History of the Detroit Lions
As much as Michiganders hate to admit it, they owe the creation of the Detroit Lions to their hated neighbors to the south, Ohio.
The Lions began as the Portsmouth (OH) Spartans, who went from being an independent team in the 1920s to an NFL team in 1930. They actually won 11 games in 1931 and were one of the better teams in the league.
But in the 1930s winning football didn’t necessarily translate to profitable football, and the team had to be sold. The new boss was the owner of WJR radio in Detroit, where he decided to move the team in 1934. He also changed the team name to the Lions because it paired well with the Detroit Tigers of Major League Baseball.
Detroit Lions was Formed
In 1934 the Lions were born, and so was the tradition of Thanksgiving football in Detroit. The Tigers had just been in the World Series, Michigan football was hugely popular, and the Lions needed something of their own to drum up support. And from that day forward Thanksgiving was forever paired with NFL football.
The team was good in the early going, winning the NFL Championship in 1935. They were dominant again in the 1950s, playing in four NFL Championship Games and winning three of them. But that is when the good times came to an end.
In the Super Bowl era the Lions have managed just a single playoff win, and they are one of just four teams to never play in a Super Bowl.
There are a number of Hall of Famers who have suited up for the Lions over the years. Dick “Night Train” Lane was a seven-time First-team All-Pro cornerback. Linebacker Joe Schmidt played in 10 Pro Bowls, tying him for most in franchise history with the great Barry Sanders. Sanders finished his career with 15,269 rushing yards.
Wide receiver Calvin Johnson is also in the Hall of Fame, and he retired with 11,619 yards in just nine seasons.
NFL Big Changes from Last Season – Detroit Lions
The Lions offense will be somewhat limited because of the ceiling of quarterback Jared Goff, but the team has made the effort to give him as many weapons as possible.
Joining the wide receiver room via free agency is former Jaguar D.J. Chark. He missed most of last season because of a fractured ankle, but in 2019 he broke 1,000 yards receiving, so he can be a valuable weapon when on the field.
Perhaps the addition with the biggest potential is the second of two first round draft picks, Jameson Williams from Alabama. He is also coming off a serious injury and expected to miss the early part of the season. But when he is healthy he is going to be an electric addition to the team.
Pairing those two new wide receivers with second-year receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown, who caught 90 passes as a rookie, and tight end T.J. Hockenson, who caught 61 passes in just 12 games last season, gives this offense a lot of potential pop.
Detroit Lions Biggest Addition
The biggest addition on defense is the first of their two first round draft picks, EDGE rusher Aidan Hutchinson. He’s big and fast, and he played his college football just an hour away in Ann Arbor.
Former first round pick Jeff Okudah is finally healthy after missing most of his first two seasons in the NFL, and his regular addition to the lineup will instantly make the cornerback group better. Detroit also added Mike Hughes to the cornerback group this offseason, and Chris Board is a new linebacker, coming from Baltimore. He is expected to start on the Lions defense and replace the departed Jalen Reeves-Maybin.
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