The first broadcast Thanksgiving Day football game was held at the University of Detroit Stadium in 1934, pitting the Detroit Lions against the Chicago Bears and establishing a new tradition. The game was part of a three-game series between the Lions, who were then known as the Detroit Tigers, and the Bears, who had no connection to the current Chicago Bears team. The inaugural Thanksgiving Day game resulted in a 7–7 tie between the two undefeated teams.
The NFL adopted its current schedule formula in 1936, so each team now plays on either side of Thanksgiving Day from '35 through '40. From 1941 to '44, however, many games were not played due to World War II.
In 1945, the Redskins hosted their first Thanksgiving Day game against the Philadelphia Eagles. Washington won, 33–14, and have since dominated the holiday with a record of 10–4.–Encyclopedia of American Football.
Thanksgiving Day football has become a major event on the sports calendar, with both college and professional teams participating. It's been played every year except for 1944 when most military bases closed because of wartime regulations.
Lions of Detroit The Thanksgiving Day tradition of the Detroit Lions earned national notice in another way, beginning with the inaugural game in 1934. Before then, most teams had refused to play on what was then known as "Christmas Day." But the Lions played a game against the Chicago Bears at Detroit's new Pontiac Stadium. In that first season, the home team won every match-up.
The day before Thanksgiving is now recognized as its own holiday, called “Black Friday” because it used to be the day retailers opened their doors for business. That tradition began in Boston, Massachusetts, when shoppers lined up outside stores at midnight on November 28, 1965, to be the first to get a price checker tape decks for Christmas.
Today, retailers across the country open their doors at dawn on Thanksgiving Day - the earliest they have ever opened - to beat the crowds and offer special promotions that won't last long.
In addition to shopping, people also eat a large meal consisting of turkey and all the trimmings. This ancient European festival has been adopted by Americans over time, which doesn't surprise me considering how much we use foreign cultures as inspiration for our own practices.
In 1876, the Intercollegiate Football Association championship game was played on Thanksgiving. The game and the holiday were so intertwined that the New York Herald declared Thanksgiving the official holiday for football viewing in 1893. In 1920, the NFL held its inaugural game on Thanksgiving. It has been played on that day ever since.
The connection between football and Thanksgiving is not just historical. Many players and coaches still find time to give thanks before each game. "It's not a religious thing," said Nebraska coach Bo Pelini. "But we try to say something about what we're thankful for."
Pelini went on to say that everyone needs inspiration from time to time, especially coaches who may be losing games badly. He then asked what we are all thankful for this year. I'm sure you can think of many things you are grateful for.
Thanksgiving has always been a cultural phenomenon within the United States. It is estimated that more than 50 million people take part in some type of food festival or dinner celebration. This makes Thanksgiving one of the largest gatherings of people in the world!
Even though it is a commercial holiday, it is also considered an unofficial national holiday. That means that most government offices are closed on Thanksgiving Day. Also, stores and restaurants are open late on Thanksgiving night.
At University of Detroit Stadium, the Detroit Lions faced the Chicago Bears. The Detroit game was played in front of 26,000 people and was carried on NBC radio stations throughout the country. Since then, the Lions have continued that tradition by playing every Thanksgiving (except from 1939 and 1944 during World War 2).
The Lions won that first game 27-7. Although no records have been found, it's believed that the players and coaches for both teams ate together before the game with all of the profits going to charity. This is considered the first official Thanksgiving Day football game.
Thanksgiving has become one of the biggest holidays for football. Each year on Thursday, November 25th, the NFL hosts its own games featuring the champions from the previous season. These are called "Divisional Playoffs" and the winners go on to play in the Super Bowl.
In addition to the Divisional Playoff games, there are other games being played on Thanksgiving Day across the country. Some are professional, others not so much. But they all mean something to their respective communities or franchises.
There have been many changes to Thanksgiving over time. It wasn't until 1970 that President Nixon declared Thanksgiving a national holiday. Prior to this change, states had the power to decide what role if any they wanted to give thanks in.
Since 1970, other new traditions have emerged on Thanksgiving.
The Detroit Lions have typically hosted one Thanksgiving Day game since 1934, while the Dallas Cowboys have hosted one since 1966. (with two exceptions in 1975 and 1977). The Lions won both games during their inaugural season in 1934 24-14 over Pittsburgh and 6-3 over Cleveland, respectively.
In addition to these two games, Thanksgiving Day matchups have also been scheduled by the NFL between 1934 and 1940. However, due to a lack of interest from fans or money from sponsors, these games did not become annual events. The last scheduled Thanksgiving Day game was played in 1939 between the Chicago Bears and Philadelphia Eagles. However, due to World War II that year, it was canceled and will never be played again.
Since then, no other team has played on Thanksgiving Day except for the Lions in 1994 and 1995. These games were made possible by the American Football League's New York Jets agreeing to play the Lions on this day after the NFL refused to schedule any games on Thanksgiving in order to keep competitive balance even though the Lions had no intention of playing in either game. The Jets lost both games 0-9.
Also since 1979, when the NFL began scheduling four regular season games per week, most teams have declined to participate on Thanksgiving, with only a few exceptions.
A third prime-time game has been played on Thanksgiving since 2006.
Thanksgiving Day football is an American tradition that dates back to 1894, when the first game was played between Harvard and Yale. The tradition came to an end for many years but it returned in 1933 when the Detroit Lions played their first game as a franchise. Since then, all but three games have been played on Thanksgiving Day.
The last non-Thanksgiving day game was played in 1962 when the Chicago Bears lost to the San Francisco 49ers by a score of 40-0. The 1963 season started on Thursday because President Kennedy had been assassinated earlier that year.
In 1994, the NFL decided to move its holiday weekend up one week so that it would be celebrated on Wednesday instead of Thursday. The change was made to give players more time with their families over the holiday period.
Since 2000, all playoff games have been played on Thanksgiving Day. Previously, only divisional round games were played on Turkey Day, while all other postseason games took place on different days in December or January.
The 2011 season was the first without a traditional Thanksgiving Day game since 1978.