In 1905, several University of Detroit footballl players, led by Bill Marshall, organized the Heralds as an amateur team after the University did not field a squad due to financial issues. It was at this time that the team adopted the school's colors, red and white, as their own. While the University's football team reesumed play in 1906, the Heralds continued to play as an amateur team. In 1911, the team droped its amateur status and became semi-professional and left the campus. Admission to the team's games was soon charged and the players were paid a small sum. In 1916, several out-of-town players were brought in to replace some of the older players, several of whom had been with the Heralds since 1905.
Despite not being based in Ohio, the Heralds played many of their games against teams in the Ohio League. In 1917, the team recorded a 8-2 record, their only losses coming at the hands of the Ohio League champion Canton Bulldogs and a military team from Battle Creek. Many of the Heralds' victories were against future NFL teams. The Heralds were a rarity in 1918; while most teams either stopped play or reduced their schedules to only local teams because of World War I and the flu pandemic, the Heralds continued to play a full schedule and even travel to other cities, accruing a 6-2 record with both losses coming to the Ohio League champion Dayton Triangles. In 1919, as the suspended teams resumed play and travel restrictions eased significantly, the Heralds went 2-4-2, including losses to Canton and the Massillon Tigers, the two best teams in Ohio and possibly the country.
In 1920, the American Professional Football Association (later renamed the National Football League in 1922) was established. While the Heralds didn't officially join the association, they are listed in league standings for the season. In 1920, the Heralds comprised a 1-3 record, while inclement weather eliminated their November schedule, financially devastating the team.