Thanksgiving games should include best teams, not traditional duo
While Americans prepared their Thanksgiving spread and Black Friday shopping lists, six NFL teams took the field.
According to CBS, 31 of the 32 NFL teams have played on Thanksgiving night, except the Jacksonville Jaguars. Two NFL teams are always scheduled for Thanksgiving: the Cowboys and the Lions.
“America’s Team” has played on every Thanksgiving except for 1975 and 1977. According to CBS, the Cowboys’ Thanksgiving tradition began in 1966 when general manager Tex Schramm signed the team up to play to gain more national publicity. Schramm’s experiment worked, and the Cowboys had record-shattering crowds at the Cotton Bowl.
I have no issue with the Cowboys playing on Thanksgiving. After all, the NFL is notorious for favoring heavy profits. With a 31-20-1 record on Thanksgiving and consistent star rosters, the Cowboys are bound to sell out their Thanksgiving game every year.
However, I do have an issue with another team playing every year: the Detroit Lions.
According to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, in 1934, local radio executive and owner of the Detroit Lions George A. Richards noticed that his team was less favored than their MLB counterparts, the Detroit Tigers.
Therefore, he set up a 94 station network to broadcast the Lions’ Thanksgiving matchup against the Chicago Bears. Richards’ plan succeeded and the Lions have played every Thanksgiving except for a six-year gap between 1939 and 1944.
After their loss on Thursday, the Lions were officially eliminated from playoff contention. With an all-time Thanksgiving record of 37-41-2, the Lions have been highly unsuccessful on this national holiday.
It’s time for the Lions to take a break from Thanksgiving. The franchise needs to regroup and find a way to put together a winning team. Another six-year hiatus should do the trick.
Honoring traditions is important. However, it’s time for the NFL to start new traditions on Thanksgiving. The game has evolved; new, young stars have risen and Americans want and need to be entertained. The Detroit Lions are not exciting or entertaining. In fact, the franchise has become synonymous with loss and disappointment.
So what’s the solution?
According to Forbes, the Cowboys are the most popular team and, therefore, must play on Thanksgiving. However, the other five teams should be determined by the following factors: popularity and amount of star players on a roster.
Thanksgiving is a national showcase. The NFL should want to schedule its best teams.
After the Cowboys, the most popular teams in the United States per Forbes are the New England Patriots, New York Giants, Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers.
Let’s not forget about Patrick Mahomes’ Kansas City Chiefs and Russell Wilson’s Seattle Seahawks. Aside from the Giants, every team mentioned has a winning record in 2019.
According to The Players’ Tribune, San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman described Thursday Night Football games as “ludicrous and hypocritical.” Therefore, to provide the best spectacle on national television, the NFL should grant a bye to teams for the Sunday before Thanksgiving.
Cowboys, Lions should continue tradition, play every Thanksgiving day
Thanksgiving will always be synonymous with football. There were three NFL games this year, with the Bears vs. the Lions in the morning, the Cowboys vs. the Bills in the afternoon and the Saints vs. the Falcons in the evening.
Every year, no matter how these teams do and no matter how bad they look in the offseason, the Detroit Lions and the Dallas Cowboys always play on Thanksgiving. While some people might get upset and want to see other teams, I honestly don’t care and think that things shouldn’t change.
Let’s address how bad these two teams usually are. The Lions and Cowboys are the definition of mediocrity in the NFL. Though these teams always seem to be at their averageness at this point in the season, the schedule is set well in advance and can’t be changed. People have spent money on going to these games, and changing the schedule would mess with fans for no reason other than that these two teams are so second-rate.
If they look good in the preseason and start tanking by this point, how does the NFL make this prediction when making the schedule? The schedule is made right around Super Bowl time, and even though it’s not released until April, it’s hard to predict who the best teams in the league will be come Thanksgiving.
Also, it’s a tradition to have the Cowboys and the Lions play on Thanksgiving. Out of all these fan bases, these two would complain more that they were switched out of the Thanksgiving spot than those who are complaining that they should be moved. Cowboys’ fans are the loudest in the bunch, and Lions’ fans would have nothing if they didn’t have the Thanksgiving game to look forward to.
The NFL is a business. The Cowboys have the biggest fanbase in the league, and they will tune in to watch the game if they can’t attend. It is probably in the NFL’s best interest to have the Cowboys play on Thanksgiving because it’s going to bring in the most money. It’s hard for me to say, but when the Cowboys are good, it’s good for the NFL.
I would love to see the Philadelphia Eagles or any other team play on Thanksgiving over the Cowboys and Lions. Heck, I would even take the Browns and Dolphins.
But the NFL knows that these two teams get the most eyes on the TV during Thanksgiving. It’s a tradition that has withstood the test of time: why break it now? Besides, maybe watching the Cowboys and the Lions will keep your “boomer” uncle quiet through dinner.