How The Detroit Lions Got Their Name
The year was 1934, and radio executive George Richards has just purchased the Portsmouth Spartans of the National Football League.
Richards knew when he bought the team, that Portsmouth,Ohio wasn't going to cut it when it came to building a fan base, so he set his sights on one of America's fastest growing cities, Detroit.
The year before Richards moved his team to the Motor City, which was thriving at the time thanks to a red hot car market, the Detroit Tigers were coming off one of their best years, having won 101 games, along with the America League pennant.
In addition, one of the hottest attractions in Detroit at the time was the Detroit Zoo.
So Richards stayed with the big cat theme and named his newly purchased club, the "Lions".
Detroit Zoo director John Millen gifted the organization with two lion cubs named "Grid" and "Iron," who would greet fans on the sidelines of their new home, University of Detroit Stadium.
Speaking to the press after the announcement, Richards let it be known, he desired to be the "Lion King." “The lion is the monarch of the jungle," he told them, "and we hope to be the monarch of the league.”
And for awhile, they were. The Lions would win the NFL title their first year in Detroit, and would add three more before 1957 came, brining with it the dreaded "Bobby Layne Curse".
Bobby, traded to Pittsburgh in 1958 to make room for newly acquired Tobin Rote, allegedly said "this team will not win a title for another 50 years."
That curse ended in 2008. Everything since then is just because of bad ownership.
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