Traditions in sports
From the Kentucky Derby hat parade to Thanksgiving football games, take a look at some of the best traditions in sports.
But that doesn’t mean the Lions will be knocked off their Thanksgiving perch anytime soon. The league — or most of it — appears to value the tradition that goes along with having the Lions and Cowboys play on Thanksgiving.
The Lions’ involvement in the high profile game remains a subject of debate among the league’s power brokers, however. It could be an issue at the NFL’s owners meetings in the offseason.
Snatching the game away from Detroit now might seem insensitive, considering how hard the town has been hit by the country’s economic downturn. Another factor is the league might not want to alienate Lions owner William Clay Ford Sr., the former CEO of Ford Motor Company — which is an NFL sponsor.
For awhile, the late Lamar Hunt would consistently lobby to spread the Thanksgiving games around to other teams. But the NFL came up with a solution three years ago by adding a third game on Thanksgiving night in which any teams can play.
And truth be told, most teams don’t want to play on Thanksgiving. The Lions and Cowboys love it because they are comfortable with the schedule disruption and almost look at it as their advantage. But most other teams look at it as an inconvenience.
“Playing on a Thursday after playing on a Sunday is hard,” one NFC general manager said. “Your team usually is beat up, the preparation is limited and you typically don’t have one of your better performances. I wouldn’t mind not playing in that game ever.”
You could argue that the TV ratings would be better if the Saints and Patriots were playing on Thanksgiving afternoon. But then again, the TV ratings would be worse if the Lions and Packers were playing next Monday night.
And just because the Lions have been in little a dry spell, does not mean they will stay there. The league is set up to help teams like the Lions. If their new management team clicks, the Lions could become a marquee team in short order.
The Cowboys have been playing on Thanksgiving since 1966, and have only missed twice — in 1975 and ’77. There is less noise about taking their Thanksgiving game away because they are typically the league’s No. 1 television draw.
And what do you know, the game sold out two weeks in advance. It was such a success, Richards decided to try it again the next year, and the Lions clinched the West division on Thanksgiving in 1935.
With the exception of the six years between 1939 and 1944, the Lions have played on every Thanksgiving Day since.
And for many of those years, there has been a fine window of opportunity to catch a few zzzzs somewhere between the hours of 12:30 and 3:30 eastern.
CSN: The Super Bowl's golden anniversary will be held in the Golden State. The new stadium, which opens in 2014, in Santa Clara will host Super Bowl L two years later, the NFL announced Tuesday.
2013 SNF Schedule
Check out the 2013 Sunday Night Football schedule.
Latest from ProFootballTalk
Video: Football from NBC Sports
Check out some of the NFL cheerleaders from across the league.