The Student News Site of University of California - San Diego

The UCSD Guardian

The Student News Site of University of California - San Diego

The UCSD Guardian

The Student News Site of University of California - San Diego

The UCSD Guardian

Thanksgiving and football: An American tradition

Thanksgiving+and+football%3A+An+American+tradition
Photo by Michelle Deng/ UCSD Guardian

With Thanksgiving comes many traditions celebrated all across the country. Many Americans spend the holiday watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, spending time with loved ones, and of course, filling their stomachs with turkey and pie. But for sports fans like myself, there’s another tradition that’s just as exciting as the rest. And as fun as it may be, I’m not talking about the dog show. I’m talking about the extra day of NFL football.

 

Thanksgiving and football go about as well together as the gravy we put on our turkey. It’s the all-American sport for the all-American holiday, and it has been that way since the NFL was formed in the 1920s. An urban legend says the tradition began as a Thanksgiving duel, with the loser being relegated out of the league. While the stakes may not be as high today, the pairing of football and Thanksgiving lives on, over 100 years later.

 

Since 2006, the NFL has treated us to three games on Thanksgiving day. There’s the morning game hosted by the Detroit Lions, the afternoon game hosted by the Dallas Cowboys, and the evening game, which is usually between two playoff contenders. These matchups have provided several iconic moments throughout the years. In 1993, Dallas had all but beaten the Miami Dolphins after a missed field goal with seconds left, only for Pro Bowler Leon Lett to botch the kickoff recovery and hand Miami the win. In 1998, a controversial coin toss in overtime gave the Lions the ball, and ultimately, the victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers. And come on, who can forget the Butt Fumble?

 

This year’s slate of games brought us more memorable Thanksgiving football. The Lions kicked off the day by hosting their division rivals in the Green Bay Packers. The Lions have been playing Thanksgiving games since 1934, though it’s possible this season is the best we’ve seen from them. That being said, Detroit has struggled on Thanksgiving in years gone by, and the Packers have always given them a challenge. Fresh off his best outing last Sunday, the Packers’ Jordan Love kept the momentum rolling by leading a long touchdown drive on each of his first two possessions. That, and a fumble return touchdown, gave the Packers a 20–6 lead after the first quarter. While the Lions made a valiant comeback effort, several failed 4th down conversions led to the Lions falling short, 29–22. The win put the Packers back in the wild-card hunt, while the Lions NFC North lead shrunk with the loss.

 

Then, as Thanksgiving festivities began in households across the country, the Dallas Cowboys, “America’s team,” hosted their division rivals, the Washington Commanders. Led by their defense and a heating-up offense, the Cowboys are a strong contender in the NFC. The Cowboys feasted on the young and mistake-prone Commanders, with Dak Prescott throwing for 4 touchdowns while DaRon Bland broke the record for most Pick-6s in a single season, at 5. As many of the Cowboys dug into their Thanksgiving turkey, the rest of the team finished the job, winning 45–10.

 

Finally, the top dogs in the NFC West, the San Francisco 49ers and the Seattle Seahawks, battled it out for control of the division. The 12th man in Seattle typically makes it tough for the 49ers, but this year the Seahawks didn’t have answers for the opposing offense. Christian McCaffrey and Deebo Samuel were too much for the Seahawks, and Geno Smith was stifled by the 49ers’ defense. While the Seahawks gave themselves a chance in the third quarter with a Pick-6, the 49ers closed the game out, winning 31–13.

 

This year’s Thanksgiving games also served as a touching tribute to the late John Madden. The Hall of Fame coach turned NFL commentator passed away less than two years ago, a huge blow to fans of the game. Madden loved football’s Thanksgiving tradition as much as he loved his famed turducken. Throughout the afternoon, fans were shown stories of Madden’s contributions to the sport and his kindness towards others. Players wore an emblem of Madden on their jerseys to honor his legacy. The recently rebranded John Madden Thanksgiving Celebration will continue to honor him, and provide many great moments in the years to come.

Leave a Comment
About the Contributors
Ryan Kirton, Contributing Writer
I am a junior majoring in Psychology and Communications and I am on the swim team.
Michelle Deng, Artist
More to Discover
Donate to The UCSD Guardian
$200
$500
Contributed
Our Goal

Your donation will support the student journalists at University of California, San Diego. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment, keep printing our papers, and cover our annual website hosting costs.

Donate to The UCSD Guardian
$200
$500
Contributed
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The UCSD Guardian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *