Go inside the Lion’s Den with the 2020 Detroit Lions

Season Finale by Mark Swanson

Season Finale by Mark Swanson

Pride of Detroit writes that one of the best video series the Detroit Lions have been producing over the past few years is their “Inside the Den” documentary (video below):

In year’s past, the video series has done their best to mimic popular HBO series “Hard Knocks” to give fans a behind-the-scenes look at training camp and the personal lives of certain Lions players. Despite all of the disruptions this offseason from COVID-19, the series is continuing this year, and on Thursday night, Episode 1 of the series dropped.

This year, the series may be more interesting than in previous seasons, seeing as media coverage of the team is severely limited right now. Episode 1 focuses heavily on the team’s preparations for the COVID-19 virus, the players arriving at the team facility for the first time this offseason, media day, head coach Matt Patricia making his appearance on “Good Morning Football,” and, of course, the Lions finally taking the field for conditioning drills and practice.

It’s really a pretty enlightening episode. From watching all of the preparation the team is doing to keep the facility safe—including spraying down pads between reps for players—to seeing signs just about everywhere in the facility indicating which personnel are allowed where.

Mark took this photo at Ford Field at the final game of the 2019 season. See more in his awesome Detroit photo album.

Here’s the video:

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What the heck is Honolulu Blue?

Detroit Lions by Healthier Michigan

Detroit Lions by A Healthier Michigan

Yesterday as it often does, my curiosity got the better of me and I had to find the answer as to why the Detroit Lions official blue is called “Honolulu Blue”. Fortunately,  The Evolution of the Detroit Lions’ Uniform by Bill Dow has the answer:

When WJR owner G.A. Richards purchased the Portsmouth (Ohio) Spartans in 1934 and moved the team to Detroit, the newly renamed Lions unveiled a striking uniform consisting of a blue jersey, silver pants, blue socks, and a silver helmet.

According to a 1950 Lion media guide, “the blue, a distinctive shade was especially developed for G.A. Richards.” According to team lore, their first owner came up with the color after admiring the hue of the Pacific Ocean on a trip to Hawaii and the shade was named “Honolulu blue.”

In 1999, Glenn Presnell, the then lone surviving member of the first Lion’s team and the league’ oldest alumnus, described his role in selecting the first uniform in an interview with me.

“When we met with Mr. Richards, my wife and I also helped select the Lions’ colors, “ Presnell said. “He had asked us to look at the different jerseys in the next room. There were all different colors, orange and black, red and white, you name it. We saw that Honolulu blue and silver and said we liked it best. So Richards chose that.”

You can read on for more including the Lions brief & doomed flirtation with Hoosier colors.

See more in A Healthier Michigan’s Lions Thanksgiving Day 2014 album!

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Time to Roar: Detroit Lions return to the playoffs

Sorry. This was supposed to post this morning but somehow didn’t. Can we count this as the Lions’ big disappointment and win tonight??

matthew-stafford

Matthew Stafford, photo by Brook Ward

The Detroit Lions take the field at 8:15 PM tonight vs the Seattle Seahawks, who are 8 point favorites. This is the Lions’ first playoff appearance since January of 2015 when they were totally jobbed by the officiating crew. While I’m tempted to invite speculation on just how they will “Lions” this one, I am enough of a fan to leave it at “Go Lions!”

View Brook’s photo background big, see more in his Sports From My Perspective slideshow, and view & purchase photos on his website.

The Detroit Lions: America’s (Thanksgiving Day) Team

detroit-lions-vs-bears-thanksgiving-1934

Detroit Lions First Thanksgiving Game, photographer unknown

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I am very thankful to have so many people who are passionate about Michigan giving me the drive to continue exploring the Great Lakes State through Michigan in Pictures.

I am also thankful that the Detroit Lions are in first place in the NFC North as they head into today’s 12:30 PM game at Ford Field vs the Minnesota Vikings. The Detroit Lions tell the story of the Origin of the Lions’ Thanksgiving Day Game:

The game was the brainchild of G.A. Richards, the first owner of the Detroit Lions. Richards had purchased the team in 1934 and moved the club from Portsmouth, Ohio to the Motor City. The Lions were the new kids in town and had taken a backseat to the baseball Tigers. Despite the fact the Lions had lost only one game prior to Thanksgiving in 1934, the season’s largest crowd had been just 15,000.

The opponent that day in 1934 was the undefeated, defending World Champion Chicago Bears of George Halas. The game would determine the champion of the Western Division. Richards had convinced the NBC Radio Network to carry the game coast-to-coast (94 stations) and, additionally, an estimated 26,000 fans jammed into the University of Detroit Stadium while thousands more disappointed fans were turned away.

