Conference Champs Should Host Thanksgiving Day Games

For our Monday entry at, we offered up ten proposed changes for consideration by the NFL powers-that-be during their current league meetings in California.
One proposed change turned out to be particularly relevant, given that the league announced on Monday afternoon the participants in the Thanksgiving afternoon contests hosted by the Lions and the Cowboys.
For the early game, it’ll be the Packers and the Lions in a matchup that likely will induce slumber even before the ingestion of tryptophan.
For the late game, to be aired this year by CBS, there were two choices in visiting teams — the Chargers and the Raiders.
And the league chose the Raiders.
As reasoned in our piece, the league doesn’t have to trot out good games on Turkey Day, since we’ll watch whatever the NFL serves up — even if it’s a game of over-60 celebrity flag football.
But why not make Thanksgiving truly special?  Just as the first game of the regular season now gives the defending champs a home game in prime time, why not give the two teams that make it to the Super Bowl the pair of home games during Thanksgiving afternoon?
The move instantly would make Thanksgiving football far more compelling, and it would send a message to the fans that the NFL is sufficiently thankful for its audience to not take it for granted.

71 responses to “Conference Champs Should Host Thanksgiving Day Games

  1. Anything to save us from having to watch the Lions suck year after year after year after year on Thanksgiving.

  2. Two games in five days is punishment, why would they punish teams that way? The Thanksgiving games suck because the teams play on the Sunday before Thanksgiving. It’s fitting you wouldn’t notice this…then again, maybe no one notices due to the Lions always being one of the teams playing.

  3. Sure take away the game from the team that started the game in the first place, because no one else wanted it.
    You need to get off the NFL’s nuts Florio and learn to deal with the Lions being there.
    You know why it won’t change? Because no one else wants to play on 4 days rest.

  4. It doesn’t mean it will be compelling at all. Just like any team can go from sucking to winning the super in one year see 1999 Rams. A team can go the other way around too. The Cards if you remember were really bad this past thanksgiving and could be so again this year. And going by the same theory the Lions will bounce back one year.

  5. I think that idea is far better then then anything they can offer us right now.
    Once again Florio, you have thrown out an idea that just might get snatched up by the league.
    You might want to start trademarking these things. You never know, you make enough to quit being a lawyer someday.

  6. wrong florio WRONG. Its tradition to watch the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving. I mean its like replacing turkey with tofu dogs from what you’re suggesting. Sure it would be good for you but do we really want it HELL NO! Thank god you’re not in the NFL or we’d have the WVU Mountaineers vs The Patriots every thanksgiving

  7. I got a better idea… leave well enough alone. Tradition is tradition and they now put another game on at night to handle everyone that has some strange issue with two teams keeping what was given to them over 40 years ago.

  8. Florio, as usual you make a good pitch and then throw it between the catchers feet (One more reason not to watch baseball).
    Why not have the conference championship losers host the turkeyshoot?
    At least we don’t have to hear about the Superbowl loss hangover again.

  9. …and back to capitalizing the first letter of each word in the RSS titles. Make up your mind Florio!

  10. I disagree. I(and probably most) only half watch the early game because I am cooking and talking with family/friends. We eat during the 2nd half of the Lions, then settle in at 4:00 to fart in our sleep while the Cowboys play and the women do the dishes.
    Then we try to be long since on our way home during the “late” game, so as to avoid any further contact than necessary with our kin, and usually miss that game, too.

  11. Thinking about it, since the Super Bowl losers curse is still kind of effective on its prey, I don’t know if that’ll be a sufficient upgrade over the Lions. Or maybe for a compelling game, just keep the Lions on Thanksgiving day and have them play the Super Bowl losers.

  12. Commenting on your TSN piece, the teams can already pick whatever spot they want in the draft. They can either trade down (take less value than the chart) or wait to make their pick. That seems better than picking a slot in something as fluid as the draft.

  13. i actually like the lions on thanksgiving. you watch them go down 42-0 in the first quarter, then fall asleep knowing damn well you saw the whole game.

