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Detroit Lions

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Detroit Lions
Current season
Established 1930; 85 years ago (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
Team colors

Honolulu Blue, Silver, Black, White[1][2]

Fight song Gridiron Heroes
Mascot Roary the Lion
Theo "Gridiron" Spight (fight song singer)
Owner(s) Martha Firestone Ford
(Widow of William Clay Ford, Sr.)
Chairman Martha Firestone Ford
President Rod Wood
General manager Sheldon White (interim)
Head coach Jim Caldwell
Team history
  • Portsmouth Spartans (1930–1933)
  • Detroit Lions (1934–present)

League championships (4)

Conference championships (4)

Division championships (4)

Playoff appearances (17)
  • NFL: 1932, 1935, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1957, 1970, 1982, 1983, 1991, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1999, 2011, 2014
Home fields

In Portsmouth, Ohio

In Detroit

a.k.a. Briggs Stadium (1938–1960)

In Pontiac, Michigan

The Detroit Lions are a professional American football team based in Detroit, Michigan. They are members of the North Division of the National Football Conference (NFC) in the National Football League (NFL), and play their 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.[3] Despite success within the NFL, they could not survive in Portsmouth, then the NFL's smallest city. The team was purchased and moved to Detroit for the 1934 season.

The Lions have won four NFL championships, tied for 9th overall in total championships amongst all 32 NFL franchises; however, their last was in 1957, which gives the club the second-longest NFL championship drought behind the Arizona Cardinals. They are one of four current teams, and the only NFC team, to have not yet played in the Super Bowl.

Franchise history

Logos and uniforms

Detroit Lions uniform: 2003–2008
Detroit Lions uniform: 1999–2002

Aside from a brief change to maroon in 1948 instituted by then head coach Bo McMillin (influenced by his years as coach at Indiana), the Lions uniforms have basically remained the same since the team debuted in 1930. The design consists of silver helmets, silver pants, and either blue or white jerseys.

Lions logo (1970–2002). A variation of this logo with a black border was used until the 2009 NFL season, when the current logo was implemented.

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. White trim was added to the logo in 1970. In 1998, the team wore blue pants with their white jerseys along with grey socks but dropped that combination after the season. In 1999, the "TV numbers" on the sleeves were moved to the shoulders.

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. The shade was chosen by Cy Huston, the Lions first vice president and general manager, and of the choice, he said: "They had me looking at so many blues I am blue in the face," Huston said about the selection. "But anyway, it's the kind of blue, I am told, that will match with silver."

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 along with black shoes. The helmets also did not have a logo, as helmets were simple leather back then. 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.

In 2003, the team added black trim to their logo and the jerseys. The face masks on the helmet changed from blue to black with the introduction of the new color. Additionally, an alternate home field jersey which makes black the dominant color (in place of Honolulu Blue) was introduced in 2005.

For 2008, the team dropped the black alternate jerseys 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.[4] The Lions officially unveiled new logo designs and uniforms on April 20, 2009. The Lion on the helmet now has a flowing mane and fangs, and the typeface of "Lions" is more modern.

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 Source:[5]

Players of note

Current roster

Detroit Lions roster

Running backs

Wide receivers

Tight ends

Offensive linemen

Defensive linemen


Defensive backs

Special teams

Reserve lists

Practice squad

Rookies in italics
Roster updated October 20, 2015
Depth ChartTransactions

53 Active, 6 Inactive, 10 Practice Squad

AFC rostersNFC rosters

Retired numbers

Detroit Lions retired numbers
No. Player Position Tenure
7 Dutch Clark QB 1934–38
20 Barry Sanders RB 1989–98
22 Bobby Layne QB, K 1950–58
37 Doak Walker HB, K, P 1950-55
56 Joe Schmidt LB 1953–65
85 Chuck Hughes 1 WR 1970–71


  • 1 Posthumous.
  • The #20 was retired specifically for Sanders, even though the retired number was also worn by RB Billy Sims and DB Lem Barney, both of whom are also among the top all-time Lions at their positions.
  • The No. 56 was unretired with Schmidt's blessing when the Lions acquired linebacker Pat Swilling from the Saints. No player has worn it since Swilling left.
  • Hughes died of a heart attack during a game on October 24, 1971, and his No. 85 was withdrawn from circulation. However, WR Kevin Johnson wore No. 85 during his stint in Detroit after asking permission from the Hughes family as he had worn that number throughout his professional career.

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.[6] The Lions also wore 93 stickers on their helmets that season. Number 93 was assigned to Kyle Vanden Bosch in 2010.

Pro Football Hall of Famers


Current staff

Detroit Lions staff
Front Office
Head Coaches
Offensive Coaches
Defensive Coaches
Special Teams Coaches
Strength and Conditioning

Coaching Staff
More NFL staffs

AFC East
NFC East

Divisions and division rivals

The Lions have been a part of multiple divisions and have had several division rivals in their existence. Their oldest rivals are the Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers, whom they have been paired with in a division since 1933. The Minnesota Vikings have been in a division with Detroit ever since their inaugural season in 1961. Other notable longtime division opponents were the Cleveland/Los Angeles Rams (29 seasons from 1937–1966, except for 1943), the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (25 seasons from 1977–2001), the San Francisco 49ers (17 seasons from 1950–1966), the Chicago Cardinals (16 seasons from 1933–1949, except for 1944), and the Baltimore Colts (14 seasons from 1953–1966).