Despite two Ace Gutowsky touchdowns, the Bears won the inaugural game, 19-16, but a classic was born.

Read on for more and definitely check out this MMQB article on Turkey Day in Detroit featuring Detroit sportswriter Mike O’Hara and some more great old photos.

Go Lions!!

The Curse of Bobby Layne

Bobby Layne Detroit Lions

Well, football season is almost here and Detroit Lions’ fans are probably feeling optimistic, so it’s probably time to explain The Curse of Bobby Layne:

In 1958, after leading the Lions to 3 NFL Championships and providing Detroit nearly decade of Hall of Fame play, the Lions traded Bobby Layne. Bobby was injured during the last championship season and the Lions thought he was through and wanted to get what they could for him. According to Legend, as he was leaving for Pittsburgh Bobby said that Detroit “would not win for 50 years”. In the pages that follow we present evidence that supports and confirms the existence of this curse which has been plaguing this team for nearly half a century.

Read on for more. You can also watch an ESPN feature on the origin of the Curse of Bobby Layne and check out Bobby Layne in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

View the photo background bigtacular.

More Detroit Lions on Michigan in Pictures.

Farewell Megatron? Detroit Lion Great Calvin Johnson to Retire. Maybe.

Megatron Calvin Johnson by Chris Arace

Megatron. Calvin Johnson., photo by Chris Arace

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that the Detroit Lions all-time greatest receiver Calvin Johnson is apparently headed for retirement. He reportedly told his family and close friends the 2015-16 season would be the last, and told gave coach Jim Caldwell the same message the day after the season ended.  If he does follow through, he will join Barry Sanders in retiring at 30 and in having a Hall of Fame career while never making it to a Super Bowl.

Should we put an asterisk on that retirement for now? The NFL has released this awesome highlight video with the somewhat cryptic title of “Top 10 Calvin Johnson Career Highlights…So Far” – do they know something we don’t?

Back in October of 2011, Chris Arace had the opportunity to work Monday Night football for the Lions, who won 24-13 to move to 5-0. View his photo bigger, see more of his work on his website, and definitely follow him on Instagram at instagram.com/thereason.

More Detroit Lions on Michigan in Pictures!

Twenty … and Twenty One

Barry Sanders 20 by Detroit Derek Photography

Twenty, photo by DetroitDerek Photography

Today is my little brother Shep’s birthday. He loves sports, the Detroit Lions and most definitely #20 Barry Sanders.

While Lions rookie #21 Ameer Abdullah has a long, long way to go to get into Barry Sanders territory, he made some runs that certainly remind you of someone. Check out this highlight reel from Ameer’s first pre-season game.

Derek took this photo of the statue of Barry Sanders outside the Detroit Athletic Club. View it bigger and see more in his massive Detroit slideshow.

More sports, more Detroit Lions and more Barry Sanders on Michigan in Pictures!

 

#TBT Offseason at the Pontiac Silverdome

Pontiac Silverdome

Pontiac Silverdome, photo by Mathew Davey

With the departure of some key players including Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley and Reggie Bush and addition of new faces including Ravens stalwart Haloti Ngata, the Lions have had a fairly eventful offseason. One place that not much is happening is the Lions’ former home, the massive and now domeless Pontiac Silverdome.

Stadiums of Pro Football’s page on the Pontiac Silverdome says that this modern-day ruin was designed by O’Dell/Hewlett & Luckenbach and built at a cost of $55 million:

Home of the Detroit Lions for more than 25 years, the Silverdome was one of the largest stadiums in the NFL. Prior to moving into the Silverdome, the Detroit Lions had played at Tiger Stadium since 1938, that was also the home of the Detroit Tigers (MLB). Tiger Stadium was primarily a baseball stadium, but served as the home to the Lions for more than 30 years. In the late 1960s, the team wanted a new football only stadium. After several bonds were passed allowing the team to build a stadium, the Lions bought land in nearby Pontiac, MI. Because of the area’s cold winter weather, the team decided to build a domed stadium. Construction on the stadium, named the Pontiac Silverdome, began on September 19, 1973 and was completed in 23 months.

