NFL’s own Portsmouth Spartans

Before Calvin Johnson and Ndamukong Suh were displaying their talents in Detroit, the Lions franchise played its home games in Portsmouth. The Portsmouth Spartans were formed in 1929 and recruited athletes from the surrounding Ohio, Kentucky, and West Virginia region. In 1930, the team was offered league membership and at the time they were the 2nd smallest city to host a team (only in front of the Green Bay Packers). In 1932, the Spartans finished the regular season with a record of 6-1-4 tied with the Chicago Bears atop the league standing. This was the first time an outright winner could not be named at the end of the season. League officials came up with the idea for a one game playoff to decide the NFL title. This is considered to be the first playoff game in NFL history. The Spartans eventually lost to the Bears 9-0 in the NFL title game however the game resulted in the establishment of the Eastern and Western Conference. Starting in 1933, the winner of each conference would play each other in the NFL championship. As a result of the Great Depression and weakening economic conditions in Portsmouth, the team was bought out and moved to Detroit in 1934. The team was then renamed the Lions. The Lions franchise which dates back to the Portsmouth Spartans is considered to be the 5th oldest team in NFL history.

 

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