|1997 Detroit Lions season|
|Head coach||Bobby Ross|
|General manager||Chuck Schmidt|
|Owner||William Clay Ford, Sr.|
|Home field||Pontiac Silverdome|
|Division place||3rd NFC Central|
|Playoff finish||Lost Wild Card Playoffs (Buccaneers) 10–20|
The 1997 Detroit Lions season was their 68th in the National Football League (NFL).
The 1997 NFL season was the 78th regular season of the National Football League. The Oilers relocated from Houston, Texas to Nashville, Tennessee. The newly renamed Tennessee Oilers played their home games during this season at the Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis, Tennessee while construction of a new stadium in Nashville started. Houston would rejoin the NFL with the expansion Texans in 2002.
The Detroit Lions are a professional American football team based in Detroit, Michigan. The Lions compete in the National Football League (NFL) as a member club of the league's National Football Conference (NFC) North division. The team plays its home games at Ford Field in Downtown Detroit.
The National Football League (NFL) is a professional American football league consisting of 32 teams, divided equally between the National Football Conference (NFC) and the American Football Conference (AFC). The NFL is one of the four major professional sports leagues in North America and the highest professional level of American football in the world. The NFL's 17-week regular season runs from early September to late December, with each team playing 16 games and having one bye week. Following the conclusion of the regular season, six teams from each conference advance to the playoffs, a single-elimination tournament culminating in the Super Bowl, which is usually held on the first Sunday in February and is played between the champions of the NFC and AFC.
The Lions rebounded from a disastrous 1996 season, finishing 9–7 and qualifying for the playoffs for the fifth time in seven seasons – the best stretch in franchise history.
The 1996 Detroit Lions season was their 67th in the National Football League (NFL). The team declined severely from their previous season's output of 10–6. Following a 4-2 start, the Lions would proceed to lose nine of their final ten games to finish 5-11, missing the playoffs for the first time in four seasons.
Bobby Ross replaced Wayne Fontes as head coach. The highlight of the season was Barry Sanders becoming the third player in NFL history to rush for at least 2,000 yards in a season. Sanders shared the 1997 Associated Press MVP Award with Packers quarterback Brett Favre.
Wayne Fontes is a former American football coach and college and professional football player who was the head coach of the National Football League's Detroit Lions from 1988 to 1996. His 67 wins and 71 losses are each the most for a head coach in team history.
Barry Sanders is a former American football running back. He played professionally for the Detroit Lions of the National Football League (NFL). A Pro Bowl invitee in each of his ten NFL seasons and two-time NFL Offensive Player of the Year, Sanders led the league in rushing yards four times and established himself as one of the most elusive runners in pro football with his quickness and agility. In 2007, he was ranked by NFL Network's NFL Top 10 series as the most elusive runner in NFL history, and also topped its list of greatest players never to play in a Super Bowl. He is often regarded as one of the greatest running backs in NFL history.
The 1997 Green Bay Packers season was their 79th season overall and their 77th in the National Football League. The season concluded with the team winning its second consecutive NFC championship, but losing in a 31–24 upset to John Elway's Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXXII. The team narrowly missed its opportunity to post back-to-back Super Bowl wins.
As a team, the Lions set an NFL rushing record, gaining 5.51 yards per rushing attempt.The Lions scored 379 points in 1997, the fourth-most of any team in the league.
|1997 Detroit Lions draft|
|2||35||Juan Roque||Tackle||Arizona State|
|5||135||Pete Chryplewicz||Tight end||Notre Dame|
|5||161||Duane Ashman||Defensive end||Virginia|
|6||168||Tony Ramirez||Guard||Northern Colorado|
|7||206||Terry Battle||Running back||Arizona State|
|7||232||Marcus Harris||Wide receiver||Wyoming|
|7||239||Richard Jordan||Linebacker||Missouri Southern|
|Made roster Made at least one Pro Bowl during career|
|1997 Detroit Lions staff|
Ron Hughes was the college scouting coordinator of the NFL's Pittsburgh Steelers.
Larry Dwayne Lee is a former American football center who played eight seasons in the National Football League (NFL).
Kevin Colbert is the general manager of the National Football League's Pittsburgh Steelers since the start of 2000. He is widely credited with putting together the Super Bowl XL and the Super Bowl XLIII teams in Pittsburgh along with owner Dan Rooney, president Art Rooney II, and coaches Bill Cowher and Mike Tomlin.
