Detroit Lions Uniform History

The Detroit Lions Uniform history begins in Portsmouth, Ohio, as the team played its first few seasons as the Portsmouth Spartans, wearing a purple and gold combination. Like many teams founded before the modern era of football, however, I’m going to begin this article in 1960, when TV numbers, dark and light colored jerseys, plastic-shelled helmets, and helmet logos became a thing due to the availability of real photographs depicting these uniforms in action.

So, let’s begin with the 1960 Lions and work our way to 2019.

1960

The Lion’s look was a plain one, consisting of plain, silver helmet shells, blue jerseys with silver numbering and silver TV numbers at the sleeves, silver pants, blue socks, and black shoes. The road look consisted of a white jersey, blue numbering, and blue Northwestern sleeve stripes.

1961

The leaping lion helmet logo is added, along with two blue helmet stripes. Northwestern stripes are added to the sleeves on the home jerseys, blue trim to the pants, and silver Northwestern striping to the socks.

1967

Shade of blue on the jerseys are lightened to the familiar Honolulu blue.

1968

Helmet logo is also lightened to match the jerseys. White striping added between the blue trim on the helmet stripes and pants trim.

1971

Black memorial armbands worn for receiver Chuck Hughes.

1972

Silver numbering introduced on blue jerseys featuring white outlines. Top and bottom Northwestern stripes are now silver on the road uniform. Numbers now outlined in silver.

1973

Northwestern stripes return to their familiar all-blue look on the road uniform.

1974

Black armbands worn to commemorate coach Donald McCafferty.

1975

White shoes introduced.

1980

Darkened shade of silver for the numbering on the blue jersey. Also, changes in the sock striping.

1982

Numbering on the home jersey switches to white.

1983

50th-anniversary patches.

1984

Striping on both jerseys migrates to the base. Facemasks on helmets now switch to blue.

1989

Lions introduce solid blue socks for the first time.

1991

J. Russ Thomas memorial chest patch.

1993

60th-anniversary chest patch.

1994

1950s throwbacks for select weekends.

1998

The team experimented with blue pants featuring silver-white-silver striping and silver socks. This is the only season the pants were used until 2017 when the blue pants, silver socks combo made a return.

1999

TV numbers migrate to the shoulders, allowing the Northwestern stripes to return to the sleeves in full.

2001

Throwbacks return as a third uniform.

2002

First game at Ford Field chest patch.

2003

Black introduced into the uniform for the first time, outlining the numbers on the home and road jerseys, the helmet logo, and also the pants, Northwestern sleeves, and facemask. Team returns to wearing black shoes.

2005

Black alternate jerseys featuring blue numbers white outlines, and blue Northwestern sleeves outlined in white introduced. Black socks were also worn with this look.

2008

75th-anniversary chest patch.

2009

Leaping lion logo updated to show a fiercer, more detailed look. New numbering fonts. Helmet striping updated to a black-white-blue-white-black combo, the same as the new pants striping. Black-white-black collar pattern.

2014

William Clay Ford memorial chest patches worn from 2014 to 2016.

2017

Major uniform overhaul. Team ditches black for good, opting for a blue-silver-blue-silver-blue Northwestern striping helmet stripe with the same logo worn since 2009. Facemasks were now silver as well.

Blue jerseys now bore silver numbering with gray outlining. Silver Northwestern stripes featuring a WCF memorial in blue graced one side while the other stated the wordmark ‘LIONS.’ Silver pants boasted the same blue Northwestern striping as the helmet stripe. Socks were blue and shoes were white.

The white jersey comprised of blue numbering, silver outlines, blue Northwestern striping along with the LIONS wordmark and WCF memorial.

A third, color rush jersey was silver with white numbering and blue outlines accompanied with unmarked silver pants and socks.

Blue pants also appeared featuring silver Northwestern striping running down the sides.

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