Hello everyone and welcome to the Thanksgiving Game Day Thread! I trust that everybody is having a great holiday, and I'm glad that you are taking some time away from family and friends to spend with your favorite SF 49ers blog. Fooch may get a fresh thread up for the later game, but in the mean time feel free to share your thoughts about the early game in this one. Now with the business out of the way, I'd like to talk a little about the history behind football on Thanksgiving.
It is a tradition nearly as old as the sport itself and so ingrained in our national psyche that it's hard to imagine a Thanksgiving without it, but there was indeed a time when Turkey Day did not include pigskin. The earliest record of a professional Thanksgiving day game dates back to 1902 when the National Football League, unrelated to the current NFL, hosted its championship game on the holiday. When two teams from this now defunct NFL migrated over to the modern day NFL in 1920, they brought the Thanksgiving day tradition with them. While the NFL has scheduled games on Thanksgiving since its inception, the Detroit Lions and the Dallas Cowboys were not always the featured teams.
For Detroit the ascent from obscurity to becoming inextricably linked with a national holiday began in 1934. That's the year George Richards, a Detroit radio executive, bought the Portsmouth Ohio Spartans and moved them to Detroit. Unfortunately for Richards, the people of Detroit were too caught up following the Red Wings and Tigers to pay much attention to his football team. So, in an effort to sell tickets and increase interest, Richards scheduled a game against the Chicago Bears. The game was a huge success, as a sell-out crowd and a national radio audience all tuned in for the event. Since that first game in 1934, the Lions have become synonymous with Thanksgiving.
As for the Cowboys, their tradition did not start until 1966. It began when CBS decided to look for an afternoon game to partner with the Lions game. Owners around the league were apprehensive about playing on Thanksgiving, because they feared a drop in their ticket sales. Eventually Ted Schramm, the Cowboys president and general manager, volunteered Dallas on the condition that they would get to host a game every season after that. The league agreed and even guaranteed a minimum gate revenue if the Dallas fans did not show up. Instead the Cowboys set an attendance record with over 80,000 fans filling up the Cotton Bowl to see the game. Now, over 40 years later, Dallas is still a part of the Thanksgiving tradition.
Recently, people have begun to lament the Thanksgiving day games as an unfair advantage for both Detroit and Dallas. The late Lamar Hunt was especially vocal about the need to rotate the site of the games in order to level the playing field. To assuage the critics, the league has added a third game on Thanksgiving which airs at night and does not feature any specific team or site. Do you feel like hosting the games on Turkey Day gives an advantage to the Lions and Cowboys? If so, what is the solution?