Why do the Detroit Lions always play on Thanksgiving Day? Some history

Detroit Lions fans dress for Thanksgiving at Ford Field on November 23, 2017 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

DETROIT – Why are we forced to watch the Detroit Lions every Thanksgiving?

It all started when the Lions were actually the Portsmouth Spartans back in 1929. In 1934, owner George Richards bought the team and moved it to Detroit.

The Lions, at that time, were looking for new ways to draw fans. As a marketing idea, Richards convinced NBC to broadcast a Thanksgiving game on 94 stations across the country.

It worked. The Lions would end up selling out their first Thanksgiving Day game (26,000 seats), and even though they lost to the Bears, a new tradition was born.

Here's why the Dallas Cowboys play on Thanksgiving:

The Cowboys had a similar motive for wanting to play on Thanksgiving. The team was looking to boost its popularity and in 1966, they had the chance to play on Thanksgiving.

Cowboys general manager Tex Schramm thought it was a great chance to showcase the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders on a national scale.

The Cowboys signed up for a Thanksgiving Day game, even though the league was worried fans might not show up in Texas, on a holiday.

They were wrong. The Cowboys broke their previous attendance record in their first Thanksgiving game against the Cleveland Browns, which they won 26-14. A new NFL tradition was born.

VIEW: Detroit Lions all-time record in Thanksgiving Day game

About the Author:

Ken Haddad is the digital content and audience manager for WDIV / ClickOnDetroit.com. He also authors the Morning Report Newsletter and various other newsletters. He's been with WDIV since 2013. He enjoys suffering through Lions games on Sundays in the fall.