Parades, Black Friday Sales, in-laws grousing about the food and picky eaters.

There’s always football on Thanksgiving.

This year, NFL fans will get a chance to shove food in their faces and watch football. The schedule makers have once again given football fans a pigskin buffet with not one, not two but three games on the tube.

How did all of this get started, you ask?

Glad you asked.

We’re about to explain it to you.

Pass the rolls, please.

In 1920, there were a total of six games that were played on Turkey Day. While we will never know who liked dark meat or light, we can tell you that the home teams that day did quite well, going four for six. The idea of professional football on Thanksgiving Day? It came as a way to make money and for the new league we know now as the National Football League a chance to get some recognition.

The NFL Historians and the good folks at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio tell us that the Chicago Bears introduced their newest star, Illinois RB Red Grange – “the Galloping Ghost” to a standing room-only crowd at Wrigley Field of 36,000 fans in a contest against their cross-town rivals the Chicago Cardinals. Even though the two teams fought to a 0-0 tie, they had their star, the league got its much-needed recognition and the rest, they say is history. Even though he got a black eye for his effort (probably from either being tackled or reaching for the mashed potatoes before the prayer was said), Grange tallied 92 yards rushing, 56 yards on punt returns, throwing six passes and had an interception to stop a Cardinals drive. Newspapers reported that he took home a whopping $12,000 for his day of work, most of which went to his manager C.C. “Cash and Carry” Pyle.

Grange would travel the nation over the next several months on a barn-storming 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. With 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. He came back in 1929 and played with Chicago through 1934. While known as a runner, Grange was better as a defensive back. 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.

As for the two major teams that play at home on Thanksgiving Day… Detroit and Dallas?

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 some guy named Hitler ruined the party and would eventually force America and the rest of the world 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 was kind of hard to throw a football when you’re trying to throw a grenade.

The war ended, Hilter’s dead (probably from overeating, if the Russians didn’t get him first), the Germans and Japanese are in the process of being punished for starting the Second World War and things did get back to normal in 1945 when the Lions once again took the stage, losing to the Cleveland Rams (yes, kids… the Rams were in Cleveland before they loaded up the truck and moved to Los Angeles and then to St. Louis before coming back to Tinseltown) 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 will have played a grand total of 76 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. 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 and Detroit’s most common opponent is Green Bay. The second most common opponent? Da Bears.

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, 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 in 2017 against Houston, as the Texans would win it on a 32-yard field goal by kicker Shanyne Graham.

As for the Cowboys… America’s Team 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. 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 she’s gotten a lot better looking lately and is about to go off to college next year). 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 three years ago. It’s that bad (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.

2019 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 57, dates a 42-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!).

Food and football. The NFL and Thanksgiving. The only other holiday that joins food and football is 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. Mind your manners, no belching at the table and try not to cheer with your mouth full, k?

Here’s a history of football on Thanksgiving (source: the National Football League; home teams in CAPS)

November 25, 1920
AKRON PROS 7, Canton Bulldogs 0
Decatur Staleys 6, CHICAGO TIGERS 0
ELYRIA (Ohio) 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
* Non league team. Games between league teams and non league teams counted in standings in 1920.

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

# 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.

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 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 Chiefs 27, DETROIT LIONS 20
Minnesota Vikings 44, DALLAS COWBOYS 38 (OT)

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

November 23, 1989
DETROIT LIONS 13, Cleveland Browns 10
Philadelphia Eagles 27, DALLAS COWBOYS 0

November 22, 1990
DETROIT LIONS 40, Denver Broncos 27
DALLAS COWBOYS 27, Washington Redskins 17

November 28, 1991
DETROIT LIONS 16, Chicago Bears 6
DALLAS COWBOYS 20, Pittsburgh Steelers 10

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

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

November 24, 1994
DETROIT LIONS 35, Buffalo Bills 21
DALLAS COWBOYS 42, Green Bay Packers 31

November 23, 1995
DETROIT LIONS 44, Minnesota Vikings 38
DALLAS COWBOYS 24, Kansas City Chiefs 12

November 28, 1996
Kansas City Chiefs 28, DETROIT LIONS 24
DALLAS COWBOYS 21, Washington Redskins 10

November 27, 1997
DETROIT LIONS 55, Chicago Bears 20
Tennessee Titans 27, DALLAS COWBOYS 14

November 26, 1998
DETROIT LIONS 19, Pittsburgh Steelers 16 (OT)
Minnesota Vikings 46, DALLAS COWBOYS 36

November 25, 1999
DETROIT LIONS 21, Chicago Bears 17
DALLAS COWBOYS 20, Miami Dolphins 0

November 23, 2000
DETROIT LIONS 34, New England Patriots 9
Minnesota Vikings 27, DALLAS COWBOYS 15

November 22, 2001
Green Bay Packers 29, DETROIT LIONS 27
Denver Broncos 26, DALLAS COWBOYS 24

November 28, 2002
New England Patriots 20, DETROIT LIONS 12
DALLAS COWBOYS 27, Washington Redskins 20