  14. Mike, I think that most players and coaches would rather be at home on Thanksgiving day with their families eating turkey.
    I would take off work every TG if my boss would let me.
    TG Day, Christmas Day, Christmas Eve, Independence Day, heck yes, I want to be at home with my family.
    I am sure that most of the NFL players don’t need the extra bucks.

  15. No Packer game induces slumber.
    Traditionally the Lions give their best effort on Thanksgiving.
    In fact the Thankgiving game tradition was always Green Bay at Detroit until Vince Lombardi stopped it due to the natural disadvantage of the Packers always being the visitor on a short week.
    Now the league is sticking their nose into the Lions business. Thanks Matt Millen.

  16. Apparently the Broncos will host the Giants as the last of the tripple headed monster of Turkey football. Unless things change in Denver soon, it could become an epic tail of woe and unlimited suck with the trifecta of Broncos, Lions and Raiders.

  17. Do you not think charity comes into play too? Look at the salvation army and the Cowboys. Huge. But I guess that would go over better in Jacksonville. Tampa,Tennessee…

  18. That would make too much sense Florio.
    However it would be reason enough for the Lions to pull their heads from their asses and attempt to be relevant again.

  19. Dear Mr. Florio,
    I get what your suggesting, but I’d like to recommend that we just leave Detroit w/ their Thanksgiving day game. They have so little…, why take this away from them?
    Someone Thankful to not have this habitual short week hassle.

  20. i kinda like shitty turkey matchups. it is really annoying when family, etc are trying to interupt a good game. this way its no biggie to turn the tube off for an hour to eat, and have other stuff going on during the games. and yet, its still nice that you get to see a couple NFL teams and the lions

  21. Here’s a great idea: Have the competition committee meet once every five years. The game is fine, as a matter of fact it was better before we decided the quarterbacks and receivers were off limits. If you have a rules committee, they’re going to come up with new rules; that’s what they’re there to do. Even if the game is perfect, they are going to come up with new rules, otherwise they won’t exist. Let’s have them wait every five years to meet, that way they have some perspective on what is, and what isn’t working, instead of reacting to every issue that comes up during the course of one year. After 90 years of fine tuning, can there really be anything that NEEDS to be addressed this year?

  22. Quit complaining, the Lions haven’t been good in 50 years, it’s not like all of a sudden the whole country has to watch a bad game on Thanksgiving; it’s always been that way. Let the Cowboys and Lions keep their traditions, and hope for a good game that night. The night game is the one the NFL should really focus on. It would be something special to see a Super Bowl rematch, especially on the loser’s field; talk about giving the players something to play for that night!

  23. As usual Florio, you have made a great pitch, that went right though the catchers feet (one more reason not to like baseball). Do we have to watch the Superbowl teams again? How about the conference championship losers host a game? Nobody has to listen to the Superbowl loss hangover story again.

  24. I’m by no means a Cowboy or Lion fan, but I kind of like traditions like this. I don’t really know how or why these two teams have always played, but traditions don’t always need to make perfect sense.

  25. Great idea! Then we’d never have to watch the Raiders on turkey day again… The idea makes me ill.

  26. Can someone please answer this question for me, why all of a sudden is it such a big deal to take away the thanksgiving day games away from the lions and cowboys? Yeah i know right now the lions suck but this is not the first time they have and the cowboys have sucked in the past as well. So why now must we take the game away from them? I say just leave as it is. There is no need to change anything. If it was not for the lions starting this game to get fans to come to the games we would not even be talking about this. It is the lions game and always should be.

  27. You have no clue how much that game means to us Detroiters and the traditions we have with respect to it. Granted, the kitties have been less than the last…many years, but u know what, we detroit fans may be the best fans in football…I’d love to see any other city endure what we have the last 50 years and still be ravenous supporters of their team. This notion of ripping this from us is crap. Add another game if anything…oh wait, u already did.

  28. when the league first asked all the teams if they wanted to host a thanksgiving day game, everyone turned it down but the lions and cowboys. now, because it is such a big stage and teams have so much to gain from it, we should just kick the two teams that turned the tradition into a national past-time to the curb, huh? i say both teams get to keep it as long as they want.

