The Detroit Lions

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The Detroit Lions are one of the oldest pro football teams in the National Football League. They were originally based in Ohio in Portsmouth and were called the Portsmouth Spartans. They were started as an independent pro football team in 1929 and were one of many of the same type of team in the Scioto River and Ohio valleys.

Formally in the 1930 season, the Spartans joined the NFL while all the other teams around them folded because of the Great Depression. Even though they were successfully somewhat with a financial nature because of the NFL, they could not survive in the NFL's smallest city of Portsmouth and had to move to Detroit where they were purchased for the season of 1934.

The Lions have most assuredly been one of the NFL teams with the longest winning drought. Even though they have won four NFL championships, the last one was 51 years ago in 1957. The only other team to have a longer losing record is the Arizona Cardinals. They last won an NFL championship in 1947 when they were the Chicago Cardinals.

The Detroit Lions have not qualified for a Super Bowl as of yet. And they have qualified for the playoffs for a total of only nine times since they won the 1957 championship. Out of those total nine times they have won only one playoff game in that whole span of games. Even though they are not a winning team now, they have not always been that way.

The Lions started out at the Portsmouth Spartans and were an immediate hit with their home crowd by twice defeating one of the big teams of the day, the Ironton Tanks. With a successful first season, they then were granted membership into the NFL for the 1930 season. They had some really great games in the early days, one game which was the "iron man" game against the Packers in 1932. The Spartans won 19-0 and had used on 11 players the whole game. If a coach did that now, who knows what would happen.

Also in 1932, the Chicago Bears played an unscheduled NFL championship game against the Spartans on an indoor 80-yard field which the Bears won 9-0. This game has been called the first arena football game by many. The upcoming interest in this type of play led to the Eastern and Western conferences being established and the start of a regular championship game being played every year.

In the 1930s the Great Depression was a threat to the Spartans just as it was to every other pro football team of that era and a decision to move the team to Detroit was the answer to their economic survival. Detroit radio executive George Richards led the way to buy and move the Spartans to Detroit in 1934. He then decided to rename the team the Lions as a tribute to the Detroit Tigers. He had big hopes for the team and was known to say that the Lion was the monarch of the jungle and he intended for the Detroit Lions to be the king of the NFL.

Due to the influence of George Richards, the Lions played on Thanksgiving Day in their number one season in Detroit and that has been the tradition ever since. The Detroit Lions always play one of the Thanksgiving Day games. Their rival team may change from year to year but the one constant that Americans can count on is that Detroit will be playing on Turkey Day.

Freddie Brister is a big fan College and Pro Football. Check out his Detroit Lions Store or his LSU Tigers Merchandise at SportsFanTreasures.

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