Thanksgiving Football Tradition

Turkey Day Football Trash Talk

Here it is already, Thanksgiving. This will likely be my only shot to tell you folks thank you, and so I do. Each and every one of you who have the passion, and take the time out of your lives to spend some of it here at Emptywheel.

Thank you.

Football on Thanksgiving is a tradition going back further than even pro football:

Football games, being played on Thanksgiving Day, date back to 1876. When Yale and Princeton began an annual tradition of playing each other on Thanksgiving Day. The University of Michigan also made it a tradition to play annual Thanksgiving games, holding 19 such games from 1885 to 1905. The Thanksgiving Day games between Michigan and the Chicago Maroons in the 1890s have been cited as “The Beginning of Thanksgiving Day Football.

But the tradition with the Detroit Lions started in 1934 when a chap by the name of George A. Richards bought the Portsmouth, Ohio football team known as the Lions and moved them to Detroit to join the still fledgling NFL:

As a marketing ploy to drum up attendance at the new team’s games, then Lions’ owner, George A. Richards, arranged for the team to host the Chicago Bears in the University of Detroit Stadium on Thanksgiving Day. Richards also arranged for the game to be televised nationally via NBC.

In spite of the fact the Lions lost that first Thanksgiving-Day game to the Bears, the holiday game was such a success that Detroit continues to host it to this day; the Thanksgiving Day game in 2012 will mark the Lions’ 73rd. For the first five years, the Chicago Bears provided the competition to the Lions on Turkey Day. In the 1950s and 60s, Green Bay was the team that gave the Lions their holiday match. Over the years, however, the Lions have played most of the teams in the league on one Thanksgiving Day or another.

And this year the triple header of NFL Thanksgiving games starts out with the original, the home game in Detroit. Today the Kittehs host the mighty Houston Texans. The Texans come in 9-1 and →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

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