Detroit Lions Play on Thanksgiving: In 1934, the Lions played a Thanksgiving game for the first time. This was their debut year in Motor City. In the past, they played under the name Portsmouth Spartans and were based out of Ohio’s Portsmouth. The franchise was purchased by George Richards, a radio executive and relocated to Detroit. The Lions were struggling to make a name for themselves in their new city of residence.
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Why do Detroit Lions play on Thanksgiving?
The Detroit Heralds’ 7-0 loss to the Canton Bulldogs on Thanksgiving in 1917 marked the beginning of a long-standing tradition of Detroit-based football teams playing on Thanksgiving. After that, there were a total of five more games between Detroit teams before 1928.
However, the Lions’ annual Thanksgiving game has been a staple of the franchise ever since their 1934 debut as the Detroit Lions, one year after they had been purchased and rebranded from the Portsmouth Spartans. In an effort to boost flagging attendance for the newly relocated franchise, Lions owner George A. Richards and the NFL scheduled a Thanksgiving game for the team.
In their inaugural season, the Lions faced their current greatest rivals, the Chicago Bears. The Bears’ lengthy tradition of playing on Thanksgiving dates back to 1922. They saw it as a publicity stunt at the time, but the Lions eventually came around to the idea. And yet, doing so would spark a custom that has persisted for the past 87 years.
Other teams had a much longer history of playing on Thanksgiving than the Lions did when they played their first game. Both the Bears and the Chicago Cardinals had played on that date for over ten years.
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Why do the Detroit Lions deserve to play on Thanksgiving?
Any game played on the national stage must leave fans wanting more. Their goal is to have the audience on the edge of their seats throughout its entirety causing them to return the following week. The Lions leave fans wanting more options after their games.
Thanksgiving is not the only opportunity teams have to have more eyes on them. The NFL gives teams chances to thrive in front of the entire country weekly. The week officially begins with Thursday Night Football. Sunday Night Football ends the week, while Monday Night Football is the encore fans may or may not have requested.
— NFL (@NFL) November 25, 2020
The top teams hog the spotlight from the rest, especially with the league flexing certain games. The Patriots, Buccaneers, Chiefs, and Ravens have taken up residency on the national stage. The Detroit football team might get invited to play in front of a national audience once a season.
Thanksgiving is their only chance to have the light shined on them, even if they have to start a third-string quarterback off the practice squad. They make it work. The Lions have transformed into the league’s court jester, wondering about the next blunder to land on the not-top ten or what crazy factor will lead them to lose another game. However, the Lions are more than that, unfortunately.
Dan Campbell dedicates a lot of time and effort to rebuild the franchise into a legitimate threat. Unfortunately, the roster does not have the talent to make a highlight reel; instead, their work ethic determines their success.
How Lions Owner Takes Control and Creates a Thanksgiving Tradition?
The business savvy of the Lions’ owner is what allowed the team to turn its attendance-boosting “gimmick” of playing on Thanksgiving into a tradition older than most Americans. Richards was the owner of NBC Blue Network’s flagship radio station at the time, WJR. He leveraged this relationship to get NBC to broadcast the Lions’ Thanksgiving games nationwide.
The Lions now have more leverage thanks to Richards’s play. The original “gimmick” had helped boost attendance and now they were linked to a major broadcast network. Richards would win the bet as the Lions’ first Thanksgiving game would sell out its allotment of 26,000 seats.
Because of these two factors, the NFL had no problem with the Lions playing on Thanksgiving. After WWII ended, the Lions’ home Thanksgiving game became an annual tradition in the NFL.
Any game played on the national stage must leave fans wanting more. Their goal is to have the audience on the edge of their seats throughout its entirety causing them to return the following week. For more updates on other sports activities stay connected with us on our website venturejolt.com.