  29. Well, the two NFC teams going for the Super Bowl were both 9 win teams. In this age of parity, and slappy can do anything. So saying Conference champs would be a compelling match-up is a bad assumption because any team at any time can go from the outhouse to the penthouse. Any bad team can be a good team at a moment’s notice, and a good team is likely to slide down to be a bad team the next year. Being a Conferance champ means nothing when you have two 9 win teams going for the Super Bowl.
    The NFL is actually, quite frankly, a pretty bad league when you think about it. That’s the NFL today. They’re SO lucky they have a monopoly.

  30. The Lions have been playing football on Thanksgiving since before anyone at PFT, or any of the commentors on this website, were born. Traditions are important in sports.
    This is the same kind of selfish attitude that has put our economy in a position where we owe so much to China that they could demand we give them the Louisiana Purchase.
    Any of you who want to take the Thanksgiving Day games away from Dallas and Detroit are a bunch of commie bastards.

  31. The Lions Thanksgiving game has been a Detroit tradition since before there was such a thing as television broadcasting. Go ahead and schedule another game against them for the poor suffering national audience but leave our game alone.

  32. For one, the Lions invented the Thanksgiving game. None of the other owners thought it would be profitable to play on Thanksgiving so it would be incredibly wrong to take it away from the Lions now.
    Secondly, I don’t know if you have noticed but Ford spends a couple of dollars in advertising with the NFL. How would the NFL like losing even half (if not all) of that?

  33. Can someone please answer this question for me. Why all of a sudden is there is big push to take away the thanksgiving game away from the lions and cowboys? I know that right now the lions suck and this is not the first that that they have. Also the cowboys have sucked in the past as well. So why now? I don’t think anything should change. If it was not for the lions starting this game we would not even be talking about this right now. We should be thanking the lions for haveing football on thanksgiving day. This game is the lions’s game and always will be. If you don’t like watching them then turn off your tv and spend time with your families.

  34. I’ll politely disagree with this. What’s so wrong with tradition? I have no problem with it, even with the Lions playing.

  35. I don’t agree with the Raiders pick, however as a Cowboy fan I would hate to see the game taken away from Dallas. Watching the Cowboys on Thanksgiving has been apart of my holiday since I could remember. I hope it stays that way.

  36. I don’t see the Thanksgiving games as a reward. Maybe it would be for the owners. Is it a reward to screw up a team’s schedule like that? Every year, Cowboys and Lions play on Sunday then have to turn right around four days later and play again. Usually it’s 3 games in 12 days, depending on the bye. That’s a reward?

  37. This time you got it right.
    To have the conference champions host the Thanksgiving games is perfect!
    But what to do about the 3rd game? One thing for sure, it has to get away from the NFL Network.
    But if it stays on the NFL Network it should be Cowboys vs. Lions every year.

  38. I have no problem keeping with tradition and basically have NFC North game or the norm NFC East.
    Change OT if anything…

  39. You can’t give up on traditions, especially the Cowboys on thanksgiving!
    Its almost like the tradition of me coming to this site just to see how far you can stick your foot up your @$$ on a daily basis…

  40. A solution to the Free Agency tampering issue: create a 2 week window for teams to negotiate with agents without being allowed to sign players. This would eliminate the incentive of tampering and create an even playing field for all teams.

  41. This is not a bad idea… It’s a really bad idea. Think about it, One teams fans get to watch a “gimme game” every Thanksgiving vs the Lions, and the Cowboys always draw the ratings. Plus now they have the Thanksgiving night game so that makes potentialy four different Thanksgiving teams per year. And the Lions and Cowboys can face off when they play their respective divisions. Some things might need to be changed, this isn’t one of them.

  42. Oh, this crap again. Did you pull out a ouijia board to get a comment from Lamar Hunt too?
    If anyone other than the Cowboys or Lions wanted to play on Thanksgiving, on four days rest, the game would have been rotated quite some time ago, just to shut old man Hunt up. The fact is, most teams don’t want to play on short rest, or, in a number of cases including New Orleans and Kansas City, don’t want to interfere with state High School Football Championships that occur the same day at the same facilities.
    The Lions have done this for over 70 years, excluding wartime. Yes, they suck. Yes, they’re the early game. The pre game parade is a big deal, as is the game itself. Stop pissing away traditions because you aren’t happy with what’s on your television.
    This situation is already addressed with the night game. Leave well enough alone.

