Black Friday sales. Overeating. Getting sick on your cousin Edna’s cranberry stuffing (that stuff’s so bad even the dog won’t touch it!). Parades. Christmas cookies. Football.

Yes. Football. The NFL and Thanksgiving. BFFs. The National Football League gives its football fans a feast for the eyes and a chance to yell at your favorite team and shove some food in your face at the same time and yes, Lions fans, even though your team is having less than a stellar season in 2015, you are center stage this year and Dallas will also get in on the act as well.

The powers that be will give its fans a chance to eat and watch football and even be able to do it at the same time. For those that don’t know, this is not the first time that there has been football on Turkey Day.

It all got started in 1920, when there were a grand total of six football games played on Turkey Day. We’re not sure who got the drumstick or who liked dark meat or white meat but the home fans feasted, taking four wins out of six. That’s not bad.

The idea of pro football on Thanksgiving Day was born out of need for recognition and cash. The National Football League was in its infancy in 1925 and in desperate need of a major gate attraction. The league’s wishes were granted on Thanksgiving Day as the Chicago Bears introduced their newest member – “The Galloping Ghost,” Harold (Red) Grange.”

According to NFL historians and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, just days after his collegiate career ended, a standing-room crowd of 36,000 – the largest in pro football history at the time – packed Wrigley Field to get a glimpse of Grange in action. Although the Bears and cross-town rival Chicago Cardinals played to 0-0 tie, the NFL had its first bona fide star.

Grange played respectably in his professional debut as the crowd and the Cardinals, keyed on the famous player. In fact the crowd booed whenever the play was not directed toward Grange. Aside from gaining a black eye, Grange totaled 92 yards from scrimmage, added 56 yards on punt returns, threw six passes and had an interception to break up the Cardinals’ only real scoring threat of the day. Newspapers reported that he pulled in an astronomical $12,000 for his day’s work – much of which most likely found its way to his manager, C.C. “Cash and Carry” Pyle.

Over the next several months, Grange and his Chicago Bears traveled the country on a barnstorming tour. More than 400,000 spectators – from coast to coast – saw the fabled All-America from the University of Illinois display his athletic talents on the football field.

Using Grange as his star attraction, Pyle organized a rival league called the American Football League in 1926. Grange starred for the New York Yankees. While the Yankees had moderate success, the league failed. Grange rejoined the Bears in 1927 but suffered a serious knee injury that sidelined him through the entire 1928 season but he came back in 1929 and played with Chicago through 1934.

In actuality, Grange was a far better defensive back than a ball carrier on offense. More importantly for the NFL, the name recognition of Red Grange was instrumental in attracting large crowds for the professional game. His signing with the Bears helped the league succeed and grow to a new level in the late 1920s and early 1930s.

The Lions began playing on Turkey Day in 1934 when they played the Chicago Bears and lost to Da Bears by a final of 19-16. We’re still not sure who got the drumstick or if the Lions liked dark or white meat and we’re not even sure if the Bears liked gravy on their dressing. Detroit did find the win column the next year, as they would beat Chicago and gain some revenge, taking a 14-2 win. The Lions and Bears (sorry, no tigers… oh my!) would play Chicago three more times from 1936 to 1938, when that Hitler guy ruined the party and would eventually force America into the Second World War. While America was out saving the world from a madman that was bent on killing 6 million people because of their religion, Thanksgiving Day football went into hibernation, plus it’s kind of hard to throw a football when you’re trying to throw a grenade.

The war ended, Hilter’s dead (probably from eating Edna’s cooking, which is so bad even the Japanese surrendered!) and things did get back to normal in 1945 when the Lions once again took the stage, losing to the Cleveland Rams (yes, the Rams were in Cleveland before they loaded up the truck and moved to Los Angeles and then to St. Louis) by a 28-21 final. Things didn’t go well for Detroit for four more seasons (probably due to over-eating before, during and after the game) before beating up on the New York Yanks 49-14 in 1950.

Detroit with their game against Philadelphia will have played a grand total of 75 games on Thanksgiving Day and even when the team was bad, fans still come to the game. Why? Probably because their fathers brought their kids to the games and they in turn brought their kids. A whopping total of 4,169,016 have seen the Lions at home in the 74 games played, either at Tiger Stadium, the Pontiac SilverDome or Ford Field, averaging a little over 56 thousand a contest. Even when the team was bad, fans still came out and to watch their team. Some came before they sat down to eat and some leaving early to get home to eat.

