Here’s why the Lions always play on Thanksgiving, explained

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If it looks like the Detroit Lions are still playing Thanksgiving, well, that’s because they do.

The Lions’ annual tradition of playing during the American vacation, which began in 1934, is almost as old as the franchise itself. In fact, they’re the number one reason soccer and Thanksgiving are synonymous, even though the Lions haven’t seen as much success during the holidays as other franchises.

Here’s a brief history lesson, plus a full list of past games and how to watch the 2021 release while filling your face with turkey and pie.

Why do Lions always play Thanksgiving?

It all started on Thanksgiving Day in 1934, when owner George A. Richards decided to play over the holidays to attract more fans.

Richards was known for his marketing skills and his Thanksgiving plan was an immediate success. The Lions back then weren’t very popular because the Detroit Tigers were the city’s main sporting attraction. But this Thanksgiving, the Lions not only sold the stadium, they also had to turn people away at the gates.

The Lions lost to the Bears, but a new team tradition was born.

Other teams had played Thanksgiving before 1934, but the Lions were different because Richards owned a radio station that was a major affiliate of the NBC Blue Network. Richards brokered a deal with NBC to broadcast his Thanksgiving games on 94 stations across the country.

Since 1978, the Lions and Cowboys have hosted a Thanksgiving game every year. Detroit still plays the start of the game, followed by Dallas in the late afternoon and a rotating prime-time clash added in 2006.

Who are the Lions playing on Thanksgiving 2021?

The Lions face the Bears on Thanksgiving in 2021. This is the 17th time these franchises have met over the holidays, 34-30, with their most recent 24-20 Bears victory in 2019.

What channel is Lions vs. Bears playing on?

CBS will air Lions vs. Bears this year. Kick-off is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. ET – the first game of the day, according to tradition.

Lions record on Thanksgiving

The Lions are 37-42-2 on Thanksgiving in franchise history.

Year Opponent Results
1934 Chicago Bear L, 19-16
1935 Chicago Bear W, 14-2
1936 Chicago Bear F, 13-7
1937 Chicago Bear G, 13-0
1938 Chicago Bear F, 14-7
[1945 Les béliers de Cleveland L, 28-21
1946 Yankees de Boston L, 34-10
1947 Ours de Chicago L, 34-14
1948 Cartes de Chicago L, 28-14
1949 Ours de Chicago L, 28-7
1950 Yankees de New York W, 49-14
1951 Packers de Green Bay F, 52-35
1952 Packers de Green Bay F, 48-24
1953 Packers de Green Bay F, 34-15
1954 Packers de Green Bay F, 28-24
1955 Packers de Green Bay F, 24-10
1956 Packers de Green Bay L, 24-20
1957 Packers de Green Bay F, 18-6
1958 Packers de Green Bay F, 24-14
1959 Packers de Green Bay L, 24-17
1960 Packers de Green Bay F, 23-10
1961 Packers de Green Bay L, 17-9
1962 Packers de Green Bay F, 26-14
1963 Packers de Green Bay T, 13-13
1964 Ours de Chicago L, 27-24
1965 Colts de Baltimore T, 24-24
1966 49ers de San Francisco L, 41-14
1967 Les Rams de Los Angeles L, 31-7
1968 Aigles de Philadelphie L, 12-0
1969 Vikings du Minnesota L, 27-0
1970 Aventuriers d’Oakland F, 28-14
1971 Les chefs de Kansas City W, 32-21
1972 Jets de New York F, 37-20
1973 Peaux-Rouges de Washington G, 20-0
1974 Denver Broncos L, 31-27
1975 Les Rams de Los Angeles G, 20-0
1976 Billets de bison F, 27-14
1977 Ours de Chicago L, 31-14
1978 Denver Broncos F, 17-14
1979 Ours de Chicago F, 20-0
1980 Ours de Chicago L, 23-17 (OT)
1981 Les chefs de Kansas City F, 27-10
1982 Géants de New York L, 13-6
1983 Steelers de Pittsburgh F, 45-3
1984 Packers de Green Bay F, 31-28
1985 Jets de New York F, 31-20
1986 Packers de Green Bay L, 44-40
1987 Les chefs de Kansas City L, 27-20
1988 Vikings du Minnesota G, 23-0
1989 Cleveland Browns W, 13-10
1990 Denver Broncos F, 40-27
1991 Ours de Chicago F, 16-6
1992 Texans de Houston L, 24-21
1993 Ours de Chicago L, 10-6
1994 Billets de bison F, 35-21
1995 Vikings du Minnesota F, 44-38
1996 Les chefs de Kansas City L, 28-24
1997 Ours de Chicago F, 55-20
1998 Steelers de Pittsburgh F, 19-16 (OT)
1999 Ours de Chicago F, 21-17
2000 Patriots de la Nouvelle-Angleterre W, 34-9
2001 Packers de Green Bay L, 29-27
2002 Patriots de la Nouvelle-Angleterre L, 20-12
2003 Packers de Green Bay W, 22-14
2004 Colts d’Indianapolis L, 41-9
2005 Falcons d’Atlanta L, 27-7
2006 Dauphins de Miami L, 27-10
2007 Packers de Green Bay L, 37-26
2008 Titans du Tennessee L, 47-10
2009 Packers de Green Bay L, 34-12
2010 Patriots de la Nouvelle-Angleterre L, 45-24
2011 Packers de Green Bay L, 27-15
2012 Texans de Houston L, 34-31 (OT)
2013 Packers de Green Bay F, 40-10
2014 Ours de Chicago F, 34-17
2015 Aigles de Philadelphie F, 45-14
2016 Vikings du Minnesota F, 16-13
2017 Vikings du Minnesota L, 30-23
2018 Ours de Chicago L, 23-16
2019 Ours de Chicago L, 24-20
2020 Texans de Houston L, 41-25

Jeux notables :

1962 — Les Lions ont donné aux Packers de Green Bay leur seule défaite cette saison. Green Bay a terminé 13-1 et a remporté son deuxième championnat consécutif de la NFL.

1980 — Les Lions et les Bears étaient à égalité 17-17 à la fin du règlement. C’était le premier match de Thanksgiving à passer en prolongation, et lorsque le porteur de ballon des Bears Dave Williams a renvoyé le coup d’envoi de l’OT pour un touché, il est également devenu la prolongation la plus courte à 13 secondes – un record de saison régulière qui se tient aujourd’hui.

1986 — Les Lions and Packers ont joué le match le plus marquant de l’histoire de Thanksgiving à ce jour, 44-40, Green Bay remportant le W.

2008 — Les Titans 10-1 ont battu les Lions 0-11 47-10, l’un des plus gros différentiels de points de l’histoire de Thanksgiving. Les Lions ont terminé la saison 0-16.


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