In 1902, the "National" Football League, a Major League Baseball-backed organization based entirely in Pennsylvania and unrelated to the current NFL, attempted to settle its championship over Thanksgiving weekend; after the game ended in a tie, eventually all three teams in the league claimed to have won the title.
Members of the Ohio League, during its early years, usually placed their marquee matchups on Thanksgiving Day.
Louis Cardinals replaced Dallas as a host team (Dallas then hosted St. Although the Cardinals, at the time known as the "Cardiac Cards" due to their propensity for winning very close games, were a modest success at the time, they were nowhere near as popular nationwide as the Cowboys, who were regular Super Bowl contenders during this era. Louis's consistently weak attendance, a series of ugly Cardinals losses in the three-game stretch, and opposition from the Kirkwood–Webster Groves Turkey Day Game (a local high school football contest) led to Dallas resuming regular hosting duties in 1978; it was then, after Rozelle asked Dallas to resume hosting Thanksgiving games, that the Cowboys requested (and received) an agreement guaranteeing the Cowboys a spot on Thanksgiving Day forever. Louis-hosted games in 19, the two "traditional" Thanksgiving Day pro football games since the 1970 AFL–NFL merger have then been in Detroit and Dallas.
In 1966, the Dallas Cowboys, who had been founded six years earlier, adopted the practice of hosting Thanksgiving games.
It is widely rumored that the Cowboys sought a guarantee that they would regularly host Thanksgiving games as a condition of their very first one (since games on days other than Sunday were uncommon at the time and thus high attendance was not a certainty).
For the black college football rivalry, see Turkey Day Classic.
The National Football League (NFL) on Thanksgiving Day is a traditional series of games played during the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States.
This article is about the series of National Football League games.
For the Canadian Football League games, see Thanksgiving Day Classic.
It originally aired on the NFL Network as part of its Thursday Night Football package until 2011; NBC began carrying the night game in 2012.
The Thanksgiving night game has no fixed opponents or conferences, enabling the league to freely choose whatever marquee match-up to feature on that night.
The first two are hosted by the Detroit Lions and the Dallas Cowboys; a third game, with no fixed opponents, has been played annually since 2006.