The Detroit Lions are indelibly linked to one of the game’s all-time greats and arguably the worst single season in the history of the game. There have been some flashes of brilliance in what has been a dim history for the team. Before looking ahead to the new Lions schedule, let’s take a look back at the history of the franchise.
Lions Schedule: Past and Present
The franchise broke into the NFL in 1930 as the Portsmouth Spartans. The team played its first four seasons as the Spartans, but financial problems during the Great Depression initiated the move to Detroit and the name change to the Lions in 1934. The moniker was chosen in homage to the Detroit Tigers.
In their first season in Detroit, the Lions began what became a tradition of playing on Thanksgiving Day. In their second season, the Lions defeated the New York Giants in the NFL Championship Game in 1935. Detroit would be absent from the playoffs until 1952 when the team won the first of two straight NFL titles. The Lions won the NFL championship again in 1957, marking the last time the team won it all.
Following the win in the title game, the Lions endured an extended period of futility. From 1958-91, the Lions appeared in the playoffs only three times and lost all three games. In 1989, the Lions drafted future Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders. Two years later, the Lions went 12-4, won the NFC Central and beat the Dallas Cowboys in the opening round of the playoffs.
Sanders rushed for 2,053 yards en route to winning Most Valuable Player honors in 1997. However, Sanders stunningly retired at the conclusion of the 1998 campaign.
In 2001, the Lions named Matt Millen their new president and CEO. The Lions went just 31-81 in the ensuing seven seasons. The misery was culminated by an 0-16 record in 2008.
Led by head coach Jim Schwartz, quarterback Matthew Stafford and wide receiver Calvin Johnson, the Lions went 10-6 and earned a Wild Card spot in 2011. However, the Lions suffered a 45-28 loss to the New Orleans Saints that season.
In 2012, Johnson broke Jerry Rice’s record for most receiving yards in a single season, but the team stumbled to 4-12 record.
Detroit enters the 2014 Lions schedule as one of four teams to never play in a Super Bowl. The others are the Cleveland Browns, Houston Texans and Jacksonville Jaguars.
Download: Lions Schedule