Football and Thanksgiving
…and some of the time, family.
–In that order.
Today, we look at “Football.” Football has been tied into the Thanksgiving Holiday as long as there’s been football. The first Thanksgiving NFL game, or one of them, was played way back in 1934 at Detroit, Michigan. The Lions lost to the Bears that day 19-16.
Since then, the Lions have been a mainstay of Thanksgiving Football every year since 1944 without fail. In 1966, the Dallas Cowboys joined the Lions by hosting a Thanksgiving game each year at their home digs.
During the 1960’s, the AFL also hosted its own Thanksgiving game, yielding some very wild and high scoring results. In the AFL games, there was no set venue or designated host team. Instead, any two teams from the AFL played each other on Thanksgiving Day. The most exciting of these was in 1962 when the New York Titans beat the Denver Broncos 46-45.
The Titans are now known as the “New York Jets” and, in a slight twist of synergy, they went to Denver and played the Broncos last Thursday.
Since the NFL merger, the AFL Thanksgiving games ended, but as a compromise, the NFL allows one AFC team to play at either Detroit or Dallas on a rotational basis. This year the AFC team of choice is the Miami Dolphins and they’ll be heading to Cowboys Stadium for Thanksgiving. Next year an AFC team will play in Detroit.
Over the years, other traditions were added to the Thanksgiving Football pageantry. Here’s a look:
The Turducken: Popularized by venerable Color Commentator John Madden, it’s a “turkey stuffed with a duck stuffed with a chicken – the Tur-duc-ken.” Another unusual feature is the magical use of added limbs. A Turducken can have sometimes 5 or 6 legs, which were awarded to the winning team on John Madden Thanksgiving Game Telecasts.
Madden is now retired from football broadcasting, but his strange, one-time fascination with the triple meat bird continues to be referenced today.
The Phil Simms ALL-IRON Award: After each Thanksgiving Game on CBS, Commentator Phil Simms presents his own award, the ALL-IRON award for best performance in the game. He’s a look at the award itself:
On that note I want to wish all of you a great Thanksgiving. May you have a good time with your family and friends and enjoy all of the games, wherever they may be. – Dave in the City
***ON THE “Dave in the City” Podcast: Previews of all three NFL Thanksgiving Games this week, including Packers/Lions, Dolphins/Cowboys, and 49ers/Ravens. Tune in!