Encyclopedia Of Detroit

Detroit Lions

The Detroit Lions professional football team formed in 1929 as the Portsmouth Spartans of Portsmouth, Ohio. The team moved to Detroit in 1934 and were rebranded as the Detroit Lions. The Lions are members of the National Football Conference’s North Division, which includes the Minnesota Vikings, Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears. The team colors have been Honolulu Blue and Silver since their move to Detroit. They originally played at the University of Detroit Stadium, and have throughout the years played at Tiger Stadium, the Pontiac Silverdome, and Ford Field, their current home which opened in downtown Detroit in 2002. An annual tradition, the Lions have played on Thanksgiving Day since 1934, due to the influence of the team’s first owner George Richards, who also owned the WJR radio station.

The Lions have won four National Football League championships. They secured victory against the New York Giants in 1935, and defeated the Cleveland Browns in 1952, 1953, and 1957. The team has struggled since its last championship, only winning one playoff game since then, which occurred in 1991.

The Lions have had several all-star players throughout its history, including Bobby Layne, star quarterback who led Detroit to three of its four National Football Championships. Earl “Dutch” Clark, the team’s first quarterback, led them to the National Championship in 1935. Doak Walker set many records as a running back and kicker from 1950-1955. Barry Sanders, who played between 1989 and 1998, set many rushing records for the team and the League. During Calvin Johnson’s professional career from 2007 to 2015, he set the record from receiving yards in a single season.



1971 Detroit Lions fact book

1983 50th Year Detroit Lions media guide

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