clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Decatur Staleys vs Portsmouth Spartans . . . Wait . . . Who?

     I thought we all could use a respite from the uncertainty and raging emotions that have surrounded the labor dispute between the NFLPA (now decertified) and the NFL. In that vein:

     We all have our favorite NFL team -- after all, that's what brings us back time and time again to Mile High Report. Other fans have their favorite team. But who the deuce were the Staleys that one fan was rooting for? Or the Spartans which had their own faithful following? Why do Decatur and Portsmouth have their place in NFL lore? How many of us remember that there were once two professional teams in Dallas?

Let me pose for all of you the same two trivia questions I recently asked the MHR staff:

1)How many of the current 32 NFL teams, over the course of the entire professional existence have: (a)been members of the NFL, (b)remained located in the same city, and (c)have retained the same team name?

2)How many of the current 32 NFL teams, in the course of their professional existence have been known by more than one team name (simply changing the city name does not count)?

After the jump, let's take a brief, and hopefully fun run down memory lane, looking at a very brief history of the teams we watch week in and week out during the fall.

     First, the answers to the trivia questions (for those who have not already figured out the answers and those who don't want to go look it up):

1)How many of the current 32 NFL teams, over the course of their entire professional existence have: (a)been members of the NFL, (b)remained located in the same city, and (c)have retained the same team name?

     There are twelve (in the order that the franchises were founded): Green Bay, New York Giants, Dallas, Minnesota, Atlanta, New Orleans, Seattle, Tampa Bay, Carolina, Jacksonville, Baltimore Ravens and Houston Texans.

     Now I do have to admit that I had quite a discussion on this with fellow staffers Jess Place (Jezru) and Troy Hufford on this topic. There were some objections to including Green Bay and Baltimore in the list. Jess rightly pointed out that Green Bay can trace its history back to playing as a semi-pro team as early as 1896, playing around Wisconsin as recently as 1919 and 1920. That original semi-pro team had been sponsored by the Indian Packing Company. I chose to include them since their first stint as a recognized professional team came when they became one of the founding franchises for the American Professional Football Association (the original name of the NFL) as the Green Bay Packers.

     The question of the Baltimore Ravens was even more debated than the Packers. The issue with including the Ravens on the list stemmed from the fact that the Ravens were created when Cleveland Browns owner Art Modell decided to move his team to Baltimore. Modell ended up in a legal dispute with fans and the city of Cleveland among others. Eventually a settlement was reached in which Modell would be allowed to keep the existing players and coaches, but they would play as a newly created franchise -- the Baltimore Ravens. The Cleveland Browns team name, history, records, archives, logos, etc., would all remain the property of Cleveland. After a period of three years, the NFL reactivated the Cleveland Browns as an NFL franchise.

2)How many of the current 32 NFL teams, in the course of their professional existence have been known by more than one team name (simply changing the city name does not count)?

     This question did not generate quite as much discussion. In point of fact, it did not generate any at all, since we all got caught up in debating the inclusion of the Packers and Ravens in question 1. There are seven NFL teams that have been known by multiple names: Chicago (Staleys) Detroit (Spartans), Philadelphia (Eagles/Steeler), Pittsburgh (Eagles/Steelers and Cardinals/Steelers), Kansas City (Texans), New York Jets (Titans), and Tennessee (Oilers).

Numerous teams have called different cities home. Listed in the tables below is a compilation of the homes and names belonging to the current thirty-two teams of the NFL:
Arizona Cardinals established 1920
1920-21 APFA Chicago Cardinals
1922-43 NFL Chicago Cardinals
1944 NFL Chicago/Pittsburgh Cardinals/Steelers (merger during WWII)
1945-49 NFL Chicago Cardinals
1950-87 NFL St. Louis Cardinals
1987-93 NFL Phoenix Cardinals
1994-2010 NFL Arizona Cardinals

APFA = American Professional Football Association (the original name of the NFL)

Chicago Bears established 1920
1920 APFA Decatur Staleys
1921 APFA Chicago Bears
1922-2010 NFL Chicago Bears


Green Bay Packers established 1921
Prior to 1921 Played as a semi-pro as early as 1896
1921 APFA Green Bay Packers
1922-2010 NFL Green Bay Packers


New York Giants established 1925
1925-2010 NFL New York Giants


Detroit Lions established 1930
1930-33 NFL Portsmouth Spartans
1934-2010 NFL Detroit Lions


Washington Redskins established 1932
1932-36 NFL Boston Redskins
1937-2010 NFL Washington Redskins


