1934 : Detroit Lions Play First Night Game

October 21, 2021 all-day

There’s nothing like Monday night football in downtown Detroit.

The parties. The tailgating. The excitement.

Whether at Ford Field, the Pontiac Silverdome, or Tiger Stadium, the Lions have a long history of hosting evening pigskin.

It did not all begin, however, with the long-running Monday Night Football that debuted in 1970. For years before that, the NFL played occasional Monday night games, several of them in the Motor City.

You may even be surprised to know that the Lions were the first National Football League team ever to play on Monday night.

It was October 21, 1934. The Lions were in their first year in Detroit since moving from Portsmouth, Ohio. They had played five games so far that season, and had yet to lose. In fact, they had yet to give up any points, having outscored the opposition 52-0.

The Lions originally were scheduled to welcome the Brooklyn football Dodgers the day before. But inclement weather made conditions miserable, and Lions’ owner W.J. Richards decided to postpone the contest until Monday. Rather than play during the afternoon, when everybody would be at work, Richards opted for an 8:15 PM start time. In those days, the team played at old University of Detroit Stadium, which supposedly boasted one of the better lighting systems in all of sports. Detroit won, 28-0, in front of roughly 11,000 folks, which was a typical Lions home draw for that season.

The Lions went on to win their first ten games, including the first seven by shutout. But it all proved for naught as they lost their final three, finishing in second place in the NFL’s Western Division, behind undefeated Chicago. There would be no postseason football in Detroit that first year.

For the full article, see Scott Ferkovitch, “The Lions hosted the first Monday Night Football Game in NFL history“, Michigan Athletic Company Blog, December 20, 2016.

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