This Year’s Lineup for Thanksgiving Football


The Minnesota Vikings take on the Detroit Lions, and the San Diego Chargers face the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day, 2017. Although this is not a surprise, football on Thanksgiving has been a tradition for many Americans for over 100 years.

Many know that the Cowboys and Lions play every day on Turkey Day. In fact, both teams have played on Thanksgiving for over 50 years.

The Lions stated their tradition in 1934 in an attempt to increase ticket sales, being that most football goers would have the day off from work. The Lions lost that year against the Chicago Bears, but that didn’t stop them from hosting every year since, with a few exceptions during World War II.

The Cowboys started hosting annually in 1978, and all but two years since 1966 due to not making the playoffs. In 1966, Cowboys general manager, Tex Schramm, decided to piggyback off the Lions’ tradition, facing much scrutiny due to hosting a midweek game. The Cowboys beat the Cleveland Browns that year 26-14. Sports Illustrated reports that 80,259 fans were in attendance. It will be the Cowboys 50th anniversary of hosting the game this year.

Since 2006, a third NFL Thanksgiving game has been played at night. The third game has no fixed teams or conference restrictions. This year, the Washington Redskins take on the New York Giants.

Although the Lions and Cowboys started this NFL tradition, football being played on turkey day started years before the NFL was even a thought.

The first recorded American football game that was played on Thanksgiving dates back to 1876. The New-York Tribune published, “A game of football will be played between the Yale and Princeton clubs as the St. George’s Grounds, Hoboken, on Thanksgiving Day, at 2 p.m.”

Hundreds of high schools across the United States will hold their annual Turkey bowls. There will be nearly 50 Thanksgiving Day games in Connecticut alone. Ansonia vs. Naugatuck will be facing off for the 118th consecutive Thanksgiving game and Shelton vs. Derby will play their annual game on Thursday for the 114th year.

The Vikings vs. Lions game will be shown at 12:30 PM on FOX. The Chargers vs. Cowboys game will be shown at 4:30 PM on CBS. The Giants vs. Redskins game will be shown at 8:30 PM on NBC.