Thanksgiving Football: Tradition at its Finest


The family’s over. The gravy is rolling off of the stuffed turkey. Laughter fills the air as it’s another traditious holiday. But hold on, we can’t forget one of the most important traditions on this day: Thanksgiving football! Nothing is like stuffing your face and watching a sport that screams American heritage. Every year, the Lions and Cowboys host a game each, this year being the Bears VS Lions  and the Eagles VS Cowboys, two fierce division battles. The night game, dating back to 2006, usually features a division battle too, this year being the Seattle Seahawks playing the San Francisco 49ers.

Since 1934, the Lions and Cowboys have been having these match-ups, but the first American Thanksgiving football game took place in 1869. New Jersey teams, Rutgers defeated Princeton in New Brunswick, and this began a trend that would continue on for the next 100 years. From college it moved to professional and the rest is history. Many memorable games were produced because of Thanksgiving football throughout the years of its existence.

Who could forget the 1993 matchup between the Cowboys and the Dolphins. The Cowboys were up late in the game and the Dolphins were attempting a game winning field goal. The spot was good, the snap was down, but the kick was blocked! As the ball was spiraling on the ground, Cowboy defensive end Leon Lett went to pick up the ball in a huge mental error! He couldn’t get his hands completely on it, giving the Dolphins a clear recovery. The Dolphins attempted the field goal again, and the kick went through for the win.

Another memorable game in 1998, featured the Steelers and Lions. They were headed for overtime with the game tied 16-16. On the ensuing coin toss, Steelers running back Jerome Bettis said tails, but the referee, Phil Luckett, called that he said heads. The coin landed tails and he awarded the Lions with the chance to differ or receive. Mayhem soon followed as the Steelers coach ran on the field to sort out what actually happened. The ruling of the coin toss could not be “overturned,” giving the Lions the ball as they drove down the field and won the game on a field goal (19-16).

And the most famous of any Thanksgiving blunder occurred in 2012. The New York Jets lead by quarterback Mark Sanchez were already getting blown out by the New England Patriots, when the play of a lifetime happened. Sanchez fumbled the snap and was forced to pick it up and try to run for a positive gain. He ended up running right into his offensive lineman’s buttocks, fumbling the ball, and the Patriots took it back for a touchdown. It would forever be known as the “Butt Fumble.”

Yes, Thanksgiving football has had its bad moments, but that’s the part of the game. Without football on Thanksgiving, the day would feel empty. It’s a long lasting tradition that has existed for years and will continue to be an important constant in years to come.