In 1934, radio executive G.A. Richards bought the Portsmouth, Ohio Spartans NFL team, moved them to Detroit, and renamed them the Lions. Unfortunately for him, nobody in Detroit cared much for watching the Lions. Despite winning all their games but one before Thanksgiving, having several stars of the day, and one super star in Earl “Dutch” Clark, the average turn out for each game was only around 12,000 people.
At the time, it was fairly traditional for various football programs in high schools and colleges to hold particularly significant games on Thanksgiving. So Richards decided to try to bring this same tradition to the NFL, convincing the NFL to allow the Lions and the defending World Champion Chicago Bears to play for the Western Division championship on Thanksgiving.
Richards then used his considerable influence in radio to convince NBC that they should broadcast this game on the radio all across the United States, something that had never been done before for an NFL game. The game ended up being a huge success, being played at the University of Detroit Stadium in front of a sold out crowd of 26,000 fans and broadcast across the nation on over 94 different radio stations. In the end, the Bears won 19-16, but the game was such a success, as far as ratings and fan turn-out went, that Richards fought to be allowed to continue having the Lions play on Thanksgiving going forward and to continue to have that games broadcast out on the radio nationwide.
* The Dallas Cowboys have played their traditional Thanksgiving Day game since 1966, missing games in 1975 and 1977.
* The first televised Thanksgiving Day game was in 1956 the Green Bay Packers with the Lions losing 24-20.
* In order to appease fans of other teams who also wanted their favorite team to take part in Thanksgiving NFL games, in 2006, the NFL instituted a third game, on top of the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboy traditional games. This third game has no fixed teams, as in the previous two.
Nov 30, 2010
Sep 14, 2010
The Cowboys, who began play in the NFL in 1960, were originally nicknamed the Steers. The team’s general manager, Texas E. Schramm, decided that having a castrated ox as a mascot might subject the team to ridicule, so he changed the name to Rangers. Then he feared that people would confuse the football team with the local minor league baseball team nicknamed the Rangers and finally changed the nickname to Cowboys shortly before the season began.