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Thanksgiving Football Conversations

Thanksgiving should conjure up feelings of gratitude as we reflect on our blessings. For many people, however, the holiday creates feelings of dread and worry. Why? Simply put, many people don’t look forward to spending time with family. From differences to politics and religion to basic personality conflicts, Thanksgiving can unfortunately be a time of counting the hours to a graceful exit. Let the National Football League with its three games rescue you from an uneasy and stress filled day. With a little background knowledge about the games, you can try to connect with people you never thought you could.
Thanksgiving Began in 1934
Of course, we all know that the first Thanksgiving feast took place in 1621 in Massachusetts. But for football fans, it really started in 1934 in the middle of the Great Depression.
New Lions owner, George A. “Dick” Richards had bought the team and moved them from Portsmouth, Ohio to Detroit. At that time, Detroit’s passions lay with the baseball team, the Tigers. In order to draw more attention to his new team, Richards scheduled a Thanksgiving Day game in 1934 against the Chicago Bears, the defending World Champions. The NBC radio network carried the game on 94 stations across the United States. About 26,000 fans watched the game from the University of Detroit stadium.
The setting was right; the opponent was perfect; and the game was a classic. The hated Bears emerged triumphant with a 19-16 victory. Of course, this set the table for a rematch the next year. This time the hometown Lions won, 14-2. The tradition was born. Detroit has hosted a Thanksgiving game every year except for a period between 1939-1944 which was during World War II.
Over the years there have been many classic games. One of them was in 1980. The dreaded Bears had clawed their way back into the game on the final play. With the scored tied 17-17 and the game headed into overtime, most fans prepared themselves for a few more minutes of football and hopefully a Lion victory. After all, overtime games (where the team which scores first wins) never ended after just one play. The Bears did just that. They took the opening kickoff and scored. This ended the overtime after just 21 seconds. Lions fans went home stunned.
While some have suggested that the Lions lose their tradition of playing on Thanksgiving due to years of futility, one must remember that the Lions used to be the toast of the NFL. It was one of the league’s elite teams. They may regain this position in time.
The Cowboys–America’s Team Meets America’s Holiday
The Dallas Cowboys began their turkey day tradition in 1966. With an inaugural victory over a quality Cleveland Browns team, the Cowboys have enjoyed amazing success. They have appeared in 8 Super Bowls and have won 5 of them. Unlike the Lions of recent years, the Cowboys garner more wins than losses.
One of the most memorable Cowboy Thanksgiving Day games centers around a little known quarterback named Clint Longley. In a heated 1974 Thanksgiving Day battle with the Washington Redskins, the Cowboy’s all-star quarterback Roger Staubach left the game with an injury. Backup Clint Longley jogged onto the fied, and most Cowboy hearts sank. The Cowboys would emerge all the more grateful this day, however, as Longley connected with receiver Drew Pearson for a touchdown with less than a minute to play. The Cowboys won, and Longley has gone down in Cowboy history as a hero!
Ready, Set, Talk!
Now that you are empowered with a little information about these games, you can join into the football conversation. Even if you don’t know the latest statistics, football is also about great stories not just good numbers. Here are the games, times, and stations for this year’s games on Thursday, November 23, 2010:
New England Patriots vs. Detroit Lions, 12:30 ET on CBS
New Orleans Saints vs. Dallas Cowboys, 4:15 ET on FOX
(Keith Urban plays at halftime)
Cincinnati Bengals vs. New York Jets, 8:20 ET on NFL network
These games may give you an opportunity to connect with someone you don’t get along with or simply don’t know. Enjoy the food, forget the clock, and hopefully enjoy the games and the company! Happy Thanksgiving

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