nfl thanksgiving games history

When you think of Thanksgiving today, football is on the short list of holiday staples. 

Watching the NFL is right there with being with family, carving the turkey, and slicing the pumpkin pie when it comes to traditions on this special holiday in November each year.

While it may seem like the NFL and Thanksgiving have always gone together, that’s not exactly the case. 

The NFL began in 1920, but the first Thanksgiving game didn’t occur until 14 years later.

Here’s everything you need to know about the history and origins of this holiday tradition:

When did the NFL start playing games on Thanksgiving? The every-year tradition of playing football on Thanksgiving, NFL style, 

dates back to 1934 when the Detroit Spartans hosted the World Champion Chicago Bears.

What NFL teams always play on Thanksgiving? The Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys traditionally always play on Thanksgiving.

The Lions have been playing on the holiday dating back to 1934, while the Cowboys have been since 1966.

Has every NFL team played on Thanksgiving? Every team has played on Thanksgiving except for the Jacksonville Jaguars.


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