The Detroit Lions were founded in 1929 as the Portsmouth Spartans, based in Portsmouth, Michigan. In 1930, the Spartans joined the National Football Team. In 1934, amid struggles of playing in such a small city, the Spartans moved to Detroit and were renamed the Lions. The next year the Lions would win the NFL Championship game, beating the New York Giants, 26-7.
The Lions best seasons would come in the 1950's under quarterback Bobby Layne. With Layne, the Lions won three NFL championships in 1953, 1954, and 1957. 1957 would be the last year the Detroit Lions won a championship. During the 1957 NFL Championship game, Layne broke his leg in three places. Tobin Rote would replace him. Layne was then traded to the Pittsburgh Steelers. After his trading, he apartently said that the Lions would not win for 50 years. This has become known as "The Curse of Bobby Layne" and is often pointed to as the reason why the Lions have had such poor success, especially in the quarterback position.
The Detroit Lions currently play in the North Division of the National Football Conference. The Lions and the Dallas Cowboys are the only two teams to permanently host a game on Thanksgiving Day. In 2008, the Lions were the first NFL team to lose all 16 regular season games in a season. Coincidentally, the 0-16 season happened 50 years after Bobby Layne supposedly said "the Lions won't win for 50 years."
After the 2008 campaign, things started to look up for Detroit. In the 2009 draft, the Lions used their first pick to draft quarterback Matthew Stafford (who went to the same high-school as Bobby Layne). Stafford, along with wide receiver Calvin "Megatron" Johnson, put Detroit back into the playoffs in 2011 with a 10-6 record, the 2nd best in the NFC North. The Lions would lose to the New Orleans Saints, 46-28.
Since the NFL-AFL Merger, Detroit has gone 1-10 in the playoffs. The Lions are one of four current NFL teams to never play in a Super Bowl (the others being the Houston Texans, Cleveland Browns, and Jacksonville Jaguars).