November 27, 2003
DETROIT LIONS 22, Green Bay Packers 14
Miami Dolphins 40, DALLAS COWBOYS 21

November 25, 2004
Indianapolis Colts 41, DETROIT LIONS 9
DALLAS COWBOYS 21, Chicago Bears 7

November 24, 2005
Atlanta Falcons 27, DETROIT LIONS 7
Denver Broncos 24, DALLAS COWBOYS 21 (OT)

November 23, 2006
Miami Dolphins 27, DETROIT LIONS 10
DALLAS COWBOYS 38, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 10
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS 19, Denver Broncos 10

November 22, 2007
Green Bay Packers 37, DETROIT LIONS 26
DALLAS COWBOYS 34, New York Jets 3
Indianapolis Colts 31, ATLANTA FALCONS 13

November 27, 2008
Tennessee Titans 47, DETROIT LIONS 10
DALLAS COWBOYS 34, Seattle Seahawks 9
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES 48, Arizona Cardinals 20

November 26, 2009
Green Bay Packers 34, DETROIT LIONS 12
DALLAS COWBOYS 24, Oakland Raiders 7
DENVER BRONCOS 26, New York Giants 6

November 25, 2010
New England Patriots 45, DETROIT LIONS 24
New Orleans Saints 30, DALLAS COWBOYS 27
NEW YORK JETS 26, Cincinnati Bengals 10

November 24, 2011
Green Bay Packers 27, DETROIT LIONS 15
DALLAS COWBOYS 20, Miami Dolphins 19
BALTIMORE RAVENS 16, San Francisco 49ers 6

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

November 28, 2013
DETROIT LIONS 40, Green Bay Packers 10
DALLAS COWBOYS 31, Oakland Raiders 24
BALTIMORE RAVENS 22, Pittsburgh Steelers 20

November 27, 2014
DETROIT LIONS 34, Chicago Bears 17
Philadelphia Eagles 33, DALLAS COWBOYS 10
Seattle Seahawks 19, SAN FRANCISCO 49ers 3

November 26, 2015
DETROIT LIONS 45, Philadelphia Eagles 14
Carolina Panthers 33, DALLAS COWBOYS 14
Chicago Bears 17, GREEN BAY PACKERS 13

November 24, 2016
DETROIT LIONS 16, Minnesota Vikings 13
DALLAS COWBOYS 31, Washington Redskins 26
Pittsburgh Steelers 28, INDIANAPOLIS COLTS 7

November 23, 2017
Minnesota Vikings 30, DETROIT LIONS 23
Los Angeles Chargers 28, DALLAS COWBOYS 6
WASHINGTON REDSKINS 20, New York Giants 10

November 22, 2018
Chicago Bears 23, DETROIT LIONS 16
DALLAS COWBOYS 31, Washington Redskins 23
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS 31, Atlanta Falcons 17

Thanksgiving Day standings Of current NFL franchises. While this includes American Football League (AFL) games, it does not include All-America Football Conference (AAFC) games.

Team (Last Game; W-L-T, Pct.)
Arizona (2008; 6-15-2, .304) (a)
ATLANTA (2018; 1-2-0, .333)
Baltimore (2013; 2-0-0, 1.000)
Buffalo (1994; 3-4-1, .438) (b)
Carolina (2015; 1-0-0, 1.000)
Chicago (2018; 18-15-2, .543) (c)
Cincinnati (2010; 0-1-0, .000)
Cleveland (1989; 0-3-0, .000) (d)
Dallas (2018; 31-19-1, .618)
Denver (2009; 4-7-0, .364)
Detroit (2018; 37-40-2, .481)
Green Bay (2015; 14-20-2, .417)
Houston (2012; 1-0-0, 1.000)
Indianapolis (2016; 2-1-1, .625) (e)
Jacksonville (Never; 0-0-0, .000) (f)
Kansas City (2006; 5-5-0, .500) (g)
Los Angeles Chargers (2017; 3-1-1; .700) (h)
Los Angeles Rams (1975; 3-1-0, .750) (i)
Miami (2011; 5-2-0, .714)
Minnesota (2017; 6-2-0, .750)
New England (2012; 3-2-0, .600)
New Orleans (2018; 2-0-0, 1.000)
New York Giants (2017; 7-5-3, .567)
New York Jets (2012; 4-4-0, .500)(j)
Oakland (2013; 3-4-0, .429)
Philadelphia (2015; 6-1-0, .857)
Pittsburgh 2016 2 6 0 .250
San Francisco 2014 2 2 1 .500 (k)
Seattle (2014; 2-2-0, .500)
Tampa Bay (2006; 0-1-0, .000)
Tennessee (2008; 5-2-0, .714) (l)
Washington (2018; 3-8-0, .273)