Sylvester Croom Jr. is a retired American football coach. He was previously the running backs coach for the NFL's Tennessee Titans. He was the head coach at Mississippi State University from 2004 to 2008, and the first African American head football coach in the Southeastern Conference. His father, Sylvester Croom, Sr., was himself an All-American football player at Alabama A&M, later the team chaplain at the University of Alabama, and has been recognized by that school as one of the state's 40 pioneers of civil rights. After his time at Mississippi State, Croom, Jr. served as running backs coach for three teams in the National Football League.
Marc Marlyn Trestman is an American and Canadian football coach who is the head coach and general manager of the Tampa Bay Vipers of the XFL. He was also recently head coach of the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League (CFL), and served as the head coach of the Montreal Alouettes of the CFL and Chicago Bears of the National Football League (NFL). He led the Alouettes to two consecutive Grey Cup championships and was named CFL Coach of the Year in 2009. He played college football as a quarterback for three seasons with the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers, and one season at Minnesota State University Moorhead.
Jerry Sullivan is a professional and college football coach. He spent 25-years in the National Football League, 24 of them as a wide receivers coach. He also spent over 20-years as a college football coach.
Special teams coaches
Strength and conditioning
|1997 Detroit Lions final roster|
The final game of the regular season, on December 21, was marked by emotional highs and lows. Entering the game at 8–7 and needing a win to secure a playoff berth, the Lions played host to the 9–6 New York Jets, who like the Lions would be eliminated from the playoffs with a loss (although the Jets still had a chance to win the AFC East and get a home playoff game). In addition, Barry Sanders entered the game with a chance to potentially break the NFL’s single season rushing record— Sanders entered the game with 1,869 rushing yards, leaving him 131 from 2,000 and 237 away from what would have been a record setting 2,106 yards, topping Eric Dickerson’s 2,105 set in 1984. The Lions won the game 13–10, clinching the playoff spot and eliminating the Jets from the playoffs. A fourth-quarter touchdown run by Sanders proved decisive, and he finished with 184 yards to top out at 2,053 for the year – with Sanders rushing for an even 2,000 yards over the final 14 games. At the time, Sanders became only the third man to rush for 2,000 yards in a season behind O. J. Simpson and Dickerson and had rushed for the second most yards in a season (since Sanders, Terrell Davis, Jamal Lewis, Chris Johnson, and Adrian Peterson have accomplished the feat; Sanders’ total is now the fourth highest total behind Dickerson's 2,105, Peterson’s 2,096 in 2012, and Lewis’ 2,066 in 2003).
The mood, however, was somewhat tempered due to a career-ending injury suffered by Lions linebacker Reggie Brown. Brown was assisting on a tackle made on Jets running back Adrian Murrell when his head was struck by another player's leg. Brown suffered a spinal cord injury on the play and lost consciousness. At one point Brown actually stopped breathing and nearly died on the field, but was resuscitated. Brown did not move for seventeen minutes, and was eventually carried by ambulance out of the Silverdome. Brown was diagnosed with a spinal cord contusion and never played in the NFL again, although surgery did enable him to continue to be mobile. Brown's injury evoked memories of former Lion Mike Utley's paralyzing injury in 1991 and former Jet Dennis Byrd’s broken neck in 1992. Brown was also not the only Lion to suffer a career ending neck injury in 1997, as defensive back Harry Colon suffered damage to his neck during an earlier game against the New York Giants.
