The Spartans were initially formed in 1929 in Portsmouth, Ohio, drawing players from defunct independent professional and semi-pro teams in the Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia tri-state area. They immediately made an impact by twice defeating the Ironton Tanks, a nearby independent professional team who had regularly played NFL member teams since the early 1920s with considerable success. Portsmouth residents agreed ...
Despite success on the field, low revenue and the Great Depression threatened the Spartans’ survival. On March 24, 1934, it was announced that a group led by George Richards, the owner of Detroit radio station WJR, bought the Spartans and moved them to Detroit for the 1934 season. Richards renamed the team the Lions, as a complement to the Detroit ...
History of the Spartans
The Portsmouth Spartans were a professional American football team based in Portsmouth, Ohio, that played for four seasons in the National Football League (NFL) from 1930 to 1933. Founded by attorney and businessman Harry A. Williamson, they were the first NFL team outside the Northeast United States.
The Spartans had success on and off the field during their brief existence as an NFL franchise; they won two division titles and made one appearance in an NFL championship game before being sold to George Richards of Detroit after just four years due to financial difficulties caused by The Great Depression. During their time as a member of the league, however, they established several milestones: They became only one of three teams (the others being Green Bay Packers & Chicago Bears) ever to win back-to-back championships; hosted what is considered by some historians as “the greatest single play” ever seen at any level when Bronko Nagurski scored on a fourth down run against them in 1932; set attendance records with over 13000 spectators attending games at times; and provided employment opportunities for future Hall Of Famers such as Dutch Clark & Earl "Dutch" Clark who both went onto become successful coaches after leaving The Spartan organization.
Despite all these accomplishments, it was not enough for them to remain competitive financially throughout this period, eventually leading owner Harry A Williamson to sell his club rights away. This move ultimately marked the end era where small towns like Portsmouth could compete with larger cities' big-budget operations like New York Giants or Boston Braves. It also changed how franchises would be run from then onwards, setting the stage modern-day sports business structure we now see today almost 90 years later.
Portsmouth - Detroit
1929 – Present / National Football League
1934 - Present / Detroit Lions
1929 - 1933 / Portsmouth Spartans
Spartans - The Portsmouth Spartans were a professional American football team that played in the National Football League (NFL) from 1930 to 1933. Despite their short tenure, they made history as the first NFL team based outside America's Midwest and Northeast regions. They are also remembered for having one of the unique nicknames in NFL history: The Spartans. But where did this nickname come from?
The answer lies with its founder, Harry Akeley Sr., who was born and raised in Portsmouth, Ohio – hence why he named his new franchise after his hometown city. He wanted something substantial and powerful-sounding that would represent not just himself but all those living there at the time; thus, “Spartans” was chosen as it had connotations with strength and bravery associated with Ancient Greek warriors famously depicted by Hollywood movies such as 300 or Troy!
In addition to being an homage to Akeley’s birthplace, another possible explanation could be due to a local high school called Spartan High School, which also existed during this period. However, no official records exist linking these two events, so it remains unknown if any connection exists between them both!
Regardless of how they got their name, however – what is known is that The Spartans left an impressive legacy despite only playing three seasons before folding due to financial difficulties caused by The Great Depression era economic downturns at a time! This included winning back-to-back division titles (1931 & 1932) plus making appearances in Super Bowl I & II many years later when teams began using similar names like Seattle Seahawks or San Francisco 49ers…so next time you hear someone talking about “Spartans,” remember there's more than meets the eye - especially when comes down origins behind iconic sports franchises like these here today.
Super Bowl 0
NFL Championship 0
1957, 1953, 1952, 1935
2002 - Present / Ford Field
1975 - 2001 / Pontiac Silverdome
1938 - 1939, 1961 - 1974 / Tiger Stadium
1941 - 1960 / Briggs Stadium
1940 / University of Detroit Stadium
1934 - 1937 / University of Detroit Stadium
1929 - 1933 / Universal Stadium
2020 - Present / Sheila Ford Hamp
2015 – 2019 / Martha Firestone Ford
1964 – 2014 / William Clay Ford, Sr.
1948 – 1964 / Edwin J. Anderson
1940 – 1948 / Fred Mandel
1934 – 1940 / George A. Richards
1929 – 1933 / Town of Portsmouth
To qualify as the greatest player for this team, the player must have played one season for this team. If not, we will remove the player.
* verifies that player has played for this team as an added player by a fan.
7 / Dutch Clark
20 / Lem Barney
20 / Billy Sims
20 / Barry Sanders
22 / Bobby Layne
37 / Doak Walker
56 / Joe Schmidt
85 / Chuck Hughes
*Blue is this team’s history