The Portsmouth Spartans

Victorious in 1932 by a score of 19-0. In the game known as the “iron man game” because the Spartan coach, Potsy Clark, refused
Floodwall MuralGlenn Presnell
to use a substitute in restitution for the Green Bay Packers being named champions of the NFL in 1931 after they refused to play Portsmouth in a championship game. The Spartans were admitted to the NFL in 1930. The first night football game in the NFL was played between the Spartans and the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1930. The first NFL Championship game and the first indoor football game was played in December 1932 between the Portsmouth Spartans and the Chicago Bears. Dutch Clark, former Spartan, is a Charter Member of the National Professional Football Hall of Fame. The Portsmouth Spartans franchise became the Detroit Lions in 1934. In 1935, the Lions, with mostly former Spartans in their starting line-up, won the NFL Championship.

“The Portsmouth Spartans” is a 20’ x 35’ mural painted on the floodwall in Portsmouth, Ohio by Robert Dafford in 1994. The mural depicts the NFL “iron man” contest in 1932 when the Spartans defeated the Green Bay Packers, 19 to 0.

1932 Championship

Indoor Game: The weather was brutal, so the first “unofficial” NFL Championship Game between the Chicago Bears and Portsmouth Spartans was moved inside to Chicago Stadium in 1932.


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