Detroit Lions

Detroit Lions
Current season
Established July 12, 1930; 89 years ago (July 12, 1930)[1]
First season: 1930
Play in Ford Field
Detroit, Michigan
Headquartered in Allen Park, Michigan
Detroit Lions logo
Detroit Lions wordmark
Logo Wordmark
League/conference affiliations

National Football League (1930–present)

Current uniform
Composite Detroit Lions uniforms 2017.png
Team colors Honolulu blue, silver[2][3][4]
         
Fight song Gridiron Heroes
Mascot Roary the Lion
Personnel
Owner(s) Martha Firestone Ford
Chairman Martha Firestone Ford
President Rod Wood
General manager Bob Quinn
Head coach Matt Patricia[5]
Team history
Championships
League championships (4)
Conference championships (4)
Division championships (4)
Playoff appearances (17)
Home fields

The Detroit Lions are a professional American football team based in Detroit. They compete in the National Football League (NFL) as a member club of the National Football Conference (NFC) North division. The team plays its home games at Ford Field in Downtown Detroit.

Originally based in Portsmouth, Ohio and called the Portsmouth Spartans, the team formally joined the NFL on July 12, 1930 and began play in the 1930 season.[1] Despite success within the NFL, they could not survive in Portsmouth, then the NFL's second smallest city. The team was purchased and relocated to Detroit and subsequently renamed the Lions for the 1934 season.[6]

The Lions have won four NFL championships. However, their last was in 1957, which gives the club the second-longest NFL championship drought behind the Arizona Cardinals (who last won in 1947).[7][8] They are one of four current teams and the only NFC team to have not yet played in the Super Bowl.[8][9] They are also the only franchise to have been in operation for all 54 seasons of the Super Bowl era without having appeared in one (the Cleveland Browns were not in operation for the 1996 to 1998 seasons).[8][10]

Franchise history

Logos and uniforms

Aside from a brief change to maroon in 1948 instituted by then head coach Bo McMillin, which was influenced by his years as coach at Indiana, the Lions uniforms have basically remained the same. The design consists of silver helmets, silver pants, and either blue or white jerseys.[11][12]

The shade of blue used for Lions uniforms and logos is officially known as "Honolulu blue", which is supposedly inspired by the color of the waves off the coast of Hawaii.[12]

There have been minor changes to the uniform design throughout the years, such as changing the silver stripe patterns on the jersey sleeves, and changing the colors of the jersey numbers. "TV numbers", which are auxiliary uniform numbers to help TV broadcasters identify players from the line of scrimmage, were added to the jersey sleeves in 1956.[12] White trim was added to the logo in 1970, with outlines (white on the blue jersey, silver on the white jersey) added to the numbers in 1972; the color arrangement on the numbers on the blue jerseys was reversed in 1982.[11] The gray facemasks became blue in 1984. In 1998, the team wore blue pants with their white jerseys along with grey socks but dropped that combination after the season.[11][13] In 1999, the "TV numbers" on the sleeves were moved to the shoulders.[14]

In 1994, every NFL team wore throwback jerseys, and the Lions' were similar to the jerseys used during their 1935 championship season. The helmets and pants were solid silver, the jerseys Honolulu blue with silver numbers and the jersey did not have "TV numbers" on the sleeves. The team wore solid blue socks and black cleats. The helmets also did not have a logo, as helmets were simple leather back then.[11] The Lions also wore '50s-style jerseys during their traditional Thanksgiving Day games from 2001 to 2004 as the NFL encouraged teams to wear throwback jerseys on Thanksgiving Day.[15][16][17][18][19]

In 2003, the team added black trim to their logo and jerseys. The face masks on the helmet changed from blue to black with the introduction of the new color. In 2005, the team introduced an alternate black jersey.[11][20]

For 2008, the team dropped the black jersey in favor of a throwback uniform to commemorate the franchise's 75th anniversary. The throwback uniform became the team's permanent alternate jersey in 2009, replacing the former black alternate.[21] The Lions officially unveiled a new logo and uniforms on April 20, 2009. The logo was given a flowing mane and fangs, while the typeface featured a modern font.[22]

