Detroit Lions

Facts and information about the Detroit Lions

  • Matthew Stafford’s first postseason touchdown pass was caught by Will Heller on January 7, 2012 in a loss to the Saints.
  • The great Running Back Barry Sanders played in only one winning playoff game for the Lions.
  • Former Lion standout Alex Karras was suspended from the league for ties to gambling and then later played a sitcom father on the TV show Webster.


  • In Ty Detmer’s first start with Detroit, he threw seven interceptions.
  • The first NFL quarterback Lions defensive lineman Ezekiel Ansah would sack was Christian Ponder of the Vikings.
  • The first touchdown scored at Detroit’s Ford Field was scored by speedy wide receiver Az-Zahir Hakim on a reverse handoff from another wide receiver, Eddie Drummond, during a punt return against the Green Bay Packers that went for 72 yards and a touchdown.
  • The first time Lions running back Ameer Abdullah touched the ball in an NFL game was on the fourth play of his very first NFL game in 2015 when he caught a pass from Matthew Stafford for no gain.  Four plays later he ran the ball for the first time in his career and went for 24 yards up the middle for a touchdown.
  • Two all-time great Detroit Lions, Doak Walker and Bobby Layne, were also teammates on the same high school football team in Dallas, Texas.

  • Running back Doak Walker’s career only lasted from 1950 to 1955, he led the league in scoring in two seasons… his first and last.

  • In 1970, soul singer Marvin Gaye tried out for the Detroit Lions. Some Lions players sang backup on his hit song “What’s Going On?”

  • In the early 1990’s the Lions had two consecutive Heisman Trophy winners on their roster at the same time. Running back Barry Sanders won the award in 1989 and Andre Ware won it in 1990. Years later the 1991 Heisman Trophy winner, Ty Detmer, would join the Lions.


  • Lions running back Joique Bell’s first career touchdown came on a one yard run in a 2012 win over the Rams.  This was his one and only rushing attempt in the game and his first carry since joining Detroit.
  • The Detroit Lions mascot is a Lion named Roary.
  • The first player to catch more than one TD pass from Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford was Bryant Johnson.  He caught the first in the third game of the 2009 season in a win over the Redskins and the second in a Week 8 loss to the Seahawks.
  • The Detroit Lions fight song is titled “Gridiron Heroes”.
  • Originally started in 1929 as the Portsmouth Spartans, they joined the NFL in 1930 and in 1933 became the Detroit Lions.
  • In what has become known as the “Iron Man Game”, Portsmouth Spartan Head Coach Potsy Clark refused to substitute for any of his players in a 1932 game versus the rival Green Bay Packers. Portsmouth, which would become the Detroit Lions in the following season, won the game 19-0 and used only 11 players total including offense, defense, and special teams.
  • Still playing as the Spartans, in 1932 the team lost to the Chicago Bears in an unofficial football championship game. The game was scheduled for Wrigley Field but due to extremely bad weather was moved indoors inside Chicago Stadium becoming the first indoor professional football game.
  • From 2009 to 2011, Lions receiver Brandon Pettigrew wore jersey number 84.  He switched to number 87 at the start of the 2012 season, making room for incoming rookie Ryan Broyles to takeover wearing number 84.
  • The Detroit Lions hosted their first ever Thanksgiving Day game in 1934.
  • The Detroit Lions won the NFL Championship in 1935, 1952, 1953, and 1957.
  • All three of the Detroit Lions 1950s NFL Championship teams were quarterbacked by Bobby Layne.


  • In 1961, the Lions won the first-ever Playoff Bowl, playing against the Cleveland Browns. The Playoff Bowl matched up the second place teams in each conference, while the first place teams played a week later in the Championship Game. The Playoff Bowl was discontinued after the 1970 AFL-NFL merger.
  • The book Paper Lion, later a movie, was written by Sports Journalist George Plimpton about his time in Lions training camp masquerading as a player.
  • Over the course of his first five NFL seasons, Lions receiver Calvin Johnson rushed the ball 19 times for 167 yards and a touchdown, an average of 8.8 yards per carry.  He wouldn’t run the ball even one time over the next three seasons.
  • At one time, soul singer Marvin Gaye tried out for the Detroit Lions but did not make the team. His friendship with Lions players Mel Farr and Lem Barney did lead to them singing backup on his hit 1971 song “What’s Going On?”
  • In 1974, after over 35 years, the Lions played their final game in Tiger Stadium.
  • In the playoffs following the 1991 season, the Lions got their first postseason victory since 1957 with a 38-6 victory over the Dallas Cowboys in the Pontiac Silverdome.
  • The Lions were the first (and so far only) team to go three consecutive seasons without a victory on the road (2001, 2002, and 2003).
  • The team colors have been the same for the Lions since their inception, except for the 1948 season when they switched to maroon jerseys. A change made by the Head Coach at the time (Bo McMillin) who had coached at Indiana University.
  • The blue in the Lions team colors is officially known as Honolulu Blue.
  • The Lions and the Browns met for the NFL Championship in three consecutive years; 1952 (won by Lions), 1953 (won by Lions), and 1954 (won by Browns).
  • The first Detroit Lion elected to the Hall-of-Fame was Quarterback Dutch Clark.
  • The Detroit Lions have retired the number 20 jersey to honor former Running Back Barry Sanders. Number 20 was also worn by all-time great Lions Lem Barney (Hall-of-Fame) and Billy Sims.
  • The first player to sack longtime Lions backup Dan Orlovsky in the NFL was Roderick Coleman in a 2005 Detroit loss to the Falcons.  Orlovsky fumbled the ball on the play with 21 seconds left in the game.
  • The Lions retired the number 56 jersey to honor former player Joe Schmidt, when Pat Swilling joined the team it was un-retired with the approval of Schmidt so Swilling could wear it. It has since never been used again.
  • Wide Receiver Chuck Hughes died of a heart attack during a game in 1971, his number 85 was subsequently retired.
  • During Calvin Johnson’s first two seasons in the NFL, he caught touchdown passes from four different quarterbacks:  Jon Kitna, J.T. O’Sullivan, Dan Orlovsky, and Daunte Culpepper.
  • The Lions have had three Head Coaches with the last name of Clark; George “Potsy” Clark (1931-1936, 1940), Earl “Dutch” Clark (1937-1938), and Monte Clark (1978-1984).

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