Every year millions of Americans gather around the television with friends and family to watch football on Thanksgiving. While many teams have played on the holiday, the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys play host an NFL Thaksgiving game each year.
According to Time, the Lions first played on Thanksgiving in 1934 against the Chicago Bears. At the time, pro football was not as popular as high school and college football. The Lions owner got the idea to host an important game on Thanksgiving to try to attract more attention to his team.
It worked as he expected it would and the Lions continued to play on Thanksgiving in the years to come. The Lions owner used his connections as a radio executive to ensure that the game was broadcast all over the country. The only time the Lions have not hosted a game on Thanksgiving was during World War II.
While the Lions were the team that began the tradition, the Dallas Cowboys began playing on Thanksgiving in the 1960’s. Since then both the Cowboys and Lions play every Thanksgiving. The Lions normally are the first NFL game followed by the Cowboys.