On February 1, 2017, the Lions announced a new typeface, logo, and the complete removal of the color black from the team identity. While the previous logo was retained, the border was changed from black to silver.[2][20] The Lions then unveiled the new uniforms on April 13, 2017, which include blue pants for the first time since 1998; the facemasks also became chrome.[23][24] The Lions also added the initials "WCF" to the left sleeve as a permanent tribute to William Clay Ford, who owned the team from 1963 until his death in 2014. The sleeve addition replaces the black "WCF" patch on the left breast that was added after Ford's death.[25]

Thanksgiving Day tradition

In 1934, then-team owner George A. Richards, who also was the owner a major radio affiliate of the NBC Blue Network, WJR in Detroit, the forerunner to today's ABC, negotiated an agreement with NBC to carry his Thanksgiving games live across all of the network's stations.[26] Since then, the tradition of the Lions playing on Thanksgiving has continued uninterrupted.[27]

Home attendance

Home attendance at Ford Field
Year Total Attendance
2006 487,116
2007 490,436
2008 435,979
2009 395,162
2010 450,286
2011 509,940
2012 510,158
2013 510,369
2014 504,198
2015 490,782
2016 486,342
2017 513,100
2018 502,361
2019 490,737
Source:[28]

Players of note

Current roster

Retired numbers

Detroit Lions retired numbers
No. Player Position Tenure Retired
7 Dutch Clark QB 1934–1938 October 15, 1939[1][29][30]
20 Lem Barney CB 1967–1977 November 25, 2004[31]
20 Billy Sims RB 1980–1984 November 25, 2004[31]
20 Barry Sanders RB 1989–1998 November 25, 2004[31]
22 Bobby Layne QB, K 1950–1958 [1]
37 Doak Walker HB, K, P 1950–1955 December 11, 1955[1][32][33]
56 Joe Schmidt 1 LB 1953–1965 [1]
85 Chuck Hughes 2 WR 1970–1971 [1]

Notes:

  • 1 The #56 was unretired with Schmidt's blessing when the Lions acquired linebacker Pat Swilling from the New Orleans Saints. No player has worn it since Swilling left.[34]
  • 2 Posthumous. Hughes died of a heart attack during a game on October 24, 1971, and his #85 was withdrawn from circulation.[1][35][36][37] Over the years, however, the number would return to circulation.[38]

Special cases:

  • The Lions retired #93 for the 2009 season after Corey Smith disappeared, presumed dead, when a boat he was fishing in with friends capsized off the Florida coast.[39] The Lions also wore 93 decals on their helmets that season.[40] The number was assigned to Kyle Vanden Bosch in 2010.[41]

Pro Football Hall of Famers

Detroit Lions Hall of Famers
Players
No. Name Positions Seasons Inducted No. Name Positions Seasons Inducted
20 Lem Barney DB 1967–1977 1992[42] 22 Bobby Layne QB 1950–1958 1967[43]
24 Jack Christiansen DB 1951–1958 1970[44] 44 Dick LeBeau DB 1959–1972 2010[45]
7 Dutch Clark QB
Coach
1934–1938
1937–1938
1963[46] 30 Ollie Matson RB 1963 1972[47]
76 Lou Creekmur G/T 1950–1959 1996[48] 39 Hugh McElhenny HB 1964 1970[49]
77 Curley Culp DT 1980–1981 2013[50] 20 Barry Sanders RB 1989–1998 2004[51]
35 Bill Dudley HB 1947–1949 1966[52] 88 Charlie Sanders TE 1968–1977 2007[53]
72 Frank Gatski C 1957 1985[54] 56 Joe Schmidt LB
Coach
1953–1965
1967–1972
1973[55]
35 John Henry Johnson FB 1957–1959 1987[56] 63 Dick Stanfel OG 1952–1955 2016[57]
71 Alex Karras DT 1958–1970 2020[58] 37 Doak Walker HB 1950–1955 1986[59]
81 Dick "Night Train" Lane CB 1960–1965 1974[60] 50 Alex Wojciechowicz C, LB 1938–1946 1968[61]
28 Yale Lary DB, P 1952–1953
1956–1964
1979[62]

Pride of the Lions

In 2009, the Pride of the Lions was established. The Pride of the Lions is the ring of honor for the franchise's greatest players.[63]

