On the west coast, it’s 10am on Thanksgiving Day, slippers on, recliner mobilized, remote control in hand and I turn on the tube to find the Detroit Lions playing the Packers. Too early for turkey but not for this lovely tradition that is older than I am. In fact, the Detroit franchise has played on Thanksgiving since 1934. On the west coast, we always got the Lions game first followed by Dallas who started playing in 1967. Knowing Cowboy fans, some of those Thanksgiving meals were absolute joy, others caused indigestion.
The early NFL had very humble beginnings and owners tried different things to get fans to attend games. The Lions owner had just moved his team from Ohio so he tried this Thanksgiving game gimmick to capture interest. They played a good Chicago team that day which was broadcasted nationwide. They have since hosted a Thanksgiving game every year since, only to miss six seasons during World War II. Their record is 35-38-2.
Most football fans will never see a Lions game if it were not for the Turkey Bowl. There have been some great football players that have played for the Detroit organization and their chance at national exposure is limited due to Detroit’s post season appearance has not been on the abundant side. I remember seeing one of the greatest running backs of all time, Barry Sanders on Thanksgiving against the Bears. He ran crazy on the Bears that game and scored a few touchdowns. Sanders had a great record on Thanksgiving, 7-3 and ran for over 900 yards, only Emmitt Smith ran for more, over 1100 yards.
Thanksgiving is one day that most of us are Lions fans, except for the opponents fan base and gamblers. This has been a up and down year for the boys in blue, but they have won a couple in row and are going to play the Philadelphia Eagles, one they can win. I may not being eating my turkey dinner at ten in the morning, but the I might start early on the relish tray. Salute Detroit Lions!