The Lions also had a preseason rivalry with the Cleveland Browns, known as the Great Lakes Classic, where they competed for The Barge Trophy.
The Lions and Browns had an intense rivalry in the 1950s, engaging in four NFL championship matchups, with Detroit emerging victorious in three contests.
However, their regular-season encounters became less frequent after the 1970 AFL–NFL merger, mainly due to the Browns’ relocation to the American Football Conference (AFC).
Detroit Lions’s Radio
The Lions’ primary radio broadcaster is WXYT-FM. Dan Miller provides the play-by-play commentary, Lomas Brown offers color commentary, and T. J. Lang serves as the sideline reporter.
In 2015, the team announced a significant change by moving from WXYT-FM to WJR for the 2016 NFL season, concluding a 20-year partnership with CBS Radio.
The decision to switch stations was reportedly triggered by the team’s request for the station to terminate on-air personality Mike Valenti. Valenti had a history of making critical remarks about the Lions during his drivetime show, and this request was made as a condition for any future contract renewal.
A CBS Radio spokesperson explained that their refusal was based on maintaining the station’s integrity. Starting with the 2021 season, the Lions’ flagship station returned to WXYT-FM.
Detroit Lions’s Television
In 2015, WJBK assumed the role of the flagship station for Lions preseason games, taking over from WXYZ-TV. For the 2023 season, the broadcast team included Jason Ross Jr. providing play-by-play, Devin Gardner offering color commentary, and Dannie Rogers delivering sideline reports. Bally Sports Detroit is responsible for producing the games.
In regular season games, the Lions’ broadcasts are usually regional and are shown on Fox. However, if the Lions host an AFC team in Detroit, the game is regionally broadcast on CBS.
Since 2014, the implementation of the NFL’s “cross flex” broadcast rules allows any Lions game initially scheduled to air on Fox to be moved to CBS. Notably, the Thanksgiving Day game in Detroit is always nationally televised.
It was in 2011 that the Lions achieved the distinction of becoming the final NFC team to make an appearance on NBC’s Sunday Night Football, a program the network had been broadcasting since 2006.
Regarding blackouts, the Lions faced local broadcast restrictions due to their winless performance in 2008 and a challenging 2–14 season in 2009.
This was compounded by the economic effects of the Great Recession in Michigan, resulting in insufficient ticket sales by the 72-hour blackout deadline.
The first blackout at Ford Field occurred on October 26, 2008, during a game against the Washington Redskins, breaking a 50-game sellout streak.
Another blackout happened during the 2009 season when the Lions ended their losing streak against the Redskins and also during their comeback victory over the Cleveland Browns.
During 2010, there was a solitary blackout, coincidentally during a game against the Redskins, a match that the Lions emerged victorious from with a 37–25 score.
However, the landscape changed in 2015 when the NFL suspended its blackout policies, ensuring that all Lions games would be televised on local TV, irrespective of ticket sales.
Notably, games at the Lions’ previous home, the 80,000-seat Pontiac Silverdome, also experienced blackouts despite successful seasons and the popularity of star players like Barry Sanders.
Detroit Lions cheerleaders
The Lions made a significant announcement on June 13, 2016, revealing the introduction of cheerleaders to their organization.
Notably, Rebecca Girard-Smoker, who previously served as the director of the Detroit Pistons dance team, was appointed the coach of the newly formed cheerleading squad.
This decision marked a historic moment, as it had been over four decades since the team had an official cheerleading squad.
These cheerleaders play an integral role in providing entertainment during football games and participating in various community events.
FAQs about Detroit Lions
Have the Detroit Lions ever been to a Super Bowl?
Four NFL teams have yet to reach a Super Bowl: the Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Houston Texans.
It’s worth noting that the Browns (1950, 1954, 1955, 1964) and Lions (1935, 1952, 1953, 1957) had secured NFL Championship Game victories before the Super Bowl’s inception in the 1966 season.
Who founded the Detroit Lions?
In 1930, the franchise commenced as the Portsmouth (Ohio) Spartans. It was in 1934 that Detroit radio executive George A. Richards acquired the Spartans and subsequently relocated them to Detroit, rebranding them as the Lions.
Who are the owners of the Detroit Lions?
Born on October 31, 1951, Sheila Firestone Ford Hamp is an American businesswoman and football executive.
Sheila Firestone Ford Hamp has strong family connections to the Ford and Firestone lineages. She holds the esteemed positions of principal owner and chairwoman of the Detroit Lions within the NFL.
Her leadership is significant in shaping the future of the franchise. With her familial heritage and business acumen, she plays a pivotal role in the team’s operations and decision-making.
Her influence extends to critical aspects of the Lions’ management and strategy.
Why are the Detroit Tigers called the Lions?
George A. Richards chose the name, envisioning a dominant NFL team, much like the Lions in the Jungle. Additionally, he sought a connection to Detroit’s baseball team, the Tigers.
What is the Detroit Lions known for?
The Lions have clinched four NFL championships, with triumphs over the New York Giants in 1935 and the Cleveland Browns in 1952, 1953, and 1957.
However, the team has faced challenges following their last championship win, with only a single playoff victory since 1991.
Why did the Lions change their name?
Facing financial difficulties, the franchise moved to Detroit in 1934 and adopted the name “Lions” as a nod to the city’s MLB team, the Detroit Tigers.
Remarkably, they achieved victory in four NFL Championship Games between 1935 and 1957, all predating the Super Bowl era.
How many rings do the Lions have?
Competing in the National Football Conference (NFC) within the NFL, the Lions have earned four NFL championships, specifically in 1935, 1952, 1953, and 1957.
- Detroit Lions Official Website
- Wikipedia – Detroit Lions
- Wikipedia – National Football League
- Why Do the Lions and Cowboys Play on Thanksgiving?
- Roger Brown’s Restaurant – The World of Football
- Vintage Brand – Detroit Lions
- FactSnippet – Detroit Lions
- Detailedpedia – Detroit Lions
- The Greatest Draft Class in NFL History – Pittsburgh Steelers
- Detroit Lions – NFL Operations
- List of Super Bowl Champions
- Sheila Ford Hamp – Wikipedia
- Detroit Lions – Detroit Historical Society
- Lion Logo – Senior Justice
- NFL Teams Seeking Their First Super Bowl Title in 2022 – NBC Boston