The Detroit Lions are an American football team based in Detroit, Michigan. They are members of the National Football League (NFL) as part of the National Football Conference (NFC) in the NFC North division. Founded in 1929, the Lions have played their home games at Ford Field in downtown Detroit since 2002.
Originally based in Portsmouth, Ohio and called the Portsmouth Spartans, the team began play in 1929 as an independent professional team. For the 1930 season, the Spartans joined the NFL as other area independents folded because of the Great Depression. Despite success within the NFL, they could not survive in Portsmouth, and moved to Detroit in 1934 to become the Lions.
In its 80-year existence, the Lions have won four NFL Championships, the last in 1957. Despite success in the 1950's, the Lions have struggled since, holding the second-longest NFL championship drought behind the Arizona Cardinals, who last won in 1947. The Lions are one of four current NFL teams that have yet to qualify for the Super Bowl. Additionally, the Lions hold the second longest regular season losing streak in NFL history; losing 19 straight games from 2007 through the 2009 season. The 2008 team became the only team in NFL history to lose all 16 regular-season games.
The Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions hold an 80-plus year rivalry against each other, dating back to November 2, 1930. After 164 regular-season and post-season games, Green Bay currently leads the all-time series, 93-65-7, as of the 2011 season. The Packers have defeated the Lions more than any other NFL team.
The Portsmouth Spartans formed in 1929, drawing players from defunct independent professional and semi-pro teams in the local Ohio-Kentucky-West Virginia tri-state area. They immediately made an impact by twice defeating the heralded Ironton Tanks, a nearby independent professional team who had regularly played National Football League (NFL) teams during the early 1920s with considerable success. The Spartans gained full NFL membership for the 1930 season, while other independent teams became casualties of the Great Depression.
Despite success on the field, poor revenues and the Great Depression threatened the Spartans' survival. In 1934, a group led by Detroit radio executive George Richards bought the Spartans and moved them to Detroit. Richards renamed the team the Detroit Lions, as a nod to baseball's Detroit Tigers. He also said that the lion was the monarch of the jungle, and he intended for his team to be the monarch of the NFL.
The Detroit Lions have won four NFL league championships; 1935, 1952, 1953, and 1957. With their last championship in 1957, the Lions hold the second-longest NFL championship drought behind the Arizona Cardinals (who last won in 1947 as the Chicago Cardinals). The Lions are one of four current NFL teams that have yet to qualify for the Super Bowl, the only one with an unbroken NFL existence dating to before 1995, and the only one in the NFC.
The Lions also haven't won a NFC division title since 1993, an 18-year drought and longest among NFC teams.