Thanksgiving Football is an American Tradition

Thanksgiving once again delivered a terrific batch of NFL games. The Detroit Lions beat the Green Bay Packers 40-10, the Dallas Cowboys topped the Oakland Raiders 31-21, and the Baltimore Ravens held on to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 22-20.

While the games this year were as entertaining as ever, it is important to recognize how significant a role football on Thanksgiving plays in our lives.

Football on the fourth Thursday in November dates back to the very beginnings of the game itself. The first Thanksgiving Day game was played in 1869 in Philadelphia, less than two weeks after Princeton defeated Rutgers in what is considered to be the first American football game.

The tradition of playing football on Thanksgiving began in 1876, when Yale and Princeton played each other in the first of what would be many Thanksgiving meetings. This tradition further solidified itself in the games between the University of Michigan and the Chicago Maroons, who played each other from 1885 to 1905.

The National Football League and Thanksgiving have gone hand-in-hand from the league’s inception in 1920, yet the first major game happened in 1934. The game was between the Detroit Lions and the Chicago Bears, in the inaugural year of Detroit hosting the annual Thanksgiving game.

While the Bears won the game 19-16, the defeat nonetheless sparked an 80-year tradition for the Lions that has continued through this most recent win over the Packers. The Dallas Cowboys adopted the other Thanksgiving game in 1966, and since then, Dallas has hosted a game each year alongside Detroit.

“I’ve always loved football on Thanksgiving,” said Ramapo senior Mike Puzino. “There are always great games on TV that my whole family watches together after we eat. Football really has a way of bringing people together, and it’s especially true on Thanksgiving.”

Ramapo sophomore Vin Pellillo added, “I’m actually not that big of a football fan, but me and my family always watch at least one game every Thanksgiving. I don’t see my relatives that often, and football honestly gives us something to talk about when we’ve exhausted all other topics of conversation.”