While the Lions have been the home team on Thanksgiving, their opponents have changed from year to year. 27 teams have played the Lions and the most common opponent is Green Bay. The second most common opponent? Da Bears. They have faced the Monsters of the Midway 16 times.

There have been blowouts and there have been some really good games in the series. Have there been shutouts, you ask? Yes, just as sure as your aunt Grace is going to serve that orange and rum cheesecake for dessert. (Pack the Pepto and wear really loose clothing, it’s gonna be a long day). Seven contests have been shutouts but the Lions only have won one contest where they did the deed, a 24-0 win over Chicago in 1979 and three games have gone into overtime (think of it as going for seconds of your sister’s mashed potatoes). The first overtime contest took place in 1980, when Chicago beat Detroit 23-17 on a 95-yard kickoff return by David Williams. The last overtime game in the series was last year against Houston, as the Texans would win it on a 32-yard field goal by kicker Shanyne Graham.

As for the Cowboys… Dallas didn’t make it onto the Thanksgiving Day Stage until 1966, when their first contest took place in the Cotton Bowl against the St. Louis Cardinals (yes, kids the Cardinals were in Chicago first, then St. Louis before they moved to Arizona). They won that contest 46-21 in the Lone Star State that day. The Cowboys have always played their games later in the afternoon. Think of it as dessert after you’ve cleaned your plate while being forced to sit at the kids’ table with your ugly cousin Terri (although the nose job she got last summer has made her a bit more attractive). They started out winning their first six contests before finally losing to San Francisco in 1972. The only year America’s Team did not grace the nation’s TV screens was in 1975 but they came back the following year before skipping the 1977 season but returned the following year and they’ve been with us ever since… think of that really bad gravy your cousin Marge made four years ago. It’s that bad (although her cooking has gotten a little better, we’re speaking of the gravy, not the football). The Cowboys have played 45 games on Thanksgiving, winning 30 of them with 15 losses.

Is this the end of football on Turkey Day? Far from it. In 2006, the NFL decided that if two games on Thanksgiving Day were good, then three must be great and that was the case when they when prime time for football fans. It’s like going back and making a turkey and ham sandwich with cranberry sauce as a snack.

2014 will give football fans three chances to watch as much football and shove as much food in their faces as they can do so (use your common sense when eating, no elbows on the table and watch out for your cousin Connie. She’s the one that turned 56, dates a 41-year old football coach and once wiped out your Super Bowl party last year by eating an entire Oreo cheesecake, two bags of Cool Ranch Doritos, two bacon cheeseburgers with blue cheese and chugged two 2-liter Cokes and didn’t gain a pound. You look at her and say to yourself, “what the hell?” The girl’s a bottomless pit!).

As usual, Detroit gets things going at 12:30 p.m. on FOX when they host the Philadelphia Eagles. Then Cam Newton and the undefeated Carolina Panthers travel to Arlington for a 4:30 p.m. contest with Dez Bryant, Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys on CBS and for the nightcap (or the snack, if you prefer), it’s Green Bay honoring Brett Farve by retiring his number 4 and facing Da Bears at 8:30 p.m. on NBC.

Food and football. The NFL and Thanksgiving. The only other holiday that joins food and football? Super Bowl Sunday (which technically is not a holiday but some think it should be). It seems that the powers that run the National Football League knows what they’re doing. Be sure you say grace before you eat, especially if your aunt Grace is cooking (no wonder your uncle Barry left her and joined the Marines!). The food may (or may not) be the greatest but let’s hope the football serves up some winners.

Here’s a history of football on Thanksgiving (source: the National Football League)

November 25, 1920
AKRON PROS 7, Canton Bulldogs 0
Decatur Staleys 6, CHICAGO TIGERS 0
ELYRIA (OH) ATHLETICS* 0, Columbus Panhandles 0
DAYTON TRIANGLES 28, Detroit Heralds 0
CHICAGO BOOSTERS* 27, Hammond Pros 0
All-Tonawanda (New York) 14, ROCHESTER JEFFERSONS 3

November 24, 1921
Canton Bulldogs 14, AKRON PROS 0
Buffalo All-Americans 7, CHICAGO STALEYS 6

November 30, 1922
Buffalo All-Americans 21, ROCHESTER JEFFERSONS 0
CHICAGO CARDINALS 6, Chicago Bears 0
RACINE LEGION 3, Milwaukee Badgers 0
Oorang Indians 18, COLUMBUS PANHANDLES 6
CANTON BULLDOGS 14, Akron Pros 0

