While Detroit is perhaps best known for being the city where Henry Ford built his first car, or where countless musicians got their big break through the iconic Motown Records, it's also the home of one of the oldest franchises in the NFL: the Detroit Lions.
In 1934, after being purchased by radio exec George A. Richards for $8,000 (a big deal in the '30s), the Spartans of small town Portsmouth, Ohio were shipped off to Motor City and rebranded as the Detroit Lions. Proving that they were a force to be reckoned with almost right off the bat, the newly named Lions won their first NFL Championship under the direction of head coach George "Potsy" Clark in 1935, thanks to a solid roster that included Hall of Fame quarterback Earl "Dutch" Clark.
While the franchise has gotten a taste of the playoffs over the years, their most successful seasons were primarily in the 1950s. A golden era for the Lions, this decade saw league championship wins in 1952, ‘53 and ’57, as well as a conference championship in 1954. In fact, almost half of players on the franchise's Pro Football Hall of Fame roster -- Jack Christiansen, Lou Creekmur, Yale Lary, Bobby Layne, Joe Schmidt and Doak Walker -- dominated the field during those glory years.
Though the team has drafted many notable players throughout their time in the NFL -- including Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders and his "superhuman-like moves" in the late '80s and '90s -- they haven't quite recaptured the success of years past. The "Fearsome Foursome" defensive line of Alex Karras, Roger Brown, Darris McCord and Sam Williams certainly gained attention in the 1960s... but perhaps not as much as Karras himself, who went on to take Hollywood by storm, starring in films like Blazing Saddles and Porky's, as well as the popular ‘80s television show Webster.
Since that initial move so many years ago, the Lions have kept their roots firmly planted in Detroit -- all over the city, in fact. After playing at the University of Detroit's stadium in the early ’30s, the franchise spent 37 years at Briggs Stadium (later renamed Tiger Stadium) before moving to the Pontiac Silverdome from 1975 to 2001. Since '02, they've resided at the domed Ford Field, which includes an impressive seven-story atrium that offers a gorgeous view of the city.
No matter where the team has played over the years, one thing that hasn't wavered is Detroit's adoration of their beloved Thanksgiving Day game. A tradition that began in 1934, the Thanksgiving Day showdown has held steady, becoming an integral part of the Lions' season. From that very first match-up (which brought in approximately 26,000 spectators) to the 74th game in 2013 (which showcased the team's 21st Thanksgiving Day faceoff with the Green Bay Packers), decades of diehard Lions fans are sure to agree: it's certainly not a true Turkey Day in Detroit without a little football.