The Detroit Lions play in the NFL’s National Football Conference in the North Division. Originally, the Lions called Portsmouth, Ohio, home. They were founded as the Portsmouth Spartans in 1929 as an independent team. They played as the Spartans in the NFL from 1930-1933 and then moved to Detroit in 1934, becoming the Lions. George Richards, a Detroit radio executive, facilitated the move when he and a group he represented bought the club. Richards renamed the team the Lions, making a connection with baseball.s Detroit Tigers.
The Lions have won four NFL Championships (1935, 1952, 1953, 1957), four Conference Championships (1952 NFL National and 1953, 1954, 1957 NFL Western) and four Division crowns (1935 NFL West and 1983, 1991, 1993 NFC Central). They have never been to the Super Bowl.
Detroit has played in five different venues, starting with Universal Stadium (1930-1933). They then played at the University of Detroit Stadium (1934-1937) and then at Tiger Stadium (1938-1939). In 1940, they returned to the University of Detroit Stadium for one season and then went back to Tiger Stadium where they played until 1974. Tiger Stadium was renamed Briggs Stadium from 1938 to 1960. In 1975, the Lions moved indoors to the Pontiac Silverdome (1975-2001). They are now housed at Ford Field (2002-present).
The Lions have had 15 players elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, including quarterback Dutch Clark (1931-1932 Portsmouth Spartans and 1934-1938 Lions), defensive back Dick “Night Train” Lane (1952-1953 Los Angeles Rams, 1954-1959 Chicago Cardinals and 1960-1965 Lions), linebacker Joe Schmidt (1953-1965) and running back Barry Sanders (1989-1998).
Clark was a six-time All-Pro selection and was elected to the NFL 1930s All-Decade Team. He also served for the Lions as head coach from 1937-1938 and the Cleveland Rams from 1939-1942. Defensive back Lane grabbed 68 interceptions running five in for touchdowns. In 1999, The Sporting News designated him as the 19th best player in NFL history. Schmidt, who took down 24 interceptions and scored two touchdowns, also served as Detroit’s head coach from 1967-1972. He was a 10-time Pro Bowl and All-Pro selection and two-time NFL champion. Schmidt was selected to the NFL 1950s All-Decade Team. Sanders, who was a first-round draft pick by the Lions, rushed for 15,269-yards and 109 touchdowns, averaging 5.0 yards per carry.
The Lions’ fight song is “Gridiron Heroes” and their mascot is a lion named Roary. The team is owned by William Clay Ford, Sr. He bought the club in 1964. Matt Millen, former NFL linebacker for the Oakland Raiders, San Francisco 49ers and Washington Redskins, has been the Lions general manager since 2000. In 2006, the team hired Rod Marinelli, a former defensive line and assistant head coach with various teams, as their head coach.