Pride of the Lions
No. Player Position Tenure
20 Lem Barney CB 1967–1977
76 Roger Brown DT 1960–1966
24 Jack Christiansen DB 1951–1958
7 Dutch Clark QB 1934–1938
76 Lou Creekmur G/T 1950–1959
4 Jason Hanson K 1992–2012
71 Alex Karras DT 1958–1970
81 Dick "Night Train" Lane CB 1960–1965
28 Yale Lary DB, P 1952–1953
1956–1964
22 Bobby Layne QB 1950–1958
44 Dick LeBeau DB 1959–1972
84 Herman Moore WR 1991–2001
20 Barry Sanders RB 1989–1998
88 Charlie Sanders TE 1968–1977
56 Joe Schmidt LB 1953–1965
63 Dick Stanfel OG 1952–1955
37 Doak Walker HB 1950–1955
50 Alex Wojciechowicz C, LB 1938–1946

75th Season All-Time Team

On November 9, 2008, the Lions honored the 75th Season All-Time Team during halftime against the Jacksonville Jaguars.[64][65] The team was chosen via an online fan poll and selection committee.[64]

75th Season All-Time Team
No. Player Position Tenure
6 Jim Arnold P 1986–1993
60 Al Baker DE 1978–1982
20 Lem Barney CB 1967–1977
36 Bennie Blades DB 1988–1996
75 Lomas Brown T 1985–1995
76 Roger Brown DT 1960–1966
24 Jack Christiansen DB 1951–1958
7 Dutch Clark QB 1934–1938
89 Gail Cogdill WR 1960–1968
76 Lou Creekmur G/T 1950–1959
25 Jim David DB 1952–1959
44 Don Doll DB 1949–1952
78 Doug English DT 1975–1985
54 Ed Flanagan C 1965–1974
53 Kevin Glover C 1985–1997
75 John Gordy OG 1957–1967
23 Mel Gray KR/PR 1989–1994
4 Jason Hanson 1 K 1992–2012
71 Alex Karras DT 1958–1970
81 Dick "Night Train" Lane CB 1960–1965
28 Yale Lary DB, P 1952–1953
1956–1964
22 Bobby Layne QB 1950–1958
44 Dick LeBeau DB 1959–1972
84 Herman Moore WR 1991–2001
3 Eddie Murray K 1980–1991
91 Robert Porcher DE 1992–2004
20 Barry Sanders RB 1989–1998
88 Charlie Sanders TE 1968–1977
30 Cory Schlesinger FB 1995–2006
56 Joe Schmidt LB 1953–1965
66 Harley Sewell OG 1953–1962
20 Billy Sims RB 1980–1984
54 Chris Spielman LB 1988–1995
37 Doak Walker HB 1950–1955
55 Wayne Walker LB 1958–1972
50 Alex Wojciechowicz C, LB 1938–1946

Note:

  • 1 Hanson was active at the time of the selection.[65]

Lions All-Time Team

On September 29, 2019, the Lions honored their All-Time Team in celebration of the NFL's centennial during halftime against the Kansas City Chiefs. The team was chosen via fan voting, contributions from the Detroit Lions Legends Community, team executives, and select members of the media.[66]

Lions All-Time Team
No. Player Position Tenure
60 Al Baker DE 1978–1982
20 Lem Barney CB 1967–1977
36 Bennie Blades DB 1988–1996
75 Lomas Brown T 1985–1995
76 Roger Brown DT 1960–1966
24 Jack Christiansen DB 1951–1958
7 Dutch Clark QB 1934–1938
89 Gail Cogdill WR 1960–1968
76 Lou Creekmur G/T 1950–1959
25 Jim David DB 1952–1959
44 Don Doll DB 1949–1952
20 Ox Emerson G, C, LB 1934–1937
78 Doug English DT 1975–1985
54 Ed Flanagan C 1965–1974
53 Kevin Glover C 1985–1997
23 Mel Gray KR/PR 1989–1994
4 Jason Hanson K 1992–2012
81 Calvin Johnson WR 2007–2015
71 Alex Karras DT 1958–1970
81 Dick "Night Train" Lane CB 1960–1965
28 Yale Lary DB, P 1952–1953
1956–1964
22 Bobby Layne QB 1950–1958
44 Dick LeBeau DB 1959–1972
53 Mike Lucci LB 1965–1973
84 Herman Moore WR 1991–2001
48 Don Muhlbach LS 2004–present
33 Nick Pietrosante FB 1959–1965
91 Robert Porcher DE 1992–2004
20 Barry Sanders RB 1989–1998
88 Charlie Sanders TE 1968–1977
30 Cory Schlesinger FB 1995–2006
56 Joe Schmidt LB 1953–1965
66 Harley Sewell OG 1953–1962
20 Billy Sims RB 1980–1984
54 Chris Spielman LB 1988–1995
9 Matthew Stafford QB 2009–present
63 Dick Stanfel OG 1952–1955
37 Doak Walker HB 1950–1955
50 Alex Wojciechowicz C, LB 1938–1946

