Once again this year there will be three NFL football games on Thanksgiving Day.
When I was growing up there was only one and that game always featured the Detroit Lions.
Once again the Lions will be playing tomorrow. Every wonder why they play every Thanksgiving Day?
I got the following information from the web site, associatedcnntent.com – Watching the Detroit Lions play football on Thanksgiving Day is as much a Turkey Day tradition as pumpkin pie, sweet potatoes and, well, turkey. The history and evolution of this beloved NFL and holiday tradition is enormously interesting. Here are 7 fascinating facts about the Detroit Lions’ Thanksgiving Day Game:
1. Before the team came to Detroit, they played four seasons as the Portsmouth (Ohio) Spartans. George A. Richards, owner of local radio station WJR, bought the Spartans in 1934, moved them to Detroit, and changed their name to the Lions. They played on Thanksgiving Day that very first season, and the tradition has continued to the present day.
2. The idea of playing on Thanksgiving Day was a promotional tactic on the part of George A. Richards. Though the Lions inaugural season in the Motor City was successful (their record was 10-1 going into the Thanksgiving Day game), and they were well received, attendance at the games was lackluster – an average of about 12,000 fans showed up to the games at the University of Detroit stadium. Playing on Thanksgiving Day was already an established and successful tradition among high school and college football teams (Detroit’s Eastern High School, for instance, usually played a team from Chicago), so Richards brought the concept to professional football with the hope that it would be successful there as well.
3. In terms of ticket sales, the game was a rousing success. On November 29, 1934, a sellout crowd of about 26,000 fans packed the stadium to watch the defending World Champion Chicago Bears take on the Lions for the Western Division Championship; thousands more disappointed fans were turned away.
4. That first Thanksgiving Day game was also the National Football League’s first radio broadcast. George A. Richards used his influence as a radio executive to strike a deal with NBC radio to broadcast the game on 94 radio stations coast to coast. The illustrious broadcasting team of Graham McNamee and Don Wilson called the play-by-play action.
5. The Bears – led by iconic owner-coach George Halas and legendary player Bronco Nagurski – won the inaugural Thanksgiving Day game 19-16. The Lions, however, beat the Bears in a rematch the following year (1935) and went on to defeat New York for their first NFL championship.
6. Due to World War II, the Thanksgiving Day game was not played between the years 1939-1944.
7. The first televised Thanksgiving Day game took place on November 22, 1956. Detroit’s opponent that day was the Green Bay Packers. The Packers won the game 24-20.
Thanks again to associatedcontent.com for this great inflammation.