  43. At least the cowgirls will be assured of 1 win this yr! Please let the night game save us!

  44. While the NFL evolves over the years, it’s nice to have a tradition or two maintained. Keep it as it is.

  45. lions will have a home game and so will the cowboys …no changes have been made.
    where is the story to this.

  46. “As reasoned in our piece, the league doesn’t have to trot out good games on Turkey Day, since we’ll watch whatever the NFL serves up — even if it’s a game of over-60 celebrity flag football.”
    I am not so sure about that. I suggest you look at the ratings for last years Thanksgiving Day games. People aren’t just tuning in, in significant numbers to watch whatever crap the NFL throws against the wall for us to watch.

  47. I’m sorry, I won’t watch Over 60 Celebrity Flag Football on Thanksgiving.
    If it’s not tackle football, I won’t watch.
    OK,OK, I’ll watch…

  48. Florio, slow down…you are getting big but you don’t run the NFL yet. Oh, yeah…blow it out your ass while you are at it.

  49. Florio, you ignorant slut.
    Last season there were NINE games played on Thursday.
    Nine !!
    There were 17 games played on Monday night and another game played on a Saturday.
    Yeah, it’s so unfair the Lions get a home game on a Thursday.
    Why don’t you go back to covering your budding bromance with Jon Stewart and leave one of the few NFL Traditions left alone.

  50. I don’t give a damn who’s playing, only whether I have some fantasy interest in the game. I can easily follow individual players on my Blackberry and don’t even need to watch…

  51. NDcowboysfan))) we all know why you don’t want florios idea to take place, because then you won’t be able to watch your stinking cowgirls on thanksgiving any more, ever! haha its okay thanksgiving football is played for those teams that suck.. florio even said it, they play those teams because they stink but they know they will still get watched because people crave football.

  52. Detroit needs to keep the Thanksgiving Day game because they are the ones that started the tradition of the NFL playing on Thanksgiving Day. If it wasn’t for the Lions fans wouldn’t have any game to watch while they eat their turkey. So if you want to watch football on Thanksgiving you should be ok watching the team that gave you that tradition in the fist place.

  53. AMEN! Im so damn tired (literally and figuratively) of watching the Lions on Thanksgiving. Now, they toss the Raiders in to the mix, as if it wasn’t crappy enough already.

  54. I am all for the Lions keeping the Thanksgiving Day game. Its tradition. The one day that is more for family then football, the Lions are a good fit.
    Let all the Lions people work on Thanksgiving. Let our teams players and staff have the day off.

  55. Boo Hoo. The Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving is Tradition.
    In the 60s, with the popularity of the NFL increasing on TV, the NFL looked around for another city to host a game on Thanksgiving Day, in order to give the NFL a Turkey Day Double Header.
    None of the other NFL cities were willing to host the game, because of the potential disruption to their normal Sunday game schedule, especially coming late in the year when the playoffs were right around the corner (the NFL played only 14 games then, with the final regular season game coming in mid December).
    But Tex Schramm, ever watchful for anything that would promote the popularity of the Cowboys, immediately saw the potential of Dallas hosting a Thanksgiving Day game, and how it might become a tradition like the Detroit Lions had established.
    So Dallas agreed to host the game when no other NFL team would do it. It immediately became a fan favorite on TV.
    Ironically, a decade later other teams complained to the NFL that Dallas’ hosting the game, and the resultant 10-day break after the game, gave the Cowboys an advantage that other teams didn’t enjoy.
    So the NFL moved the ’75 and ’76 games to St. Louis. But fans responded with a lack of viewership, so CBS (the NFL’s TV network back in the 60s) and the NFL asked Dallas to once again agree to host the game.
    After the NFL merged with the AFL, NBC (the TV network for the AFL / AFC) also wanted to host a Thanksgiving Day game, and split the double header with CBS.
    So the NFL agreed that, although Dallas and Detroit would still host a game, one of the teams would host an AFC team, and one would host an NFC team. NBC would broadcast the game in which either Dallas or Detroit hosted the AFC team. So Dallas hosts an AFC team every other year.
    By the way, Tex Schramm agreed that Dallas would once again host a Thanksgiving Day game on the condition that the NFL NEVER again move it. So despite the occasional complaint by other teams, Dallas has hosted a Thanksgiving Day game ever since.
    Every other franchise had this opprotunity. Dont hate now because your team didnt step up when they had the opp. Besides, now with the NFLN hosting a 3rd game, everyone has the opp to play on Thanksgiving.

