Detroit Lions

Detroit Lions
Current season
Established July 12, 1930 (July 12, 1930)[1]
First season: 1930
Play in Ford Field
Detroit, Michigan
Headquartered in Allen Park, Michigan
League/conference affiliations

National Football League (1930present)

Current uniform
Team colors Honolulu blue, silver[2][3]
Fight song Gridiron Heroes
Mascot Roary the Lion
Theo "Gridiron" Spight
Owner(s) Martha Firestone Ford
Chairman Martha Firestone Ford
President Rod Wood
General manager Bob Quinn
Head coach Matt Patricia[4]
Team history

League championships (4)

Conference championships (4)

Division championships (4)

Playoff appearances (18)
Home fields

The Detroit Lions are a professional American football team based in Detroit, Michigan. The Lions compete in the National Football League (NFL) as a member club of the league's 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 smallest city. The team was purchased and relocated 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. They are also the only franchise to have been in operation for all 52 seasons of the Super Bowl era without having appeared in one (the Cleveland Browns were not in operation for the 1996 to 1998 seasons).[5]

Franchise history

Logos and uniforms

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.[6] The design consists of silver helmets, silver pants, and either blue or white jerseys.

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 in 1935.[7] Houston, the Lions' first vice president and general manager, said of the choice: "They had me looking at so many blues I am blue in the face", Houston said about the selection. "But anyway, it's the kind of blue, I am told, that will match with silver."

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. 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.

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.[8] 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.[9]

On February 1, 2017, the Lions announced a new typeface, logo, and the complete removal of the color black from the team identity. The team "made it a priority to emphasize our classic color combination of Honolulu blue and silver, which has been synonymous with the Detroit Lions since 1934."[3] The new logo is identical to the old, except with a silver border instead of a black one. The Lions then unveiled the club's new uniforms on April 13, 2017.[10] 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.[11]

Home attendance

Home Attendance at Ford Field
YearTotal 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

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 September 4, 2018
Depth chartTransactions
53 Active, 5 Inactive, 10 Practice squad

AFC rostersNFC rosters

Retired numbers

Detroit Lions retired numbers
No. Player Position Tenure
7Dutch ClarkQB1934–1938
20Barry SandersRB1989–1998
22Bobby LayneQB, K1950–1958
37Doak WalkerHB, K, P1950–1955
56Joe SchmidtLB1953–1965
85Chuck Hughes 1WR1970–1971


  • 1 Posthumous. 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 for and receiving permission from the Hughes family as he had worn that number throughout his professional career.
  • The #20 was retired specifically for Sanders, even though the retired number was also worn by RB Billy Sims and DB Lem Barney before him, 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.

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.[13] 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

Detroit Lions Hall of Famers
No. Name Positions Seasons Inducted No. Name Positions Seasons Inducted
20Lem BarneyDB1967–1977199222Bobby LayneQB1950–19581967
24Jack ChristiansenDB1951–1958197044Dick LeBeauDB1959–19722010
7Dutch ClarkQB
196330Ollie MatsonRB19631972
76Lou CreekmurG/T1950–1959199639Hugh McElhennyHB19641970
77Curley CulpDT1980–1981201320Barry SandersRB1989–19982004
35Bill DudleyHB1947–1949196688Charlie SandersTE1968–19772007
72Frank GatskiC1957198556Joe SchmidtLB
35John Henry JohnsonFB1957–1959198763Dick StanfelOG1952–19552016
81Dick "Night Train" LaneCB1960–1965197437Doak WalkerHB1950–19551986
28Yale LaryDB, P1952–1953
197950Alex WojciechowiczC, LB1938–19461968

