History of NFL Thanksgiving tradition

By Raymond Lo

Staff Writer

The well-known National Football League Thanksgiving tradition has been played for 81 years between the Chicago Bears and the Detroit Lions. The tradition started in 1934 when George A. Richards, the former owner of the Lions, scheduled a game against the Bears on Thanksgiving Day.

Richards knew the risks of scheduling a game on Thanksgiving Day. Most NFL fans would probably not attend or listen to the game on the radio due to the tradition of a family dinner on the national holiday. Fortunately, the vast amounts of people that attended the game inspired the tradition that still continues today.

This year, the Thanksgiving Day games will have the Lions hosting their division rivals the Minnesota Vikings, in the first game of the day on November 24.

Starting in 1966, the Dallas Cowboys decided to join the tradition to increase their team popularity and to encourage football as part of the Thanksgiving Day events. Despite the Dallas Cowboys not being very popular at this time, up to 80,259 people arrived to the Cotton Bowl stadium on Thanksgiving day out of the 92,100 available seats.

The Cowboys will host the Washington Redskins, another one of the top rivalry games, at 1:30 p.m.

In 2006, a third game was added to the Thanksgiving Day games to enhance the tradition and to give fans more entertainment and more football. This year the third game is the one being most looked forward to by fans because a win for the Steelers could mean a first place spot in the AFC North and a win for the Colts could also bring them to a first place spot in their division, the AFC South.

The Indianapolis Colts will host the Pittsburgh Steelers for the last game of Thanksgiving, wrapping up all the games. This year will be the first in which the Colts will have hosted a game for the holiday.

The game between the Indianapolis Colts and the Pittsburgh Steelers will be one of the most intense games on the NFL 2016 schedule.

Despite all of the excitement surrounding the annual games, this tradition used to hold more of an importance because the NFL used to only play on Sundays and Mondays making a Thursday Thanksgiving game something special. Now that games are held on Thursday, the tradition has lost some value to fans. However, football on a national holiday is still something fans look forward to.

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