November 29, 1923
CANTON BULLDOGS 28, Toledo Maroons 0
CHICAGO BEARS 3, Chicago Cardinals 0
GREEN BAY PACKERS 19, Hammond Pros 0
Milwaukee Badgers 16, RACINE LEGION 0
AKRON PROS 2, Buffalo All-Americans 0

November 27, 1924
AKRON PROS 22, Buffalo Bisons 0
Chicago Bears 21, CHICAGO CARDINALS 0
FRANKFORD YELLOWJACKETS 32, Dayton Triangles 7
CLEVELAND BULLDOGS 53, Milwaukee Badgers 10 at Canton, Ohio
Green Bay Packers 17, KANSAS CITY BLUES 6

November 26, 1925
CHICAGO BEARS 0, Chicago Cardinals 0
Kansas City Cowboys 17, CLEVELAND BULLDOGS 0 at Hartford, Connecticut
Rock Island Independents 6, DETROIT PANTHERS 3
POTTSVILLE MAROONS 31, Green Bay Packers 0

November 25, 1926
New York Giants 17, BROOKLYN LIONS 0
Los Angeles Buccaneers 9, DETROIT PANTHERS 6
CHICAGO BEARS 0, Chicago Cardinals 0
FRANKFORD YELLOWJACKETS 20, Green Bay Packers 14
POTTSVILLE MAROONS 8, Providence Steam Roller 0
CANTON BULLDOGS 0, Akron Pros 0

November 24, 1927
Chicago Cardinals 3, CHICAGO BEARS 0
POTTSVILLE MAROONS 6, Providence Steam Roller 0
Green Bay Packers 17, FRANKFORD YELLOWJACKETS 9
Cleveland Bulldogs 30, NEW YORK YANKEES 19

November 29, 1928
Providence Steam Roller 7, POTTSVILLE MAROONS 0
DETROIT WOLVERINES 33, Dayton Triangles 0
FRANKFORD YELLOWJACKETS 2, Green Bay Packers 0
CHICAGO BEARS 34, Chicago Cardinals 0

November 28, 1929
New York Giants 21, STATEN ISLAND STAPLETONS 7
FRANKFORD YELLOWJACKETS 0, Green Bay Packers 0
Chicago Cardinals 40, CHICAGO BEARS 6

November 27, 1930
STATEN ISLAND STAPLETONS 7, New York Giants 6
BROOKLYN DODGERS 33, Providence Steam Roller 12
Green Bay Packers 25, FRANKFORD YELLOWJACKETS 7
CHICAGO BEARS 6, Chicago Cardinals 0

November 26, 1931
Green Bay Packers 38, PROVIDENCE STEAM ROLLER 7
STATEN ISLAND STAPLETONS 9, New York Giants 6
CHICAGO BEARS 18, Chicago Cardinals 7

November 24, 1932
CHICAGO BEARS 34, Chicago Cardinals 0
Green Bay Packers 7, BROOKLYN DODGERS 0
STATEN ISLAND STAPLETONS 13, New York Giants 13

November 30, 1933
Chicago Bears 22, CHICAGO CARDINALS 6
New York Giants 10, BROOKLYN DODGERS 0

November 29, 1934
CHICAGO CARDINALS 6, Green Bay Packers 0
Chicago Bears 19, DETROIT LIONS 16
New York Giants 27, BROOKLYN DODGERS 0

November 28, 1935
New York Giants 21, BROOKLYN DODGERS 0
CHICAGO CARDINALS 9, Green Bay Packers 7
DETROIT LIONS 14, Chicago Bears 2

November 26, 1936
DETROIT LIONS 13, Chicago Bears 7
New York Giants 14, BROOKLYN DODGERS 0

November 25, 1937
Chicago Bears 13, DETROIT LIONS 0
BROOKLYN DODGERS 13, New York Giants 13

November 24, 1938
DETROIT LIONS 14, Chicago Bears 7
BROOKLYN DODGERS 7, New York Giants 7

November 23, 1939
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES 17, Pittsburgh Steelers 14#

November 28, 1940
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES 7, Pittsburgh Steelers 0#

November 22, 1945
Cleveland Rams 28, DETROIT LIONS 21

November 28, 1946
Boston Yanks 34, DETROIT LIONS 10

November 27, 1947
Chicago Bears 34, DETROIT LIONS 14

November 25, 1948
Chicago Cardinals 28, DETROIT LIONS 14

November 24, 1949
Chicago Bears 28, DETROIT LIONS 7

November 23, 1950
DETROIT LIONS 49, New York Yanks 14
Pittsburgh Steelers 28, CHICAGO CARDINALS 17