  56. SetTheRecord says:
    March 23rd, 2009 at 11:38 pm
    Here’s a great idea: Have the competition committee meet once every five years. The game is fine, as a matter of fact it was better before we decided the quarterbacks and receivers were off limits. If you have a rules committee, they’re going to come up with new rules; that’s what they’re there to do. Even if the game is perfect, they are going to come up with new rules, otherwise they won’t exist. Let’s have them wait every five years to meet, that way they have some perspective on what is, and what isn’t working, instead of reacting to every issue that comes up during the course of one year. After 90 years of fine tuning, can there really be anything that NEEDS to be addressed this year?
    Amen. Tradition. That’s what the game is about. Every damn year there’s rule changes and emphasis for the officials to call things certain ways. Leave it alone. The game is fine. Actually, scratch that last bit. Get rid of instant replay. Then leave the game alone.

  57. Just a quick point…
    The Detroit Lions, NOT THE NFL, created the Thanksgiving Day tradition, and as such it is foolish for the league to assert ownership and take it away.
    There is no reason the League can’t put other games on that Thursday, but if you take the Lions off Thanksgiving day, then by league rules you have to give them some other nationally televised game, and Monday Night Football featuring the Lions and Packers would generate just as much bitching.

  58. This is a bad idea for the NFL, an unfair proposal for the Lions and most troubling to me, an extremely ‘family unfriendly’ proposal. Remember, the Lions HAVE to be on national TV at least once each year. What better time from a ratings impact stand-point to have them on than the lowest rated time slot in the least competitive game date on the schedule? Put the Lions on a random Monday or Sunday night and the ESPN/NBC is going to have HORRID ratings. Put them on at noon at Thanksgiving, and the NFL will minimize ratings erosion, while still not putting the prime 4 pm time slot ratings in jeopardy.
    More importantly, give this game to another team, and its an unusual event for that teams fans, but MERELY an unusual event. Take that game from the Lions, and you are taking away what for many is a sacred family tradition, dating back over decades. Personally, that game is the one time each year when my father, my brothers, our sons all get together at one place and spend time together. To lose that tradition, which is now reaching its fourth decade, ‘just because’ should not be taken lightly.
    Finally, to kick a long suffering fan base right in the “turkey baster” by removing this game just because, seems like very bad business for the NFL.
    Please lets just kill this talk altogether.

  59. For me…this charade of “tradition” either needs to end, or be changed, permantently. As a Packer fan, I’m sick and tired of watching the Packers have to play at Detroit on a short week. In fact, one year GB had the Sunday night game at Jacksonville, got home around 5am Monday, practiced Tuesday, and had to travel again on Wednesday.
    If they’re going to keep giving the Loins (sic) and the Cowbiatches (double sic) these home games on Turkey Day, it should be set up so that they always play on the road the week before, and the team they’re playing either has an early Sunday game at home, or a bye.
    Its stoooopid.

  60. Viper21 you took the words right out of my mouth. All of the crybabys can complain all they want about who hosts the Thanksgiving games but one thing is for sure the cowboys will always be hosting the game. Thats not just comeing from wishfull thinking of a fan, like Viper21 said Tex Shramm had an agreement with the NFL to make sure that the cowboys keep the game and that is what it says on the legal papers. People can B*tch and moan all they want about the cowboys and lions but thats just the way its always gonna be. If they want to b*tch at someone they should do it to their own teams because they didn’t have enough sence to agree to have the game when they could.

  61. They should take the bottom four from the previous season and make those teams play on Thanksgiving. Bad teams get rewarded in the draft, so they should get punished during the season to balance things out. Detroit will still play that date almost every year, so they can maintain tradition, and Dallas doesn’t really matter, since they get tons of press no matter what they do on the field.

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