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
Originally based in Portsmouth, Ohio, and called the Portsmouth Spartans, the team formally joined the NFL on July 12, 1930, and began to play in the 1930 season. Despite success within the NFL, they could not survive in Portsmouth, then the NFL's smallest city. The team was purchased and relocated to Detroit for the 1934 season.
The Spartans formed in 1928 when the team began importing players from defunct independent professional and semi-professional teams. The following year, Portsmouth residents agreed to fund the construction of a football stadium that was comparable to those in neighboring communities along the Ohio River. That approval prompted the National Football League to grant the city a franchise on July 12, 1930. The Spartans played their first NFL game at Universal Stadium on September 14. With fewer than 43,000 residents in 1930, Portsmouth became the NFL's second-smallest city, ahead of only Green Bay, which had a population of under 38,000. During the team's first year in the league, the Spartans compiled a record of 5–6–3, tying for seventh place in the eleven-team league in 1930.
Portsmouth - Detroit
1929 – Present / National Football League
1934 - Present / Detroit Lions
1929 - 1933 / Portsmouth Spartans
Spartans - Spartan tradition means one must be courageous. Spartan refers to a citizen of the ancient Greek polis of Sparta. Spartan was a warrior society in ancient Greece that reached the height of its power after defeating rival city-state Athens in the Peloponnesian War.
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