Key
(a) Chicago Cardinals (1920–1959), St. Louis Cardinals (1960–1987), Phoenix Cardinals (1988–1993)
(b) Does not include 1–0 record of unrelated AAFC team of same name
(c) Decatur Staleys (1920), Chicago Staleys (1921)
(d) Does not include 3–0 record when team was a member of the AAFC
(e) Baltimore Colts (1953–1983)
(f) Only active franchise to have never played on Thanksgiving
(g) Dallas Texans (1960–1962), does not include 1–0 record of unrelated NFL Dallas Texans
(h) San Diego Chargers (1961–2016)
(i) Cleveland Rams (1937–1945), does not include 1936 AFL’s Cleveland Rams
(j) New York Titans (1960–1962)
(k) Does not include 1–0 record when team was a member of the AAFC
(l) Houston Oilers (1960–1996), Tennessee Oilers (1997–1998)

Thanksgiving Day records of defunct teams (League teams only, since 1920.)
Team (W-L-T, Pct.)
Frankford Yellow Jackets (2-0, 1.000) (Defunct in 1931)
New York Yankees* (2-0, 1.000) (Defunct in 1949)
Pottsville Maroons (2-0, 1.000 (Defunct in 1928)
Boston Yanks (1-0, 1.000) (Defunct in 1948)
Buffalo Bills* (1-0, 1.000) (Defunct in 1949) (a)
Dallas Texans (1-0, 1.000) (Defunct – 1952) (b)
Los Angeles Buccaneers (1-0, 1.000) (Defunct in 1926)
Oorang Indians (1-0, 1.000) (Defunct – 1923)
Rock Island Independents (1-0, 1.000) (Defunct in 1925)
All-Tonawanda Lumberjacks (1-0, 1.000) (Defunct in 1921)
Akron Pros (3-1-1, .700) (Defunct in 1926)
Buffalo Bisons (1-1-1, .500; Buffalo All-Americans (1920–1923) (Defunct in 1929)
Canton Bulldogs (1-1-1, .500) (Defunct in 1926)
Cleveland Bulldogs (1-1, .500)(Defunct in 1927)
Dayton Triangles (1-1, .500) (Defunct in 1929)
Kansas City Cowboys (1-1, .500; Kansas City Blues (1924)(Defunct in 1926)
Milwaukee Badgers (1-1, .500 (Defunct in 1926)
Brooklyn Lions (0-1, .000) (Defunct in 1926)
Chicago Tigers (0-1, .000) (Defunct in 1920)
Detroit Heralds (0-1, .000) (Defunct in 1920)
New York Yanks (0-1, .000) (Defunct in 1950)
Providence Steam Roller (0-1, .000) (Defunct in 1931)
Racine Legion (0-1, .000) (Defunct in 1926)
Toledo Maroons (0-1, .000) (Defunct in 1923)
Brooklyn Dodgers* (0-2, .000) (Defunct in 1949)
Chicago Hornets* (0-2, .000; Chicago Rockets (1946–1948) (Defunct in 1949)
Columbus Panhandles (0-2, .000) (Defunct in 1926)
Detroit Panthers (0-2, .000) (Defunct in 1926)
Hammond Pros (0-2, .000) (Defunct in 1926)
Rochester Jeffersons (0-2, .000) (Defunct in 1925)
Los Angeles Dons* (0-3, .000) (Defunct in 1949)
*All-America Football Conference team.

(a) unrelated to current NFL team with this name
(b) does not count AFL’s Dallas Texans, which are now the Kansas City Chiefs

The last currently active franchise to have never played on Thanksgiving through 2018 is the Jacksonville Jaguars, who joined the league in 1995.

An idiosyncrasy in the NFL’s current scheduling formula, which has been in effect in its basic form since 2002, effectively prevented teams from the AFC North from playing the Lions or Cowboys on Thanksgiving, as the formula had the AFC North playing in Dallas or Detroit in years when the other team was slated to play the AFC game on Thanksgiving. These teams, under the television contracts in place at the time, could only play in the third (night) game. With the changes in the scheduling practices in 2014, the division is no longer barred from participating in the game (since both CBS and Fox can choose teams from either conference; because of the idiosyncrasy, the AFC North team would, if chosen, always play on Fox). In practice, the changes have led to fewer AFC games, as the league has regularly scheduled the Lions and Cowboys’ division rivals for the contests so that ratings are maximized; eight out of the twelve Thanksgiving games involving the Lions or Cowboys since 2014 have involved a team in the same division, while only two (a 2017 contest between the Cowboys and Los Angeles Chargers and a 2019 contest between the Cowboys and Buffalo Bills) have involved the AFC.

The Los Angeles Rams have the longest active appearance drought of any team, with their last appearance coming in 1975. Among current NFL markets, Cleveland has had the longest wait to have a team from its city play on Thanksgiving; the Browns last appeared in 1989, several years before suspending operations in 1995 and have not appeared in the game since rejoining the league as an expansion team in 1999.

Since 2010, several appearance droughts have ended. New Orleans, Cincinnati, Baltimore, Houston, and Carolina all played their first Thanksgiving games during this time frame. San Francisco likewise played their first Thanksgiving game since 1972 in 2011 and the Los Angeles Chargers, who last played on the holiday in 1969 (while the team was still an AFL franchise in San Diego) before actually joining the league, appeared for the first time as an NFL member in 2017.