February 25, 2024

Thanksgiving in the NFL — and the Detroit-Dallas story

At the end of November every year, families and friends in the United States of America gather to celebrate Thanksgiving. There’s one thing you definitely won’t miss: the food and football in front of the tap box. Following this celebration, the league is also pursuing something completely new.

Worldwide popular and established in the USA for decades: Thanksgiving in the National Football League.
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On the fourth Thursday of November every year, it’s that time: The United States of America celebrates the National Day of Thanksgiving, when families and friends travel across the country and spend their holidays together. As is the case every year in many places, a huge feast is served on the table – and America’s favorite sport is played at Flimmerkiste from morning to night.

Thanksgiving has been a special holiday in North America since 1863 – and it’s also a very special day in American football. The first two games have always been played in Detroit and Dallas for many years, and the third game, played only annually since 2006, takes place between two ever-changing teams. So a full three-course football meal is on the agenda.

It starts at 6:30pm (CET) with the comparison between the Detroit Lions, who have been on the rise for some time and who started the regular season 8-2 for the first time since 1962 (!) and this year in the NFC Stay North, hosting Green Bay Packers (4-6). The mandatory home game begins at 10:30 PM (CET) for the Dallas Cowboys (7-3), which awaits the Washington Commanders (4-7), who are currently trailing in their playoff hopes. Tonight from Thursday to Friday (2:20 a.m.) there will be another real event: an NFC West showdown between the recently narrowly defeated Seattle Seahawks (6-4) and the Saints, who are strong again after falling behind (three straight losses). .Francisco 49ers (7-3) are coming.

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A little note: one day after Thanksgiving, “Black Friday” takes place in modern America and around the world – where people look for discounts online or in stores. To this end, the NFL is also hosting football entertainment for the first time in the form of the first “Black Friday Game” between the New York Jets (4:6) and the Miami Dolphins (7:3), which takes place on Friday evening (9 p.m. CET).

Tradition – for the benefit of two teams

But the big question when it comes to the Thanksgiving triple-action year after year in the NFL: Why are Detroit and Dallas always allowed to perform in front of their home fans, so they don’t have to travel far and can? So we’re talking about an image thing in a ball circus. American foot?

Smart businessman


Detroit Story: It may not be known in this country that the Lions have been allowed to play a home game on this American holiday for several decades (!). On the other hand, in the USA, this topic is ubiquitous – and sometimes causes anger among other teams. Ultimately, each franchise wants to capitalize on the higher ratings, exclusive TV slot, and increased attention that comes with it. But the old German proverb fits this: first come, first served! The Lions were the first team to come up and roll on Thanksgiving in a long time.

Detroit Lions

Firmly entrenched on Thanksgiving: Detroit Lions.
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The Lions were founded in Portsmouth in 1929 as the Spartans. George Richards, former manager of radio station World Junior Records (WJR), brought the band to the big city of Detroit soon afterward.

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In order to attract more and more fans, the owner ordered that football be played on Thanksgiving Day 1934. Here potential supporters finally get a vacation and can spend time and money on their football team. The plan worked: Because clever manager Richards was part of the “NBC Blue Network” with his radio station, he had the Chiefs broadcast Game 1 (a 16:19 defeat to Chicago) on 94 stations nationwide.

And while success from a purely athletic perspective cannot be defined for the Lions in all the years since (a manageable record of 37:44:2, most recently a narrow 25:28 against the Buffalo Bills in 2022), it is clear: Detroit has Significant improvement contributed to the fact that Thanksgiving is a football holiday with loved ones for countless Americans.

For the NFL itself, the Lions’ move and the measures taken also turned out to be very successful in the past, as they were finally able to create a team in the “Motor City” on the fifth attempt. Detroit also captured its first NFL title in 1935 – the same year the Detroit Tigers won their first World Series and shortly before the Detroit Red Wings won two consecutive Stanley Cups (1936, 1937).

The Cowboys get second place

Tom Landry

Thanks to Thanksgiving, the Dallas Cowboys are as big as they are today: the legendary Tom Landry.
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Dallas Story: The Proud Cowboys were allowed to compete on Thanksgiving for the first time in 1966, before the action became regular from 1978 and continues to this day. As with the Lions, the Texans’ creators were hoping to burnish their image with this special holiday look. It’s all said and done – and once again, there are clever planners at work here. Because the franchise had established itself at that time under the leadership of legendary coach Tom Landry, who coached between 1960 and 1988 and led the Cowboys to the Super Bowl in 1971/72 (24:3 vs. Miami) and 1977/78 (27:10 vs. Miami-Denver). – He led the victory. “Team USA” was born. Then-general manager Tex Schramm contributed greatly to the marketing success during this time – among other things, he founded the “Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.”

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The Thanksgiving record for Dallas, commonly referred to as “America’s Team” due to the large number of fans these days and a 28:20 win against the New York Giants last year, looks like this: 32 wins, 22 losses, one tie. .

Game number 3


Briefly: Since 1934, the Lions have played their first home game on Thanksgiving on a regular basis, before Dallas has always followed Detroit with a game in front of its home fans since 1978. However, in order to allow the other 32 NFL teams to enjoy the experience, the league is holding a flexible third duel Always since 2006 (this time Seahawks vs. 49ers). The added benefit of this: more than six hours of football entertainment becomes more than nine hours – and the US Thanksgiving holiday is now in the hands of football in the media, which of course generates huge profits for the NFL. Especially since many businesses can also place a lot of ads for the upcoming Black Friday as well as the subsequent Cyber ​​Monday.

The most played Thanksgiving Day duels in history are the Lions vs. Packers (21 games so far, Detroit’s record with 12-8-1) and the Lions vs. Packers. Bears (so far 20 games, record for Chicago with 12-8).