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Lions, Cowboys likely to continue hammerlock on Thanksgiving games

After last year’s 0-16 season from the Detroit Lions, which included a 47-10 blowout loss to the Titans on Thanksgiving, complaints emerged regarding the team’s ongoing entitlement to an exclusive national audience on the fourth Thursday in November.  (Yeah, we use that a lot as a different way of saying “Thanksgiving,” in order to avoid using the word “Thanksgiving” twice in close proximity.  On Thanksgiving.  Thanksgiving.)

At his annual press conference on the Friday before the Super Bowl, Commissioner Roger Goodell said that any discussion regarding a change to the afternoon games on Thanksgiving would occur later in the year.

Later in the year, however, Goodell said he doesn’t think the Lions are in danger of losing that one day per year when, no matter how bad they are, we all get an eyeful of Honolulu Blue.

More recently, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told us that the issue currently is dormant.  “I have heard no discussion of changing Thanksgiving format,” Aiello told us via e-mail.  “Any potential discussion of a format change would be one for the offseason.”  

And, of course, we’ve all typically moved on to other issues by the time the offseason comes.

The argument most often advanced for the status quo comes from the reality that the Lions and the Cowboys were willing to host Thanksgiving games every year at a time when no one else was interested in accepting what was deemed to be a burden, not a benefit.

The other reality?  The league has a captive audience on Thanksgiving afternoon. 

When fictional NBC president Russell Dalrymple asked George Costanza why anyone would watch a show about nothing, Costanza’s response was immediate:  “Because it’s on TV.”

And that theory applies with extra force when it comes to football games on Thanksgiving.  It’s part of our routine.  Families congregate, the televisions activate, and football games accelerate.  (Yeah, it doesn’t fit.  But I really wanted to end that sentence with another word ending in “-ate.”) 

Why waste the good football games for the day when we’ll watch whatever football game is “on TV”? 

Case in point:  Because CBS and FOX each televise one of the afternoon games and because both Thanksgiving home teams are from the NFC, the CBS game requires a road team from the AFC.

This year, the Lions game airs on FOX, and the Cowboys game goes to CBS. 

The Cowboys host two teams from the AFC West:  the Chargers and the Raiders.

San Diego at Dallas would have been a great Thanksgiving game.  But the captive audience is instead getting Oakland at Dallas, which is widely expected to be a blowout — Sunday’s win by the Raiders over the Bengals notwithstanding.

Though Chargers-Cowboys on December 13 has been, per a source with knowledge of the protected list, blocked by CBS from flexing into prime time, the game begins at 4:15 p.m. ET, and CBS will use it to carry a huge audience into 60 Minutes.

So get used to seeing the Lions and the Cowboys on Thanksgiving, no matter how good — or bad — either team is.

Then again, we all should be used to it by now.  That’s the way it’s been for decades, and it likely will be for decades more.

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23 Responses to “Lions, Cowboys likely to continue hammerlock on Thanksgiving games”
  1. jfg says: Nov 26, 2009 10:47 AM

    “And that theory applies with extra force when it comes to football games on Thanksgiving. It’s part of our routine. Families congregate, the televisions activate, and football games accelerate. (Yeah, it doesn’t fit. But I really wanted to end that sentence with another word ending in “-ate.”)”
    dominate or permeate would have been better choices

  2. TFBuckFutter says: Nov 26, 2009 10:50 AM

    I’m still really irritated that the only decent game is on the NFL Network.
    And they knew that would be the case when they made the schedule. Detroit and Oakland were clearly going to be shitty teams this year. Denver maybe-maybe not. At least New York/Denver appeared to be competetive when they made the schedule.
    The NFL doesn’t give two shits about the fans.

  3. Snitchin' Bubs says: Nov 26, 2009 10:52 AM

    Also maybe stranglehold instead of hammerlock.

  4. simple_simon1 says: Nov 26, 2009 10:53 AM

    Good. Keep it the way it is. For God sake, the Lions have been bad for a while but they stepped up to the plate when nobody wanted to. They also invented this tradition to begin with in 1934, otherwise, there wouldn’t even be football on Thanksgiving.
    Detroit only gets one televised game. Even if they get good, they will still get less than the Cowboys, etc. If I have to sit through teams that run the ball 40 times a game for a whopping 3 yards a play, killing 8 mnutes per drive, then suck up sitting through one game of the Lions. Even if they suck it can be fun to watch sometimes.
    Keep the game in Detroit,period. In a couple years, when Detroit starts to get better, you’ll be happy you did. Just wish Stafford and CJ were playing today.