Michigan Sports Hall of Fame

Staff

Current staff

Rivalries

The Lions have had several division rivals in their existence. Their oldest rivals are the Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers, whom they have faced since 1930.[67][68] The Minnesota Vikings have been in a division with Detroit ever since their inaugural season in 1961.[69][70] Another notable longtime division opponent was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (25 seasons from 1977–2001).[71]

The Lions also have a preseason rivalry with the Cleveland Browns, dubbed the Great Lakes Classic.[72] The two teams have been playing for The Barge Trophy since 2002.[73] The Lions and Browns had a solid rivalry in the 1950s, when they met four times for the NFL championship (Detroit won three of the matchups); they have met much less frequently during the regular season since the 1970 AFL–NFL merger due to the Browns' move to the AFC.[74]

Radio and television

Radio

The Lions' flagship radio station is WJR 760 AM.[75] Dan Miller does play-by-play and Lomas Brown does color commentary.[76]

In 2015, the team announced that they were moving from WXYT-FM to WJR for the 2016 NFL season, ending a 20-year relationship with CBS Radio.[77] The decision to part with WXYT was reportedly instigated by a demand by the team for the station to fire on-air personality Mike Valenti, who has had a history of making critical comments about the Lions during his drivetime show, as a condition of any future renewal. A CBS Radio spokesperson stated that their refusal was meant to maintain the station's integrity.[77][78]

TV

In 2015, WJBK took over from WXYZ-TV as the flagship station for Lions preseason games.[79] In 2019, the announcers were Fred McLeod with play-by-play, Chris Spielman with color commentary, and Tori Petry with sideline reports.[80] Games are produced by Fox Sports Detroit.[81]

Regular season games are broadcast regionally on Fox, except when the Lions play an AFC team in Detroit, in which case the game airs regionally on CBS; however, since 2014, with the institution of the NFL's "cross flex" broadcast rules, any Lions game slated to air on Fox can be moved to CBS.[82][83] The Thanksgiving Day game in Detroit is always televised nationally.[27] In 2011, the Lions became the last NFC team to play on NBC's Sunday Night Football since the network began airing Sunday night games in 2006.[84]

The Lions' winless performance in 2008 and 2–14 season in 2009, coupled with the effects of the Great Recession in Michigan, led to several local broadcast blackouts, as local fans did not purchase enough tickets by the 72-hour blackout deadline. The first blackout in the then seven-year history of Ford Field was on October 26, 2008 against the Washington Redskins. The previous 50 regular season home games had been sellouts.[85] The second home game of the 2009 season in which the Lions broke the losing streak, also against the Redskins, was blacked out locally, as well as the comeback victory over the Cleveland Browns.[86][87][88] The Lions had only one blackout in 2010, yet another Redskins game, which the Lions won 37–25.[89] However, in 2015, the NFL suspended its blackout policies, meaning that all Lions games will be shown on local TV, regardless of tickets sold.[90]

Games were also often blacked out at the Lions' previous home, the 80,000-seat Pontiac Silverdome, despite winning seasons and the success and popularity of star players such as Barry Sanders.[91][92]

Lions cheerleaders

On June 13, 2016, the Lions announced their decision to add official cheerleaders to the organization.[93] The team also announced that Rebecca Girard-Smoker, formerly the director of the Detroit Pistons dance team, would be the coach of the cheerleading squad. It marked the first time in over 40 years the team had an official cheerleading squad. The cheerleading squad is a part of the entertainment during football games, and active at community events.[94]

See also

Copyright