In this installment of 100 Days, 100 Detroit Lions, we honor a fella who went by the name of “Tarzan,” who began his career with the original incarnation of the Lions, when they were known as the Portsmouth (OH) Spartans.
40. George “Tarzan” Christensen
Tackle / Guard. 1931-33 Portsmouth; 1934-38 Detroit
The Portsmouth Spartan / Detroit Lion team of the 1930’s possessed one of the most dominant ground attacks in NFL history. One of the main reasons for that dominance was the stellar play of their All-Pro lineman George Christensen. In 1936 the Lions, led by the blocking of Christensen and fellow all-pro linemate Gover “Ox” Emerson, set an NFL team rushing record of 2,885 yards, a mark which stood for 36 years. The 6-foot-2, 238 pound Christensen played his college ball at the University of Oregon and joined the franchise in 1931 when it was still known as the Portsmouth Spartans. In the days of the two-way performer and 25 man rosters, the Lion known by his teammates as “Tarzan” was one of the most respected lineman in the entire NFL.
George was part of the Lions’ 1935 NFL championship squad, and was also on the field during the Portsmouth Spartans’ legendary 1932 tiebreaker-playoff versus the Chicago Bears. During Tarzan’s career, his teams compiled a combined record of 62-28-6. George was named to the NFL All-Pro Team five times from 1931-1936, earning first-team honors in 1931 and ‘34, and second-team selections in 1932, ‘35, and ‘36.