Turkey Day Touchdowns: A History of the Tradition


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Thanksgiving Day football with the NFL has been a tradition for nearly a century.

  Playing football on the last Thursday of November each year has been a Thanksgiving tradition for well over a century. Whether highschool athletes scrimmage, NFL staples tussle, or family-forged teams slap on eye black, the gridiron pastime is always a highly anticipated delight. 

  Turkey Day football can’t be broached without mention of the NFL’s role in popularizing the long-standing classic. 

  The birth of Thanksgiving day football began in 1934 with a man named George A. Richards, a Detroit radio executive. He owned the company that purchased the Portsmouth Spartans—a team which he renamed and relocated to Chicago. 

  Richards, intent on elevating ticket sales and strengthening the profile of the revamped Lions, convinced the proprietor of the Chicago Bears, as well as Head Coach George Halas, to play on Thanksgiving Day. 

  As forecasted, ticket sales skyrocketed. The University of Detroit Stadium sold out at 26,000 seats–the largest crowd at the time to watch a game in Detroit. NBC Radio Network’s 94-Station broadcasted the stellar exhibition across the nation–a first for the NFL. 

  As the broadcast reached homes and dinner tables across the nation, the concept of Turkey Day football became wildly popular. Hence, the Lions and the Bears birthed a new tradition. 

  Nearly nine decades have gone by following the landmark match, and Americans have yet to relent on the hearty ritual. The Dallas Cowboys have become a foodstuff thanks to the Texas football fandom which fueled the local need for touchdowns with their turkey. 

  Each year, devotees can count on the cities of Detroit and Dallas to host the long-promised events. The third location for 2021 is the home of the Saints: New Orleans. 

The NFL Thanksgiving Day 2021 schedule is as follows:

Chicago Bears vs Detroir Lions at 12:30 pm

Las Vegas Raiders vs Dallas Cowboys at 4:30 pm

Buffalo Bills vs New Orleans Saints at 8:20 pm

Have a wonderful break Spartans!