How the Portsmouth Ohio Spartans became the Detroit Lions
The Detroit Lions also have their roots in Ohio. Portsmouth Ohio had an NFL franchise for a while. If that sounds weird, it is, but so is the fact that Green Bay, Wisconsin has an NFL team. The Spartans got their start as a semi-pro team in the Ohio League, but graduated to the NFL in 1930.
Amazingly, they were not half bad in their first year, finishing 5-6-3. By the third year, they played in the first-ever NFL Championship game, losing to the Chicago Bears 9-0. Because of a snowstorm, the game was moved indoors and played on a short field (only 80 yards) on Sunday Night. This had happened before, so it was not the first indoor night game in NFL history.
Anecdotally, Ringling Brothers had been the last to use the arena, and the stench from elephant poop was so pungent that a Chicago Bears player threw up on the field. What a wimp! Hopefully, George Halas cut him from the team right then and there.
The Lions prevailed in the Championship, 9-0.
The following year, in 1933, Portsmouth finished second in their division. However, the team did not make money, partly owing to the small size of their fan base. The team was sold to George A. Richards of Detroit prior to the 1934 season, and thenceforward they were known as the Detroit Lions.
There were several other teams in Ohio, notably the 1920 World Champion Akron Pros, the Dayton Triangles, the Columbus Panhandles, and a couple or three others
To sum up, Paul Brown was responsible for our Cleveland Browns, the Baltimore Ravens, and the Cincinnati Bengals. The Cleveland Rams moved out of Cleveland when the Browns moved in. The New York Giants were half homegrown, and merged with the former Cleveland Bulldogs, after a one-year stay in Detroit.
The Cleveland Bulldogs were not the same franchise as the Canton Bulldogs, but many of the players moved from one team to the other and back. The present-day Detroit Lions were created by moving the Portsmouth Spartans to Detroit.
That makes seven teams with Ohio roots, or maybe six and a half if the Giants only count for half. And two of those teams will square off in Super Bowl LVI.