Thanksgiving Football

Why Do the Dallas Cowboys & Detroit Lions Always Play on Thanksgiving?

Tomorrow you are likely to do three things:

– Eat too much

– Talk about how you ate too much

– Watch football

When you do the last one, you will surely be watching the Dallas Cowboys or the Detroit Lions. The Lions and Cowboys have become as much of a Thanksgiving tradition as cranberry sauce, stuffing & not caring about cranberry sauce or stuffing for the other 364 days of the year.

How did this tradition start? Why are those two teams always the ones to play on Thanksgiving?

Let’s find out on today’s Wonder Why Wednesday…

Wonder Why Wednesday: Why Do the Dallas Cowboys & Detroit Lions Always Play on Thanksgiving?

Football and Thanksgiving have gone together nearly as long as the game as been around. The first American football game played on the holiday dates back to 1876 when Yale took on Princeton.

The Detroit Lions have not been around quite that long, but as soon as they entered the football picture, they jumped at the opportunity to play on Thanksgiving.

In 1934, the franchise’s first year, owner George A. Richards was doing all he could to keep up with the popularity of the Detroit Tigers. The Tigers had drawn tremendous crowds in rout to a 101 win season and the 1934 American League Pennant.

The Lions on the other hand were struggling to play in front of a packed house, so Richards came up with the idea of playing a game on Thanksgiving. And he chose the perfect opponent for the occasion.

The undefeated and defending NFL champion Chicago Bears rolled into town to take on the one-loss Lions. The winner of the game would be crowned the NFL’s Western Division champs. The Bears won the game, but a tradition was born as the Lions, who sold out their 26,000-seat stadium, loved the extra exposure and have been playing on Thanksgiving ever since.

The Cowboys took note of the Lions’ Thanksgiving game marketing success, and in 1966, decided to create a tradition of their own. General manager Tex Schramm saw the game as a way to drum up some national publicity and it paid off big time.

A record 80,259 filled the Cotton Bowl to watch the Cowboys take down the Cleveland Browns 26-14. Since that 1966 game, Dallas has only missed having a Thanksgiving day game twice.

In the last few years, the NFL has added a third game on Thanksgiving. The teams may vary for that third game, but the Cowboys and Lions have cemented themselves as the main attractions on turkey day.



Sources: Wikipedia & Mental Floss

Photo credit: Wikipedia