|Week||Date||Opponent||Result||TV Time(ET)||TV Announcers||Attendance|
|1||August 31, 1997||Atlanta Falcons||W 28–17||FOX 1:00pm||Sam Rosen & Ron Pitts|
|2||September 7, 1997||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||L 24–17||FOX 1:00pm||Eric Clemons & Trevor Matich|
|3||September 14, 1997||at Chicago Bears||W 32–7||FOX 1:00pm||Kevin Harlan & Jerry Glanville|
|4||September 21, 1997||at New Orleans Saints||L 35–17||FOX 1:00pm||Kenny Albert & Tim Green|
|5||September 28, 1997||Green Bay Packers||W 26–15||FOX 1:00pm||Dick Stockton & Matt Millen|
|6||October 5, 1997||at Buffalo Bills||L 22–13||FOX 1:00pm||Paul Kennedy & Jerry Glanville|
|7||October 12, 1997||at Tampa Bay Buccaneers||W 27–9||FOX 1:00pm||Dick Stockton & Matt Millen|
|8||October 19, 1997||New York Giants||L 26–20 OT||FOX 4:00pm||Pat Summerall & John Madden|
|10||November 2, 1997||at Green Bay Packers||L 20–10||ESPN 8:00pm||Mike Patrick & Joe Theismann|
|11||November 9, 1997||at Washington Redskins||L 30–7||FOX 1:00pm||Thom Brennaman & Ron Pitts|
|12||November 16, 1997||Minnesota Vikings||W 38–15||FOX 1:00pm||Dick Stockton & Matt Millen|
|13||November 23, 1997||Indianapolis Colts||W 32–10||NBC 1:00pm||Dan Hicks & Jim Kelly|
|14||November 27, 1997||Chicago Bears||W 55–20||FOX 12:30 pm||Pat Summerall & John Madden|
|15||December 7, 1997||at Miami Dolphins||L 33–30||ESPN 8:00pm||Mike Patrick & Joe Theismann|
|16||December 14, 1997||at Minnesota Vikings||W 14–13||FOX 1:00pm||Kevin Harlan & Jerry Glanville|
|17||December 21, 1997||New York Jets||W 13–10||NBC 4:00pm||Dick Enberg, Paul Maguire & Phil Simms|
|(2) Green Bay Packers||13||3||0||.813||422||282||W5|
|(4) Tampa Bay Buccaneers||10||6||0||.625||299||263||W1|
|(5) Detroit Lions||9||7||0||.563||379||306||W2|
|(6) Minnesota Vikings||9||7||0||.563||354||359||W1|
Tampa Bay won their first playoff game since 1979 with quarterback Trent Dilfer's 9-yard touchdown pass to receiver Horace Copeland, running back Mike Alstott's 31-yard touchdown run, and two field goals. Their defense limited Lions quarterback Scott Mitchell to just 10 of 25 completions for 78 yards.
Richard Joseph Gannon is a former American football quarterback who played eighteen seasons in the National Football League (NFL). He is a sports commentator with CBS Sports and Sirius XM NFL Radio.
Vincent Frank Testaverde Sr. is an American former football quarterback who played for 21 seasons in the National Football League (NFL). He played college football at Miami, where he was an All-American and won the Heisman Trophy in 1986.
James Larnell "Shack" Harris is a former American football executive and former player. He also was a senior personnel executive for the Detroit Lions of the National Football League (NFL). He played as a quarterback in the American Football League (AFL) and the NFL with the Buffalo Bills, Los Angeles Rams, and San Diego Chargers. Harris is the inspiration for the song "Ramblin' Man From Gramblin'" composed by Sam Spence. His nickname Shack is short for Meshach which was given to him by his Baptist minister father.
Ronnie G. Brown Jr. is a former American football running back. After graduating from Cartersville High School in Georgia, Brown attended Auburn University to play college football for the Auburn Tigers. He and Cadillac Williams shared carries at running back, while he had 1,008 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2002, 446 yards and five touchdowns in 2003, and 913 yards and eight touchdowns in 2004. Brown finished seventh in school history with 2,707 rushing yards and fifth with 28 rushing touchdowns. He twice earned second-team All-Southeastern Conference honors in 2002 and 2004.
Franklin Delano "Frank" Gore is an American football running back for the Buffalo Bills of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football for the University of Miami, and was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in the third round of the 2005 NFL Draft, playing with them from 2005 to 2014. He is the 49ers all-time leader in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns.
Ryan Joseph Fitzpatrick, nicknamed Fitzmagic, is an American football quarterback for the Miami Dolphins of the National Football League (NFL). He was drafted by the St. Louis Rams in the seventh round of the 2005 NFL Draft. He played college football at Harvard and was the first quarterback in school history to rush for over 1,000 yards in a career.
