November 23, 2022

Happy Thanksgiving!

We won't be visiting again until after Thanksgiving, so let me be among the first to wish you the greetings of the season. I make no secret of the fact that Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, second only to Christmas, and the memories I have of it are almost uniformly warm ones. 

For me, Thanksgiving primarily means taking considered time to give thanks. As I believe I have done in the past, I want to thank all of you for your support over the past year: your financial contributions, your comments, the articles you've written, and for taking time every week to stop by and see what's new.

Three other things that Thanksgiving means to me: parades, football, and food. Even though I don't follow the NFL anymore, the history of football on Thanksgiving is undeniable. I've written before about one of the greatest college football games in history, the 1971 Game of the Century between Nebraska and Oklahoma, but I don't know if I've ever admitted that I accidentally fell asleep during it. I'd been indulged by some generous relatives who allowed me to have my dinner on a tray in one of the bedrooms so I could watch the game on TV (millions of people did likewise, I'll add in my defense—there was a huge television audience for the game), and, well, you know what can happen with a full Thanksgiving stomach. Tryptophan or not, I couldn't stay awake, and woke up just before Nebraska scored the winning touchdown in the final minutes. As I was rooting for Oklahoma anyway, it's probably just as well.

Arguably the most famous professional game played on Thanksgiving was in 1962, the annual game between the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions at Tiger Stadium in Detroit. I'm not going to claim I remember this game, because I was only two years old, but I've certainly read enough about it. The defending champion Packers came into the game with a record of 10-0, having totally dominated most of their opponents; historians would later rank this one of the greatest teams in NFL history. The Lions, 8-2, had given the Pack their only really close game earlier in the year, losing 9-7 in Green Bay. In the game, the Lions sacked Packers QB Bart Starr 11 times (including once for a safety) and totally dominated Green Bay, racing out to a 26-0 lead en route to a 26-14 drubbing that wasn't nearly as close as the final score indicated. (Apropos of the day, one sportswriter said it looked as if Roger Brown and Alex Karras, the Lions' two defensive stars, were ready to take Starr by the legs and make a wish.) It was said that Lombardi was so furious about that loss that he ended the annual Thanksgiving game against the Lions; the teams had played every Thanksgiving since 1951, but after the 1963 game thy would not meet again on Thanksgiving until 1984.

Two other Thanksgiving games, both involving the Dallas Cowboys, merit mention. In 1974, backup quarterback Clint Longley came off the bench to replace an injured Roger Staubach and threw two touchdown passes, including a 50-yard bomb in the last half-minute, to defeat the Washington Redskins 24-23. Nineteen years later, in 1993, the field covered in snow from a freak storm and the Cowboys up 14-13 against the Miami Dolphins with 15 seconds to play, Miami had their game-winning field goal attempt blocked. All the Pokes had to do was let the roll dead and the game would be over, but inexplicably Dallas defender Leon Lett tried to recover the ball, slipped on the snow, and muffed the ball. The Dolphins recovered, kicked the field goal with one second to play, and won the game, 19-17. 

Stranger and greater things have happened during football's long and glorious history, but these games stand out; they're remembered decades later because they happened on Thanksgiving, with families gathered around the television, sharing fellowship and food while watching a sport that has become synonymous with the day. That's one of the things holidays are about though—creating memories. I have many happy ones of my own from Thanksgiving, and I hope you'll all have some tomorrow that you can look back on fondly in the years to come. 

Happy Thanksgiving! TV  


  1. I am thankful for the effort and passion you put into this site, Mitchell. Reading your analyses each week is a vital part of my regular schedule and bring back fond memories. Have a restful Thanksgiving!

  2. While the NFL has a long history of playing Thanksgiving games, let's not forget that the AFL played games on the holiday as well. The Titans and Texans played the first one on November 24, 1960. In a typical shootout, the Titans won 41-35, witnessed by 14,344 fans according to the NY Daily News---the highest scoring AFL game so far in its nascent season.

    In one of the more exciting games of the 1962 season, the nearly bankrupt Titans traveled to Bears Stadium in Denver on November 22 (exactly one year before the JFK assassination) and nipped the Broncos 46-45.

    On November 23, 1967, the AFL stated playing doubleheaders with Oakland beating KC 44-22 followed by the Chargers winning against the visiting Broncos 24-20.

    For a year-by-year rundown, check this link. Some of the AFL Thanksgiving games were more competitive than their NFL counterparts.

    1. I remember some of those AFL games in KC; I was looking at an issue the other day that had two NFL games, two AFL games, and two college games. The way Thanksgiving should be!


Thanks for writing! Drive safely!