Michigan Sports Hall of Fame


Current staff

Detroit Lions staff
Front office
  • Owner/chairwoman – Martha Firestone Ford
  • Vice chairman – William Clay Ford Jr.
  • President – Rod Wood
  • Special advisor to the president – Ernie Accorsi
  • COO – Allison Maki
  • Executive vice president/general manager – Bob Quinn
  • Vice president of football administration – Matt Harriss
  • Vice president of player personnel – Kyle O'Brien
  • Director of player personnel – Lance Newmark
  • Director of pro scouting – Brendan Prophett
  • Assistant director of college scouting – Dave Sears
  • Assistant director of pro scouting – Rob Lohman
Head coaches
Offensive coaches
  • Offensive coordinator – Jim Bob Cooter
  • Quarterbacks – George Godsey
  • Running backs – David Walker
  • Wide receivers – Robert Prince
  • Tight ends – Chris White
  • Offensive line – Jeff Davidson
  • Assistant offensive line – Hank Fraley
  • Offensive assistant/quality control – Brian Picucci
  • Offensive assistant – Derius Swinton
Defensive coaches
Special teams coaches
  • Special teams coordinator – Joe Marciano
  • Special teams assistant – Devin Fitzsimmons
Strength and conditioning
  • Head strength and conditioning – Harold Nash
  • Assistant strength and conditioning – Josh Schuler
Coaching administration
  • Chief of staff/head coach administration – Kevin Anderson
  • Director of football research – David Corrao
  • Head coach assistant/research & analysis – Evan Rothstein
  • Director of coaching operations – Gina Newell

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.[14] The two teams have been playing for The Barge Trophy since 2002.[15] 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.

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: 2002present

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

Radio and television


The Lions' flagship radio station is WJR 760 AM. Dan Miller does play-by-play, Jim Brandstatter does color commentary, and Tony Ortiz provides sideline reports.[16]

The team moved to WJR for the 2016 NFL season, ending a 20-year relationship with CBS Radio-owned WXYT-FM. 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 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.[17][18]



In 2015, WJBK took over from WXYZ-TV as the flagship station for 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 (odd-numbered years) or CBS(even-numbered years). The Detroit Lions were the last NFC team to play on NBC's Sunday Night Football since the network got the rights to air NFL games 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, yet another Washington Redskins game, which the Lions won 37–25.[19] However, since 2015, the NFL suspended its blackout policies, meaning that all Lions games will be shown on local TV, regardless of tickets sold.[20]

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.

See also

Notes and references

  1. 1 2 "Detroit Lions Team Facts". Pro Football Hall of Fame. Retrieved October 2, 2017.
  2. "Detroit Lions Team Capsule" (PDF). 2018 Official National Football League Record and Fact Book. NFL Enterprises, LLC. August 9, 2018. Retrieved August 14, 2018.
  3. 1 2 "Detroit Lions statement regarding rebranding". Detroit Lions. February 1, 2017. Retrieved August 14, 2018.
  4. Lewis, Edward (February 5, 2018). "Patriots DC Matt Patricia named head coach of Lions". NFL Enterprises, LLC. Retrieved February 6, 2018.
  5. "21 Football Facts to Fake Your Super Bowl Street Cred".
  6. Griffith 2012, p. 144.
  7. Griffith 2012, p. 139.
  8. Kowalski, Tom (February 9, 2009). "Tom Lewand: Lions' black uniforms discarded". The Grand Rapids Press. Retrieved April 25, 2016.
  9. "Lions Unveil New Comprehensive Brand; Team modifies team logo and uniforms and introduces new brand". Detroit Lions. April 20, 2009. Retrieved April 25, 2016.
  10. "Lions unveil new uniforms" (Press release). Detroit Lions. April 13, 2017. Retrieved August 14, 2018.
  12. "2017 NFL Football Attendance - National Football League - ESPN".
  13. "Lions to retire Smith's No. 93 in '09". ESPN. Associated Press. March 21, 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-21.
  14. Baskin, Andy (August 18, 2011). "Baskin: Browns-Lions battle for 'Barge' trophy". WEWS-TV. Retrieved 2013-08-10.
  15. Schudel, Jeff (November 22, 2009). "Great Lakes Classic has lacked luster since its beginning". The Morning Journal. Retrieved 2009-03-21.
  16. "Detroit Lions - Radio Affiliates".
  17. "CBS Detroit: Lions censorship demands caused split". The Detroit News. Retrieved 20 November 2015.
  18. "Want to listen to the Lions in 2016? Tune in to WJR-AM". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved 20 November 2015.
  19. Kowalski, Tom (October 28, 2010). "Detroit Lions' game on Sunday will be blacked out locally". The Grand Rapids Press. Retrieved October 29, 2010.


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