James Bradley Johnson is a former American football quarterback. Born in Marietta, Georgia, Johnson grew up in Black Mountain, North Carolina and later played both college basketball and football at Florida State. The Minnesota Vikings drafted Johnson in the ninth round of the 1992 NFL Draft. He spent seven seasons with the Vikings and two seasons with the Washington Redskins before becoming the starting quarterback of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2001. He led the Buccaneers to their Super Bowl XXXVII title over the Oakland Raiders. He played for the Buccaneers for four seasons from 2001 to 2004, the Minnesota Vikings for two more seasons from 2005 to 2006, and the Dallas Cowboys where he played in 2007.
Drew Emeric Stanton is an American football quarterback for the Cleveland Browns of the National Football League (NFL). He was drafted by the Detroit Lions in the second round of the 2007 NFL Draft. He played college football at Michigan State. Stanton has also been a member of the New York Jets, Indianapolis Colts and Arizona Cardinals.
William Erik Kramer is an American former football quarterback. He attended John Burroughs High School in Burbank, California. After attending Los Angeles Pierce College and playing as their quarterback, Kramer transferred to North Carolina State University. He was not drafted by an NFL team, but did see action in 1987, when he played for the Atlanta Falcons as a replacement player during the NFL players strike. He would then spend some time in the CFL with the Calgary Stampeders. Kramer would return to the NFL in 1991, when he became a surprise starter for the Detroit Lions after injuries sidelined Rodney Peete. Kramer played in 13 games, led the Lions to a 12–4 record, their first playoff victory since 1962, and a trip to the NFC Championship Game.
John Matthew Stafford is an American football quarterback for the Detroit Lions of the National Football League (NFL). He was raised in Dallas, Texas, and went to Highland Park High School. He attended the University of Georgia, where he played football for the Bulldogs, and was drafted by the Lions first overall in the 2009 NFL Draft.
Cameron Jerrell Newton is an American football quarterback for the Carolina Panthers of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football at Florida and Auburn. He was drafted as the first overall pick by the Panthers in the 2011 NFL Draft. Newton is the only player in the modern era to be awarded the Heisman Trophy, win a national championship, and become the first overall pick in an NFL draft within a one-year span. He was the 2011 NFL Rookie of the Year, is a three-time Pro Bowler, and was named the NFL MVP in 2015.
The history of the Detroit Lions, a professional American football franchise based in Detroit, Michigan, dates back to 1928 when they played in Portsmouth, Ohio as the Portsmouth Spartans. In 2019, they will begin their 91st season, continuing to be one of the National Football League's oldest franchises.
The 1997 Tampa Bay Buccaneers season was the franchise's 22nd season in the National Football League. Having gone 6–10 season the previous season, Tampa Bay finished second in the NFC Central, and secured their first playoff berth since the strike-shortened 1982 season.
Reginald Dwayne Brown is a former American football linebacker in the National Football League (NFL). He was drafted in the first round of the 1996 NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions. He played college football at Texas A&M.
Joshua Javon Johnson is an American football quarterback for the Detroit Lions of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football at San Diego, and was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the fifth round of the 2008 NFL Draft. Considered a journeyman quarterback, Johnson has been a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, San Francisco 49ers, Sacramento Mountain Lions, Cleveland Browns, Cincinnati Bengals, New York Jets, Indianapolis Colts, Buffalo Bills, Baltimore Ravens, New York Giants, Houston Texans, Oakland Raiders, Washington Redskins, and Detroit Lions. Despite playing for thirteen teams during his NFL career, he did not win his first game as a starter until his 11th season in the NFL as a member of the Redskins in 2018.
The 1991 Detroit Lions season was the franchise's 62nd season in the National Football League, their 58th as the Detroit Lions. It stands as the team's best season since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970.
The 1995 Detroit Lions season was the team's 66th in the National Football League (NFL). Finishing at 10-6, it marked the Lions' third consecutive winning season, which had not been accomplished in Detroit since the team posted four consecutive winning seasons from 1969-1972.
The 1994 Detroit Lions season was the 65th season in franchise history. The Lions finished with a 9-7 record and made their second consecutive playoff appearance as one of the NFC's Wildcard teams -- the first time the franchise had made the playoffs in consecutive non-strike seasons since 1954.
The 1999 Detroit Lions season was their 70th in the league. The team improved upon their previous season's output of 5–11 and qualified for the playoffs, with a .500 record at 8–8. It would be their sixth playoff appearance of the decade, capping one of the most successful 10-year stretches in franchise history.