As America grinds to a halt on Thursday and celebrates the annual Thanksgiving Day holiday, the NFL and certain NFL teams have become as much a part of the tradition as turkey dinners and afternoon naps on a full stomach.
The NFL has played on Thanksgiving Day since the league was born in 1920, but Thanksgiving games became an every-year tradition from 1934 when then-Detroit Lions owner George A. Richards set up a matchup against the Chicago Bears to boost flagging attendances.
The Lions traditionally play at home on Thanksgiving Day and will take part in their 80th Thanksgiving game on the holiday this week when – fittingly – they take on the Bears. The Lions have a won-lost record of 37-41-2 on Thanksgiving.
In the 1960s, the NFL was looking for another team to commit to Thanksgiving Day games but few were interested in a matchup during the late afternoon slot could not guarantee television viewing figures as America settled down to its holiday dinner.
But Dallas Cowboys general manager Tex Schramm believed such publicity would be good for a team struggling under head coach Tom Landry. The Cowboys began playing on Thanksgiving Day in 1966 and enjoyed such success – on the field and at the gate – that they are still known today as ‘America’s Team.’
A third game was added to the Thanksgiving slate in 2006 and can feature any other teams from around the league. In both 2018 and 2019, the Saints and Falcons faced off in a Thanksgiving matchup to complete the triple-header.
2020 Thanksgiving Day Games – All available LIVE on Sky Sports Action and NFL Game Pass from 5:30pm for just 99p
5.30pm Houston Texans at Detroit Lions
9.30pm Washington Football Team at Dallas Cowboys
1.30am Baltimore Ravens at Atlanta Falcons
UK fans can watch 14 games LIVE this Thanksgiving Week for just 99p via NFL Game Pass.
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