The Thanksgiving Football Tradition

Every family has their own Thanksgiving tradition. Eating dinner with the extended family members you see twice a year, watching the Macy’s parade, arguing about current politics, or just exchanging stories from the past. Many American families, however, also turn on the TV to watch the much anticipated Thanksgiving football games.


The first Thanksgiving football game took place in 1920 when the American Football League was created, but two years later became the National Football League that we know today. Ever since then, the annual game has taken place on Thanksgiving.


Starting in 1934, the Detroit Lions have hosted a game on Thanksgiving every year, later followed by the Dallas Cowboys, which began their yearly games in 1966. A third game takes place during prime time but does not have a specific hosting team.


Some networks provided Thanksgiving-themed awards for players, such as CBS’s “Turkey Leg Award” from 1989-1994, but carried on at FOX until it was retired in 2001. The game’s most valuable player was given a cooked turkey leg, which they then took a celebratory bite out of.


FOX later added an award in 2002 called the “Galloping Gobbler,” taking the form of a turkey in a football helmet posing similar to that of the Heisman Trophy, but was also retired in 2017 and replaced by a simple plaque dubbed the “Game Ball”.


This year will be no different from those in the past. As per tradition, the Lions will be hosting the Bears, while the Cowboys will be hosting the Bills. For a total of three games on this day of thanks, football fans will have plenty to watch from midday to the late evening.


The matchups for Thanksgiving 2019 are as follows:

  • Chicago Bears vs. Detroit Lions at 12:30 pm on FOX

  • Buffalo Bills vs. Dallas Cowboys at 4:30 pm on CBS

  • New Orleans Saints vs. Atlanta Falcons 8:20 pm on NBC

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