Thanksgiving is the ultimate triple F holiday: Family, food and most importantly, football. The NFL features three match-ups on each Thanksgiving day to help bring the family together, as if the turkey was not enough. Although sports fans are typically resistant to altering long-lasting traditions, this one requires some tweaking.
Since 1966, the Dallas Cowboys have played against another team on Thanksgiving, accumulating a record of 29-18-1. As much as we love the state of Texas, the way this tradition is set up is unfair. First off, the Thanksgiving game is always held at the Cowboys’ stadium. That is, the turkey bowl is always a home game for Dallas. Why not make the boys from the Lone Star State travel every other year? This would switch the mojo up and give some more air time for other teams to broaden the audience.
While we’re at it, why even have the Dallas Cowboys be the team we watch year in and year out? This tradition began before the whole “America’s team” label took off in the late 1970s anyway. The Bengals don’t play in London every year. The Saints aren’t the only team to play on Thursday nights. And yet, the players with a star on their helmet prevail every year on our television screens.
Secondly, the game is even tougher for the visiting team this year. The Redskins play the Packers Sunday night, November 20th, just four days before they fly to Dallas. Dating back to last week, this will mean that the Redskins will play three games in 12 days. That’s not a ton of rest time while the Cowboys don’t have to move.
The Detroit Lions are the only other team that host the other Thanksgiving game every year. People don’t have polarizing opinions about the Lions nationwide nearly as much as they do the Cowboys. It’s just a football fact: you either love or hate the Dallas Cowboys.
There’s another slight unfair aspect here, however. Both the Cowboys and the Lions are NFC teams. It is only one game of the sixteen game season, but the league should be as fair as possible. So, why not have the conference take turns playing? The teams that play in the third game are always randomized, which is the way it should be for all three showdowns.
The final change I recommend the league consider is give whichever teams play on Thanksgiving their bye week on the week prior. Again, this goes back to this idea of allowing the teams more time to rest. This would mean that we should also allow a bye week for any team that plays on a Thursday night. Some payers have already come out against Thursday night games anyway, citing that they’d like more time to rest as well.
Enough about “America’s team.” Football is America’s game and if we are going to live up to that title, then we should feature all 32 teams across the nation on our country’s hungriest holiday, and in as fair fashion as possible.
Cut the turkey, pass the stuffing and enjoy the game, whichever teams may pop up on your television. Happy Thanksgiving to all the devoted NFL fans.
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