(WTAJ) — Every November, Americans travel all over to spend time with family while enjoying turkey on Thanksgiving. And if (too much) turkey during the annual holiday is a recurring theme, so is football: The NFL schedules three games each season on Turkey Day.
Whether you’re into sports or not, you may notice that every year the Dallas Cowboys and Detroit Lions take the field. So why do these two teams still play on Thanksgiving?
The tradition is entering its 89th year for the Lions, who began playing on Thanksgiving in 1934. The original schedule was no coincidence, either. George A. Richards, then the team’s owner, aimed to attract publicity (and fans) with a Turkey Day game, according to CBS Sports.
Richards also owned an NBC-affiliated radio station and had a contract to broadcast the game on 94 different stations.
The Lions have played on Thanksgiving every year since 1934, except between 1939 and 1944 during World War II.
Detroit didn’t invent football on Thanksgiving, however. According to Pro Football Hall of FameThe first NFL Thanksgiving football games were played on November 25, 1920.
But what about the Cowboys? Their tradition started more recently but still has a lot of history.
In 1966, Tex Schramm, then general manager, scheduled a Thanksgiving game for the same reason as Richards: to attract crowds. The Cowboys have only missed two Thanksgiving games since, when the St. Louis Cardinals played instead in 1975 and 1977.
The Cowboys and Lions have kept the tradition going, and it doesn’t look like plans will change anytime soon. A notable exception, however, was the addition of a third Thanksgiving game to the list by the NFL in 2006.
Detroit is 37-44-2 all-time on Thanksgiving, while Dallas is 32-22-1 all-time, according to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The best records belong to the Baltimore Ravens and Houston Texans, who are both 2-0 over the holidays.
The Cleveland Browns hold the worst winning percentage, losing in their three Turkey Day appearances.
Oddly enough, every team played on Thanksgiving except one: the Jacksonville Jaguars.
This season’s game will feature the Green Bay Packers visiting the Detroit Lions at 12:30 p.m. ET on FOX, followed by the Washington Commanders taking on the Dallas Cowboys at 4:25 p.m. ET on CBS. The evening will conclude with the San Francisco 49ers taking on the Seattle Seahawks at 8:20 p.m. ET on NBC.