True Colors: The Lions Should Return to Honolulu Blue and Silver

There certainly has not been good news coming out of the Detroit Lions camp recently but I was pleased to see the Lions will return to wearing their traditional throwback uniforms for the annual Thanksgiving Day game.

The team last wore the 1950s-style uniforms — blue jerseys with silver numbers, a plain silver helmet and silver pants — to celebrate their 75th anniversary season in 2008.

Now obviously I know what a team wears doesn’t make a difference on how they play, but if we are going to lose, hell let’s do it in style.

I for one cannot stand the current Lion uniform and helmet. Don’t tell me that the Lion blue is Honolulu Blue because it isn’t. It is a much paler blue and with the introduction of black outlining, they have divorced themselves from their famous colors. To me, they look a lot more like the Carolina Panthers. This change first occurred under the Matt Millen regime and for that reason alone they should rid themselves of it.

Why the Lions would want to divorce themselves from their traditional colors that were made so famous in their glory years of the 1950s is beyond me. They should be celebrating and marketing that history but perhaps they don’t because maybe it’s too embarrassing to remember that over half a century since they were champions.

It’s a travesty that the Lions do not display championship banners at Ford Field for 1935, 1952, 1953, and 1957, nor do they display the famous numbers that have been taken out of circulation but never officially retired. That would be 22 for Bobby Layne, 37 for Doak Walker, 56 for Joe Schmidt and 20 for Lem Barney, Billy Sims and Barry Sanders.

Ten years ago I had the pleasure to interview Glenn Presnell, the last surviving member of the first Detroit Lions team of 1934. One of my last questions to him was did he know how the Lions came up with the Honolulu Blue and Silver colors.

His answer blew me away.

“My wife and I were the ones who selected the Lion’s colors,” he said. “At our meeting in the Fisher Building with the owner G.A. Richards he asked us to look at the different colored jerseys in the next room. There was everything from orange and black to red and white were there. We saw the Honolulu Blue and Silver and we told him that’s what we liked.”

Legend has it that Richards had picked the beautiful deep blue color because it reminded him of the color of the water at Honolulu Hawaii where he vacationed.

Mr. Ford, let’s hang those banners and jersey numbers, go back to the team’s original colors and just maybe today’s players will have instilled within them some true Lions pride.

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About Bill Dow

Bill Dow has written numerous articles on Detroit sports history as a regular freelance contributor to the Detroit Free Press sports page, and some of his work has been published in Baseball Digest magazine. He also wrote the Afterword to the latest editions of George Plimpton’s book Paper Lion.