NFL on Thanksgiving Day
The NFL’s Thanksgiving Day games have traditionally included one game hosted by the Detroit Lions since 1934. In 1966, the Dallas Cowboys adopted the practice of hosting Thanksgiving games as a condition of their very first NFL game. In the 1990s, the New England Patriots and New York Jets also played Thanksgiving games. The NFL has no fixed host and features different teams annually; the prime-time game has been contested almost solely by division rivals since 2012.
About NFL on Thanksgiving Day in brief
The NFL’s Thanksgiving Day games have traditionally included one game hosted by the Detroit Lions since 1934. Since 2006, a third prime time game has also been played on Thanksgiving. In some areas, most commonly in New England, high-school teams play on Thanksgiving, usually to wrap-up the regular-season. In 1966, the Dallas Cowboys, who had been founded six years earlier, adopted the practice of hosting Thanksgiving games as a condition of their very first NFL game. In 1975 and 1977, the Packers began a thirteen-season run as the perpetual opponent to the Lions each year through 1963. During the Franksgiving controversy in 1939 and 1940, the only two teams to play the game were the Pittsburgh Steelers and Philadelphia Eagles, as both teams were in the same state. Because of the looming World War II and the resulting shorter seasons, the NFL did not schedule any Thanksgiving games in 1941, nor did it schedule any in the subsequent years until the war ended in 1945. When the Thanksgiving games resumed in 1945, only the Lions’ annual home game would remain on the Thanksgiving holiday. The Lions’ first owner of the Lions, George A. Richards, started the tradition of the Thanksgiving Day game as a gimmick to get people to go to Lions football games, and to continue a tradition begun by the city’s previous NFL teams. In 1902, the National Football League attempted to settle its championship over Thanksgiving weekend; after the game ended in a tie, eventually all three teams in the league claimed to have won the title. Several other NFL teams played regularly on Thanksgiving in the first eighteen years of the league, including the Chicago Bears and Chicago Cardinals, Frankford Yellow Jackets, Pottsville Maroons, Buffalo All-Americans, Canton Bulldogs, and the New York Giants.
The All-America Football Conference and American Football League, both of which would later be absorbed into the NFL, also held Thanksgiving games, although neither of those leagues had permanent hosts. In 1926, the AFL of 1926 hosted two games in its lone season of existence, which featured a future NFL team, the Cleveland Rams, and the 1940–41 incarnation of the American football League, which played two games on the earlier date. In the 1990s, the New England Patriots and New York Jets also played Thanksgiving games. The NFL has no fixed host and features different teams annually; the prime-time game has been contested almost solely by division rivals since 2012. It is widely rumored that the Cowboys sought a guarantee that they would regularly host Thanksgiving games on that day, but this is only partly true; Dallas had decided to host games on Thanksgiving by their own decision in 1966. The first pro–am team was the Allegheny Athletic Association of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In 1905 and 1906 the Latrobe Athletic Association and Cantons Bulldogs, considered at the time to be two of the best teams in professional football, played on November 23. In 1919, a Thanksgiving matchup between the Buffalo Prospects and the Rochester Jeffersons led to a scoreless tie, leading to a rematch the next Sunday for the league championship.