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Lions vs. Cowboys

Justin Chen, Writer

Every Thanksgiving, the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys each host a game against different NFL teams in their respective stadiums. This tradition has been going on for years, not many are familiar with the story behind why these two teams play on this holiday.

For the Detroit Lions, it all started when the Lions were still a young and small franchise. The team initially began in Portsmouth, Ohio as the Spartans, but the tiny town did not have the money and support for a pro team starting out in the NFL. Thus, Detroit radio station owner George A. Richards bought the team in 1934 and moved it to Detroit later that year. However, there was already a booming team residing in Detroit—the Tigers. Although the Tigers were in the MLB, Detroit only had the stomach to support one pro team. In 1934, the biggest crowd the Lions could bring in was only 15,000, a fraction compared to other pro team audiences. Because of this, Richards was desperate to get the Lions more attention. He thought of the idea of playing a game on Thanksgiving against the Chicago Bears. Using his radio station as an outlet for advertising, he managed to sell-out the 26,000-seat stadium and even had to turn away fans at the gate. Every year since then, the Lions play against a different team; this year, they played against the Minnesota Vikings.

As for the Dallas Cowboys, they too were looking for a way to increase popularity for their team throughout the city and state. However, Cowboys general manager Tex Schramm was worried that the Texans would not enjoy holiday football as much as Detroit citizens do since Thanksgiving is meant to be spent with family. In addition, the NFL reciprocated this worry and decided to guarantee the team a certain gate revenue in case nobody bought tickets. However, they were completely wrong. Fans showed up in swarms, and the Cowboys broke their attendance record that day with 80,259 crammed into the Cotton Bowl. This Thanksgiving, the team battled the Los Angeles Chargers.

Photo courtesy of NEWSDAY.COM

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