November 22, 1951
DETROIT LIONS 52, Green Bay Packers 35

November 27, 1952
DETROIT LIONS 48, Green Bay Packers 24
DALLAS TEXANS 27, Chicago Bears 23 at Akron, Ohio

November 26, 1953
DETROIT LIONS 34, Green Bay Packers 15

November 25, 1954
DETROIT LIONS 28, Green Bay Packers 24

November 24, 1955
DETROIT LIONS 24, Green Bay Packers 10

November 22, 1956
Green Bay Packers 24, DETROIT LIONS 20

November 28, 1957
DETROIT LIONS 18, Green Bay Packers 6

November 27, 1958
DETROIT LIONS 24, Green Bay Packers 14

November 26, 1959
Green Bay Packers 24, DETROIT LIONS 17

November 24, 1960
DETROIT LIONS 23, Green Bay Packers 10
(AFL) – NEW YORK TITANS 41, Dallas Texans 35

November 23, 1961
Green Bay Packers 17, DETROIT LIONS 9
(AFL) – NEW YORK TITANS 21, Buffalo Bills 14

November 22, 1962
DETROIT LIONS 26, Green Bay Packers 14
(AFL) – New York Titans 46, DENVER BRONCOS 45

November 28, 1963
DETROIT LIONS 13, Green Bay Packers 13
(AFL) – Oakland Raiders 26, DENVER BRONCOS 10

November 26, 1964
Chicago Bears 27, DETROIT LIONS 24
(AFL) – Buffalo Bills 27, SAN DIEGO CHARGERS 24

November 25, 1965
DETROIT LIONS 24, Baltimore Colts 24
(AFL) – SAN DIEGO CHARGERS 20, Buffalo Bills 20

November 24, 1966
San Francisco 49ers 41, DETROIT LIONS 14
DALLAS COWBOYS 26, Cleveland Browns 14
(AFL) – Buffalo Bills 31, OAKLAND RAIDERS 10

November 23, 1967
Los Angeles Rams 31, DETROIT LIONS 7
DALLAS COWBOYS 46, St. Louis Cardinals 21
(AFL) – Oakland Raiders 44, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS 22
(AFL) – SAN DIEGO CHARGERS 24, Denver Broncos 20

November 28, 1968
Philadelphia Eagles 12, DETROIT LIONS 0
DALLAS COWBOYS 29, Washington Redskins 20
(AFL) – OAKLAND RAIDERS 13, Buffalo Bills 10
(AFL) – KANSAS CITY CHIEFS 24, Houston Oilers 10

November 27, 1969
Minnesota Vikings 27, DETROIT LIONS 0
DALLAS COWBOYS 24, San Francisco 49ers 24
(AFL) – KANSAS CITY CHIEFS 31, Denver Broncos 17
(AFL) – San Diego Chargers 21, HOUSTON OILERS 17

November 26, 1970
DETROIT LIONS 28, Oakland Raiders 14
DALLAS COWBOYS 16, Green Bay Packers 3

November 25, 1971
DETROIT LIONS 32, Kansas City Chiefs 21
DALLAS COWBOYS 28, Los Angeles Rams 21

November 23, 1972
DETROIT LIONS 37, New York Jets 20
San Francisco 49ers 31, DALLAS COWBOYS 10

November 22, 1973
Washington Redskins 20, DETROIT LIONS 0
Miami Dolphins 14, DALLAS COWBOYS 7

November 28, 1974
Denver Broncos 31, DETROIT LIONS 27
DALLAS COWBOYS 24, Washington Redskins 23

November 27, 1975
Los Angeles Rams 20, DETROIT LIONS 0
Buffalo Bills 32, ST. LOUIS CARDINALS 14

November 25, 1976
DETROIT LIONS 27, Buffalo Bills 14
DALLAS COWBOYS 19, St. Louis Cardinals 14

November 24, 1977
Chicago Bears 31, DETROIT LIONS 14
Miami Dolphins 55, ST. LOUIS CARDINALS 14

November 23, 1978
DETROIT LIONS 17, Denver Broncos 14
DALLAS COWBOYS 37, Washington Redskins 10

November 22, 1979
DETROIT LIONS 20, Chicago Bears 0
Houston Oilers 30, DALLAS COWBOYS 24

November 27, 1980
Chicago Bears 23, DETROIT LIONS 17 (OT)
DALLAS COWBOYS 51, Seattle Seahawks 7

November 26, 1981
DETROIT LIONS 27, Kansas City Chiefs 10
DALLAS COWBOYS 10, Chicago Bears 9