Philadelphia Eagles established 1933
1933-42 NFL Philadelphia Eagles
1943 NFL Philadelphia/Pittsburgh Eagles/Steelers (merged during WWII)
1944-2010 NFL Philadelphia Eagles


Pittsburgh Steelers established 1933
1933-39 NFL Pittsburgh Pirates
1940-42 NFL PIttsburgh Steelers
1943 NFL Philadelphia/Pittsburgh Eagles/Steelers (merged during WWII)
1944 NFL Chicago/Pittsburgh Cardinals/Steelers (merged during WWII)
1945-2010 NFL Pittsburgh Steelers


St. Louis Rams established 1937
1937-45 NFL Cleveland Rams
1946-94 NFL Los Angeles Rams
1995-2010 NFL St. Louis Rams


Cleveland Browns established 1946
1946-49 AAFC Cleveland Browns
1950-95 NFL Cleveland Browns
1996-98 Inactive as an NFL franchise
1999-2010 NFL Cleveland Browns

AAFC = All America Football Conference; a league started as a rival league to the NFL; the Browns were invited to join the NFL when the AAFC folded.

San Francisco 49ers established 1946
1946-49 AAFC San Francisco 49ers
1950-2010 NFL San Francisco 49ers

Invited to join the NFL after the AAFC folded.

Indianapolis Colts established 1953
1953-83 NFL Baltimore Colts
1984-2010 NFL Indianapolis Colts


Buffalo Bills established 1960
1960-69 AFL Buffalo Bills
1970-2010 NFL Buffalo Bills

AFL = American Football League; a rival league to the NFL which merged with the NFL and began playing games as a combined league in 1970.

Dallas Cowboys established 1960
1960-2010 NFL Dallas Cowboys


Denver Broncos established 1960
1960-69 AFL Denver Broncos
1970-2010 NFL Denver Broncos


Kansas City Chiefs established 1960
1960-62 AFL Dallas Texans
1963-69 AFL Kansas City Chiefs
1970-2010 NFL Kansas City Chiefs


New England Patriots established 1960
1960-69 AFL Boston Patriots
1970 NFL Boston Patriots
1971-2010 NFL New England Patriots


New York Jets established 1960
1960-62 AFL New York Titans
1963-69 AFL New York Jets
1970-2010 NFL New York Jets


Oakland Raiders established 1960
1960-69 AFL Oakland Raiders
1970-81 NFL Oakland Raiders
1982-94 NFL Los Angeles Raiders
1995-2010 NFL Oakland Raiders


San Diego Chargers established 1960
1960 AFL Los Angeles Chargers
1961-69 AFL San Diego Chargers
1970-2010 NFL San Diego Chargers


Tennessee Titans established 1960
1960-69 AFL Houston Oilers
1970-96 NFL Houston Oilers
1997-98 NFL Tennessee Oilers
1999-2010 NFL Tennessee Titans


Minnesota Vikings established 1961
1961-2010 NFL Minnesota Vikings


Atlanta Falcons established 1966
1966-2010 NFL Atlanta Falcons


Miami Dolphins established 1966
1966-69 AFL Miami Dolphins
1970-2010 NFL Miami Dolphins


New Orleans Saints established 1967
1967-2010 NFL New Orleans Saints


Cincinnati Bengals established 1968
1968-69 AFL Cincinnati Bengals
1970-2010 NFL Cincinnati Bengals


Seattle Seahawks established 1976
1976-2010 NFL Seattle Seahawks


Tampa Bay Buccaneers established 1976
1976-2010 NFL Tampa Bay Buccaneers


Carolina Panthers established 1995
1995-2010 NFL Carolina Panthers


Jacksonville Jaguars established 1995
1995-2010 NFL Jacksonville Jaguars


Baltimore Ravens established 1996
1996-2010 NFL Baltimore Ravens

As mentioned above: the coaches and players came from the Cleveland Browns franchise, but owner Art Modell settled litigation filed against him for moving the team by agreeing to establish a new franchise and leaving the rights to the Browns franchise in Cleveland. The Cleveland Browns were officially listed as inactive from 1996-99.

Houston Texans established 2002
2002-10 NFL Houston Texans

I hope you all enjoyed this short trip into the archives of NFL history. We can see how the teams have a rich and varied history with teams as young as nine years old and as old as ninety-one. We have teams that have changed their names and teams that have moved to new cities. Through it all the teams have forged strong rivalries and cultivated devoted fans. Of course, we have also been witnesses to the birth and growth of the only team with true significance: The Denver Broncos!