Football onThanksgiving – Uniquely American Tradition

Football on Thanksgiving started as a tradition with high schools and colleges but has faded into oblivion.

However, it’s alive and well in the NFL where Thanksgiving Day is football tradition in Dallas and Detroit.  Beginning in 1966, Dallas has missed playing on the holiday only in 1975 and 1977.

It started with the Lions in 1934 when George A. Richards purchased the Portsmouth (Ohio) Spartans and moved the team to Detroit.  He was also bringing at least one super-star, Earl “Dutch” Clark, one of the most versatile backs ever to play the game

George A. Richards also recognized that his Lions were taking a back seat to the baseball Tigers on the sports pages. So as one way of attracting Motor City fans during the team’s first season, he opted for the Thanksgiving Day game.

Thus the football-on-Thanksgiving tradition became firmly established in Detroit. With the exception of a six-season gap from 1939 to 1944, the Thanksgiving Day game has been played with no interruptions.

Unique American Tradition

The event that Americans commonly call the “First Thanksgiving” was celebrated by the Pilgrims after their first harvest in the New World in 1621. This feast lasted three days. Imagine three days of football.

It was designated a federal holiday when, President Lincoln expressing gratitude for a pivotal Union Army victory at Gettysburg announces that the nation will celebrate an official Thanksgiving holiday on November 26, 1863. Proclaiming a national day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens,” to be celebrated on the last Thursday in November.

It’s important to reflect and embrace the traditions, values, sacrifices, Constitution, God and Country that makes America Great and to appreciate, support and protect it.

Happy Thanksgiving

Paul Dobbs

November 23, 2016