November 25, 1982
New York Giants 13, DETROIT LIONS 6
DALLAS COWBOYS 31, Cleveland Browns 14

November 24, 1983
DETROIT LIONS 45, Pittsburgh Steelers 3
DALLAS COWBOYS 35, St. Louis Cardinals 17

November 22, 1984
DETROIT LIONS 31, Green Bay Packers 28
DALLAS COWBOYS 20, New England Patriots 17

November 28, 1985
DETROIT LIONS 31, New York Jets 20
DALLAS COWBOYS 35, St. Louis Cardinals 17

November 27, 1986
Green Bay Packers 44, DETROIT LIONS 40
Seattle Seahawks 31, DALLAS COWBOYS 14

November 26, 1987
Kansas City 27, DETROIT 20
Minnesota 44, DALLAS 38 (OT)

November 24, 1988
Minnesota 23, DETROIT 0
Houston Oilers 25, DALLAS 17

November 23, 1989
DETROIT 13, Cleveland 10
Philadelphia 27, DALLAS 0

November 22, 1990
DETROIT 40, Denver 27
DALLAS 27, Washington 17

November 28, 1991
DETROIT 16, Chicago 6
DALLAS 20, Pittsburgh  10

November 26, 1992
Houston Oilers 24, DETROIT 21
DALLAS 30, New York Giants 3

November 25, 1993
Chicago Bears 10, DETROIT 6
Miami 16, DALLAS 14

November 24, 1994
DETROIT 35, Buffalo 21
DALLAS 42, Green Bay 31

November 23, 1995
DETROIT 44, Minnesota 38
DALLAS 24, Kansas City 12

November 28, 1996
Kansas City 28, DETROIT 24
DALLAS 21, Washington 10

November 27, 1997
DETROIT 55, Chicago 20
Tennessee 27, DALLAS 14

November 26, 1998
DETROIT 19, Pittsburgh 16 (OT)
Minnesota 46, DALLAS 36

November 25, 1999
DETROIT 21, Chicago 17
DALLAS 20, Miami 0

November 23, 2000
DETROIT 34, New England 9
Minnesota 27, DALLAS 15

November 22, 2001
Green Bay 29, DETROIT 27
Denver 26, DALLAS 24

November 28, 2002
New England 20, DETROIT 12
DALLAS 27, Washington 20

November 27, 2003
DETROIT 22, Green Bay 14
Miami 40, DALLAS 21

November 25, 2004
Indianapolis 41, DETROIT 9
DALLAS 21, Chicago 7

November 24, 2005
Atlanta 27, DETROIT 7
Denver 24, DALLAS 21 (OT)

November 23, 2006
Miami 27, DETROIT 10
DALLAS 38, Tampa Bay 10
KANSAS CITY 19, Denver 10

November 22, 2007
Green Bay 37, DETROIT 26
DALLAS 34, New York Jets 3
Indianapolis 31, ATLANTA 13

November 27, 2008
Tennessee 47, DETROIT 10
DALLAS 34, Seattle 9
PHILADELPHIA 48, Arizona 20

November 26, 2009
Green Bay 34, DETROIT 12
DALLAS 24, Oakland 7
DENVER 26, New York Giants 6

November 25, 2010
New England 45, DETROIT 24
New Orleans 30, DALLAS 27
NEW YORK JETS 26, Cincinnati 10

November 24, 2011
Green Bay 27, DETROIT 15
DALLAS 20, Miami 19
BALTIMORE 16, San Francisco 6

November 22, 2012
Houston 34, DETROIT 31 (OT)
Washington 38, DALLAS 31
New England 49, NEW YORK JETS 19

November 28, 2013
DETROIT 40, Green Bay 10
DALLAS 31, Oakland 24
BALTIMORE 22, Pittsburgh 20

November 27, 2014
DETROIT 34, Chicago 17
Philadelphia 33, DALLAS 10
Seattle 19, SAN FRANCISCO 3

November 26, 2015
Philadelphia at Detroit, 12:30 p.m. (FOX)
Carolina at Dallas, 4:30 p.m. (CBS)
Chicago at Green Bay, 8:30 p.m. (NBC)

* Non league team. Games between league teams and non league teams counted in standings in 1920.
# In 1939 and 1940, President Roosevelt moved Thanksgiving one week earlier. Various states celebrated on the date declared by the President, while other states recognized the traditional fourth Thursday of the month. In 1941, Thanksgiving was sanctioned by Congress to be celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November, which it has been ever since.

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