The legacy of the Detroit Lions

Love them or hate them, the Detroit Lions are the only professional soccer franchise in town. The team currently resides in a luxury sedan or limousine at Ford Field, located in downtown Detroit. Here are some historical highlights of the team:

The Lions weren’t Detroit’s first professional football team. In 1920, the Detroit Heralds were founding members of the American Professional Soccer Association, but the franchise was closed after two years. Then the Detroit Panthers were formed in 1925, but that team also retired after two seasons. In 1928, the Detroit Wolverines were formed, but they failed after just one year. Finally, Detroit welcomed the Lions in 1934. The team originated in Ohio and was purchased for $ 7,952.08 by a group led by Detroit radio executive George A. Richards and later moved to Motown.

The Lions played at the University of Detroit Stadium before an average audience of 16,000. The new Detroit Lions won the NFL Championship in just their sophomore year in 1935. Under coach “Potsy” Clark and stars such as Hall of Famer “Dutch” Clark, Ernie Caddel, George Christensen, “Ace” Gutowsky ,

Glenn Presnell and “Ox” Emerson, the first Lions established professional soccer in Detroit.

In 1940, Fred Mandel of Chicago bought the club. The equipment was sold eight years later to a group of local entrepreneurs under the leadership of Edwin J. Anderson. The Detroit union controlled the club until 1964, when William Clay Ford became sole owner for a price of $ 4.5 million …

The Lions dominated in the 1950s with four division titles and three league championships. Under head coach Buddy Parker, the team won consecutive world crowns in 1952-53, defeating Cleveland both times. The Detroit-Cleveland battles of the time were classic confrontations between two giants of the burgeoning NFL.

In 1967, Schmidt began the first of six seasons as the Lions head coach. His 1970 team made the playoffs (first postseason trip since ’57) but lost in the first round to Dallas by a baseball-like score of 5-0.

During the 1974 season, the Lions moved to a new domed stadium, the Silverdome, in Pontiac, Michigan, a suburb 30 miles north of Detroit. It remains the largest air-supported domed structure in the world, accommodating more than 80,000 spectators under a fiberglass roof.

Monte Clark took control of all soccer operations as head coach in 1978. Under Clark’s leadership, the Lions narrowly missed playoff spots in 1980-81, before qualifying in 1982, the first appearance of the Lions in the playoffs since 1970.

Darryl Rogers replaced Clark in 1985, but was replaced on an interim basis by his defensive coordinator, Wayne Fontes, in November 1988, after Rogers’ teams posted a combined 18-40 record. Fontes was officially named the 17th head coach of the Detroit Lions on December 22, 1988.

The Lions “Restored the Roar” in 1991, winning a franchise record of 12 regular season games. Riding on a tide of excitement after guard Mike Utley’s crippling neck injury, Detroit defeated Dallas, 38-6, in the Lions’ Silverdome playoff opener. The victory gave the Lions a place in the NFC Championship Game, where they defeated Super Bowl Champion Washington Redskins.

The Lions finished 10-6 in 1993 en route to capturing the NFC Central Division title, and earned a wild card for the playoffs in 1994. The 1995 Lions featured the highest-rated offense in the NFL and won their last seven games. to win a third game in a row. playoff bunk.

In 1996, running back Barry Sanders captured his third NFL running title with a dramatic 175-yard rush on the final Monday night of the season in San Francisco.

Bobby Ross was named the 18th head coach in team history on January 13, 1997, and led the club back to the playoffs in his inaugural year at the helm with a 9-7 record. That season, Sanders continued his storybook career by becoming the third player in league history to record 2,000 rushing yards in a single season (2,053) and set an NFL record with 14 consecutive 100-yard starts. to end the season.

After nine games in the 2002 season and compiling a 5-4 record, Bobby Ross abruptly resigned as head coach on November 6 and was immediately replaced by Gary Moeller. Moeller led the team to a 4-3 record in the past seven games, but narrowly missed the playoffs with a loss to the Chicago Bears in the season finale. After the season, William Clay Ford appointed Matt Millen president and CEO and assumed control of the team’s operations. On January 25, 2001, Gary Moeller was replaced as head coach by former San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg.

In 2002, Detroit opened Ford Field, the $ 500 million downtown stadium. After the worst two consecutive seasons in Lions history, team management fired Marty Mornhinweg, who posted a 5-27 record in both years. The Lions then hired former San Francisco 49ers head coach and Michigan native Steve Mariucci as their 22nd head coach.

During his third season in Detroit, Mariucci and his Lions held a 4-7 record after their Thanksgiving loss to Atlanta. Millen then released Mariucci and appointed defensive coordinator Dick Jauron as interim head coach. Detroit ended the season 5-11 and former Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive line / assistant head coach Rod Marinelli was named the 24th Lions coach in franchise history on January 19, 2006.