Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Detroit's Forgotten Pioneers: The Early NFL Teams Before the Lions


Detroit, the bustling hub of the American Midwest, is synonymous with many things — music, automobiles, and, of course, sports. While the Detroit Lions have been the city's National Football League (NFL) standard-bearers for decades, few remember the earlier teams that paved the way in the league's nascent years. Before the roar of the Lions echoed throughout the Motor City, four other Detroit teams played their part in the NFL's history.

The Detroit Heralds stand out as one of the city's earliest representatives in professional football. Established in 1905, they played as an independent team for several years before joining the American Professional Football Association (APFA), the precursor to the NFL, in 1920. During their time in the APFA, the Heralds showcased their skill and passion for the game, setting the stage for Detroit's future in professional football.

In 1921, the Heralds evolved into the Detroit Tigers. This transition continued Detroit's representation in the newly renamed NFL. However, the Tigers' time in the league was fleeting. They faced financial constraints and other challenges expected in the early days of professional football, leading them to fold midseason. But the Tigers' legacy didn't end there. Their roster found a new home with the Buffalo All-Americans, further entwining Detroit's early football history with other pioneering teams.

Though the story of the Heralds and the Tigers may be short, it is a testament to Detroit's rich football lineage. Remembering and celebrating these early teams that paved the way for the city's NFL future is essential. They might not have the same recognition or lasting power as the Detroit Lions, but they were the trailblazers, setting down the initial foundations in a city that would come to be known for its sporting prowess.

While the Detroit Lions have become the face of the NFL in the Motor City, it's crucial to look back and honor the Detroit Heralds, Tigers, and other early teams that laid the groundwork. They serve as a reminder of the city's deep-rooted love for football and its long-standing tradition in the NFL's storied history.



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