Opening day for the Lions at the Silverdome was on October 6, 1975. The Silverdome became the largest stadium in the NFL with a capacity of 80,311. Three tiers of blue seats circled the entire Astroturf playing field. The roof at the Silverdome consisted of Teflon-coated fiberglass panels. In 1985 after a heavy snowstorm the roof was structurally damaged. However over the next several months a new canvas and steel-girder reinforced roof was added to prevent the problem from occurring again. The Silverdome had several amenities that included 93 executive suites and a club restaurant. Other than hosting football games, the Silverdome hosted many other events including tractor pulls, soccer and basketball games, and concerts. The first Super Bowl played in a northern city, Super Bowl XVI between the Cincinnati Bengals and San Francisco 49ers, was played at the Silverdome. In the mid 1990s, the Lions became dissatisfied with the Silverdome. By 1997, bonds were passed allowing construction of a new domed stadium in downtown Detroit. The Lions played their final game at the Silverdome on January 6, 2002. The team moved into Ford Field in August 2002.

The Oakland Press has 89 historical photos of the Silverdome including a couple with Barry Sanders. If you want to go get all depressed instead, head over to Curbed Detroit for the saga of the godawful mess the Silverdome has become.

Matthew took this photo in December of 2014. Click to view it big as the Silverdome!

More Detroit Lions on Michigan in Pictures.

Rotten Apples: 2014 Detroit Lions Playoff Edition

The Rotten Apples

The Rotten Apples, photo by Joel Dinda

If you’re a Detroit Lions fan, you’re probably more than a bit dazed by yesterday’s game which had the Lions on the verge of winning their first playoff game in 23 years. Mitch Albom has a column that details the stunning turn of events as the door closed on the Lions’ playoff dreams:

In the end, however, the play everyone was and will be talking about was that pass interference call that suddenly wasn’t. It was third-and-1 with less than nine minutes to go in the game, the Lions at the Dallas 46, clinging to a 20-17 lead. Stafford threw to a 17-yard pass to Brandon Pettigrew (that in itself is a questionable move on third-and-1, isn’t it?) but linebacker Anthony Hitchens made contact and the two went down as the ball bounced away.

A flag was thrown, the crowd groaned, pass interference was called — not just signaled, called, announced, I heard it, I swear! — the ball was spotted and the Lions would have a fresh set of downs and at least makeable field-goal position.

Even the TV announcers on Fox were confirming the pass interference. And then, incredibly, the refs picked the flag up.

You know the rest – shanked punt, Lions’ penalties, Cowboys score, Stafford fumble, season over. My dad always used to say that if the refs beat you with a bad call, you probably beat yourself somewhere along the line by putting yourself in that position, something the Lions did time and again.

Ultimately, I think that Detroit got a lot of breaks through the season and showed that while they have a promising foundation, particularly on defense, they’re not (quite) ready for prime time.

I thought it was pretty cool that Joel posted the perfect pic for how I feel this morning. View it background big and see more in his Winter slideshow.

Bears, it’s what’s for (Thanksgiving) dinner!

Thinking About the Zoo Visitors?

Thinking About the Zoo Visitors?, photo by Maia C

A very happy Thanksgiving to all of you. I remain very thankful that I have such a great group of photographers and readers for Michigan in Pictures. I love doing this blog, and your support makes it possible!

Maia suggests that this lion is perhaps thinking about zoo visitors, but my personal theory is that he’s thinking about bears, Chicago Bears to be exact! Thankfully, the NFL has given us the opponent who started it all, as the Detroit Lions share the history of the Thanksgiving Day game:

The game was the brainchild of G.A. Richards, the first owner of the Detroit Lions. Richards had purchased the team in 1934 and moved the club from Portsmouth, Ohio to the Motor City. The Lions were the new kids in town and had taken a backseat to the baseball Tigers. Despite the fact the Lions had lost only one game prior to Thanksgiving in 1934, the season’s largest crowd had been just 15,000.

The opponent that day in 1934 was the undefeated, defending World Champion Chicago Bears of George Halas. The game would determine the champion of the Western Division. Richards had convinced the NBC Radio Network to carry the game coast-to-coast (94 stations) and, additionally, an estimated 26,000 fans jammed into the University of Detroit Stadium while thousands more disappointed fans were turned away.

Despite two Ace Gutowsky touchdowns, the Bears won the inaugural game, 19-16, but a classic was born. Since 1934, 69 games have been played with the Lions holding a series record of 33-34-2 (.493). And each game, in its own way, continues to bring back memories of Thanksgiving, not only to Lions’ fans, but to football fans across the nation.

View Maia’s photo big as a lion and see more in her Detroit Zoo Spring/Summer 2008 slideshow.

More Thanksgiving features & photos and more Detroit Lions on Michigan in Pictures.