The Lions also have a preseason rivalry with the Cleveland Browns, dubbed the Great Lakes Classic.[7] The two teams have been playing for The Barge Trophy since 2002.[8] 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).

NFL Western Division: 1933–1949

NFL National Conference: 1950–1952

NFL Western Conference: 1953–1966

  • Baltimore Colts (1953–1966)
  • Chicago Bears (1953–1966)
  • Detroit Lions (1953–1966)
  • Green Bay Packers (1953–1966)
  • Los Angeles Rams (1953–1966)
  • San Francisco 49ers (1953–1966)
  • Dallas Cowboys (1960)
  • Minnesota Vikings (1961–1966)

NFL Central Division: 1967–1969

  • Chicago Bears (1967–1969)
  • Detroit Lions (1967–1969)
  • Green Bay Packers (1967–1969)
  • Minnesota Vikings (1967–1969)

NFC Central: 1970–2001

  • Chicago Bears (1970–2001)
  • Detroit Lions (1970–2001)
  • Green Bay Packers (1970–2001)
  • Minnesota Vikings (1970–2001)
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1977–2001)

NFC North: 2002–present

  • Chicago Bears (2002–present)
  • Detroit Lions (2002–present)
  • Green Bay Packers (2002–present)
  • Minnesota Vikings (2002–present)

Radio and television


The Lions' flagship radio stations are WXYT-FM, 97.1 FM, and WXYT-AM, 1270 AM. Dan Miller does play-by-play, Jim Brandstatter does color commentary, and Tony Ortiz provides sideline reports.[9] If a conflict with Detroit Tigers or Detroit Red Wings coverage arises, only WXYT-FM serves as the Lions' flagship. The Lions and WXYT AM/FM renewed their partnership for three more seasons on October 9, 2009.[10]

On November 20, 2015, it was announced that the Detroit Lions would move to WJR beginning in the 2016 NFL season, ending the team's 20-year relationship with CBS Radio. The decision to part with CBS Radio was reportedly instigated by a demand by the team for WXYT to fire personality Mike Valenti—who has had a history of making comments critical of the Lions during his drive-time show, as a condition of any future renewal. A CBS Radio spokesperson stated that their refusal was meant to maintain the station's integrity.[11][12]



In 2015, WJBK took over from WXYZ-TV as the flagship station Lions preseason games. The announcers are Matt Shepard with play-by-play, Rob Rubick and Nate Burleson with color commentary, and FOX2's Jennifer Hammond with sideline reports. Wraparound shows and preseason games are produced by Fox Sports Detroit which also airs replays of the broadcasts.

Regular season

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. The Thanksgiving Day game in Detroit is always televised nationally on either Fox or CBS, depending upon which conference the visiting team plays in. The Detroit Lions were the last NFC team to play on NBC, since they got football back in 2006 (the Lions at Saints game on December 4, 2011 marked their 1st appearance). The Lions' official regular season pregame show is The Ford Lions Report.


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. In 2008, five of the Lions' final six home games of the season did not sell out, with the Thanksgiving game being the exception. The first blackout in the 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. The second home game of the 2009 season in which the Lions broke the losing streak (also against the Washington Redskins) was blacked out locally, as well as the comeback victory over the Cleveland Browns. The Lions had only one blackout in 2010, the Washington Redskins game, which the Lions won 37–25.[13]

Games were also often blacked out at the Lions' previous home, the (perhaps over-sized) 80,000-seat Pontiac Silverdome, despite winning seasons and the success and popularity of star players such as Barry Sanders.

See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ "Detroit Lions Team Capsule" (PDF). 2015 Official National Football League Record and Fact Book. National Football League. July 21, 2015. Retrieved September 11, 2015. 
  2. ^ "2012 Detroit Lions Logo Slick". NFL Properties, LLC. April 4, 2012. Retrieved September 11, 2015. 
  3. ^ "Detroit Lions Team Facts". Pro Football Hall of Fame. December 29, 2014. Retrieved December 29, 2014. 
  4. ^ Lions black uniforms have been officially retired, February 9, 2009
  5. ^ ESPN NFL Attendance Report
  6. ^ Associated Press (March 21, 2009). "Lions to retire Smith's No. 93 in '09". ESPN. Retrieved 2009-03-21. 
  7. ^ Baskin, Andy (August 18, 2011). "Baskin: Browns-Lions battle for 'Barge' trophy". WEWS-TV. Retrieved 2013-08-10. 
  8. ^ Schudel, Jeff (November 22, 2009). "Great Lakes Classic has lacked luster since its beginning". The Morning Journal. Retrieved 2009-03-21. 
  9. ^ Detroit Lions Official Site: Detroit Lions Radio Network Affiliates
  10. ^ Lions staying with WXYT as flagship station Detroit News October 9, 2009 Archived October 5, 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ "CBS Detroit: Lions censorship demands caused split". The Detroit News. Retrieved 20 November 2015. 
  12. ^ "Want to listen to the Lions in 2016? Tune in to WJR-AM". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved 20 November 2015. 
  13. ^ Kowalski, Tom (October 28, 2010). "Detroit Lions' game on Sunday will be blacked out locally". Retrieved October 29, 2010. 

External links