The Detroit Lions debuted in 1928 as the Portsmouth Spartans, as was the norm in regarding the NFL and “small town” teams. The Spartans, then an independent team, joined the NFL in 1930 and took part in the league’s first playoff game in a 9-0 loss to the Chicago Bears.
The Spartans played one more game in 1933 before moving to Detroit in 1934 due to revenue struggles small town teams were starting to face as Portsmouth was the second smallest market in the NFL at the time, next to Green Bay, Wisconsin. However, while Green Bay has since grown into a budding metropolis, Portsmouth’s residency remains roughly 20,000, down from 42,000 at the time of the Spartans’ day.
The Lions took the NFL by storm, winning the NFL Championship in 1935 over the New York Giants.
While the Lions wouldn’t see another NFL Title until 1952, they became one the teams of the decade, winning another NFL Title in 1953 and 1957, all against the Cleveland Browns. The Lions would also lose to the Browns in the 1954 NFL Championship, which budded a small rivalry between the two clubs in the 1950s with both winning three championships in that era. Ironically, the Lions and Browns are the only two pre-1970 AFL-NFL merger teams to have never played in the Super Bowl.
The Lions’ last NFL Championship came in 1957, and since then they’ve had arguably the worst stretch of any team in NFL history.
Since 1957, the Lions have won only two Division Championship, both as members of the NFC Central in 1991 and 1993. They have never been to a Super Bowl, have made just one NFC Championship appearance, and are currently 1-12 in the playoffs, having last won a playoff game in 1991.
They were also the first NFL team to complete an 0-16 season in 2008. Ironically, only the Cleveland Browns have “accomplished” the same infamous task, running the table in reverse in 2017. The Lions finished with an overall record of 2-30 between 2008 and 2009. This record stood as the worst stretch in NFL history until the Browns “topped” it in 2017, finishing the 2016 and 2017 seasons with a combined record of 1-31.
Detroit Lions Quick Hits
Ford Field, Detroit, Michigan
Honolulu blue, silver
Roary the Lion
Bobby Layne, Barry Sanders, Calvin Johnson
Won their first playoff game in Super Era in 38-6 route over the Dallas Cowboys in 1991.
Played in the first-ever NFL playoff game in 1932.
Main Article: The Detroit Lions Helmet History
Main Article: History of the Detroit Lions Jersey