AROUND THE NFL

The History of Thanksgiving Day Football: More Than Just a Game

Thanksgiving and football go together like peanut butter and jelly. Whether one watches or plays the game, football is a reason that people look forward to the holiday.

Photo Courtesy of "Newsweek"

Happy Thanksgiving! Enjoy this wonderful day with your family, friends, or whoever you are celebrating with.

While eating a big meal is largely the highlight of Thanksgiving Day, one annual traditional is a slate of three NFL games. The Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys always play on Thanksgiving, with a third game being chosen randomly.

Why do the Lions and Cowboys always play on Thanksgiving? The Lions, specifically, were a young NFL franchise who started out as the Portsmouth (Ohio) Spartans in 1929, with George A. Richards trying to find ways to build a following for the Lions.

The Detroit Tigers, while not the most successful of teams present-day, used to be one of baseball’s best. They used to be the team to see in Detroit, going 101-53 to win the 1934 American League pennant.

Richards came up with the idea: why not play on Thanksgiving? His thought was that it is a national holiday, and a lot of people will be looking to do things on Thanksgiving Day besides the dinner feast.

This turned out to be a success, as the Lions sold out their 26,000-seat stadium, even having to turn away fans at the gate. The Lions beat the then-undefeated Bears, took the NFL’s Western Division crown, and the rest is history.

The Dallas Cowboys did not start playing on Thanksgiving until 1966, but they were a huge hit as well. While they might be known as America’s team today, they were not nearly as popular back in the 20th century. Then-Cowboys general manager Tex Schramm saw the opportunity to play on Thanksgiving as a popularity boost.

The Cowboys broke their attendance record at the Cotton Bowl on Thanksgiving Day in 1966, packing 80,259 into the stadium as the Cowboys beat the Cleveland Browns, 26-14. Since this day, the Cowboys have only missed turkey day football twice.

Today, the Lions host the Chicago Bears at 12:30 pm, the Cowboys host the Buffalo Bills at 4:30, and the Atlanta Falcons host the New Orleans Saints at 8:20.

Happy Thanksgiving. Be thankful not only today, but every day.

Comments Box SVG iconsUsed for the like, share, comment, and reaction icons

12 hours ago

BIGPLAY

LIVE talking NFL w/ @ChrisGronkowski! Come talk Browns, Baker Mayfield, and more! ... See MoreSee Less

12 hours ago

BIGPLAY

LIVE talking NFL w/ @ChrisGronkowski! Come talk Browns, Baker Mayfield, and more! ... See MoreSee Less

2 days ago

BIGPLAY

An Identity Crisis (E169) - #Ravens | #nflpredictions | #terps | Rundown

Sign up for MY BOOKIE using this link with PROMO CODE BIRDLANDBS for DOUBLE your deposit up to $1,000!!!
bit.ly/MB_BIRDLANDBS
... See MoreSee Less

2 days ago

BIGPLAY

LIVE talking 4-2 #Browns w/ @LindseyBaseball! Grab a beer, take a deep breath and regroup with us. Presented by @Shacknews! ... See MoreSee Less

Comment on Facebook

Davey Mac has a some boxing winnings!! Bigger Turkey

lol yeah he does

Thanks guys!!!!

View more comments

3 days ago

BIGPLAY

IS BAKER MAYFIELD THE GUY? - THE YACHT CLUB

Tons to cover. Tune in now!
... See MoreSee Less

4 days ago

BIGPLAY

Same old Browns?

We thought the Browns turned the page, have they really?
... See MoreSee Less

Comment on Facebook

Just think if the browns would have taken Josh Allen

Who have they beat?

It’s bad play calling it’s bad execution. Nick it’s 3 years of baker still not settling in and playing his game

After this year if baker doesn’t prove himself. Would you rather see the browns let him go and find a new QB in the draft?

Nick, you’re the only browns fan that I love❤️ next game will be PSU vs OSU❤️

View more comments

7 days ago

BIGPLAY

Myles Returns to Steeler Nation

Come hangout with @NickPedone12 and get ready for Browns vs. Steelers! Talking Le'Veon Bell, NFL, and more!
... See MoreSee Less

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

To Top