  5. Runnin' outta fingers says: Nov 26, 2009 10:57 AM

    Because Dallas and Detroit were supposedly the only ones back in the day who wanted a traditional Thanksgiving game, I have no problem with them keeping the games. That being said I would rather they scrap it and rotate the games throughout the NFL franchises. I’m glad they added a 3rd game over on the NFLN, and Ill even be able to watch it this year (Fn Comcast) haha

  6. slipkid says: Nov 26, 2009 11:03 AM

    perhaps a better word, given the 2 likely blowouts at first… would have been “tryptophanate”.
    and why detroit, you ask? because YOU HAVENT SUFFERED ENOUGH!

  7. Bigbluefan says: Nov 26, 2009 11:04 AM

    Thank god for the NFL Network at least when the rug rats are gone and the food is put away we have a real game

  8. BEAR-A-HOLIC says: Nov 26, 2009 11:09 AM

    That is what you call discrimination against all other teams !

  9. TFBuckFutter says: Nov 26, 2009 11:21 AM

    Actually, it might now be that bad.
    Imagine the fireworks if Oakland treats Dallas the way they did Philly?
    Although that would just lead to more justification for putting crappy games on.
    But hey, who wants long lasting memories? Remember rookie Randy Moss detroying the Cowboys back in 1998? I do.
    Can’t say I’ll be forming any indelible memories of Bruce Gradkowski or Duanta Culpepper.

  10. Diomedes says: Nov 26, 2009 11:24 AM

    I don’t care how bad they are for how long, I like to see Detroit on Thanksgiving. I hope the NFL ignores fans who complain about it.

  11. leatherneck says: Nov 26, 2009 11:24 AM

    The Lions will be decent next year or soon thereafter.

  12. scrapdawg12 says: Nov 26, 2009 11:25 AM

    Nobody wants to see Detroit on Thanksgiving unless they start winning some games. Nobody wants to see the Cowgirls either. This years games stink and what I have seen from the Thursday night games, they stink too. The schedule for Thanksgiving and Christmas should not be made before the season. Only winning teams should be able to play on these dates. Games like this:
    New England vs. Indy Colts
    Eagles vs. Cowboys
    Chargers vs. Colts or Indy
    and so on. Games like that. People want to see good games featuring good games. Not this junk they are putting on tv.

  13. Fan_Of_ Four says: Nov 26, 2009 11:31 AM

    Not sure if I’m just in a better mood but Florio seems to be getting funnier.

  14. SmackMyVickUp says: Nov 26, 2009 11:36 AM

    Old traditions die hard, just wouldn’t be the same seeing Cowboys play close games against lousy opponents. Everyone loves seeing the Lions getting blown out on a national stage too.
    ——————————–
    # TFBuckFutter says: November 26, 2009 10:50 AM
    I’m still really irritated that the only decent game is on the NFL Network.
    The NFL doesn’t give two shits about the fans.
    ——————————
    Live in an area where we get to see it on a big screen for free. I’d probably be upset if it wasn’t readily available. NFL network is a joke for what it costs.
    Enter Sprint plug where it televises all NFL games with a special package. You should really insert that promo whenever you talk about games televised on the NFL network.

  15. eaglealan64 says: Nov 26, 2009 11:46 AM

    Tradition counts for something – Thanksgiving wouldn’t be the same if it wasn’t Detroit and Dallas.

  16. TFBuckFutter says: Nov 26, 2009 11:50 AM

    “SmackMyVickUp says:
    November 26, 2009 11:36 AM
    Old traditions die hard, just wouldn’t be the same seeing Cowboys play close games against lousy opponents. Everyone loves seeing the Lions getting blown out on a national stage too.”
    Not complaining about the tradition, for the record. Not even complaining about Detroit. Moreso about Oakland being featured. They scheduled two crappy games that they knew well in advance were going to feature at least 2 of the worst teams in the league, and possibly 2 average teams as well.

  17. SmackMyVickUp says: Nov 26, 2009 11:54 AM

    Where is your obligatory Thanksgiving Day article?
    You know the cheesy posts where you drag on about how you are thankful for your family, all of your great fans(your welcome), Sprint and NBC and more useless drivel.
    Heading out so I’ll add mine here.
    ——————
    I’m thankful for the US Armed Forces.
    Grouchy Media
    has some of the best tribute video mixes I have ever seen.
    My favs:
    Die Terrorists turn volume up all the way for this one.
    Taliban Bodies
    Bomb Saddam

  18. slipkid says: Nov 26, 2009 12:07 PM

    oakland wont put in a star performance on the road.
    detroit is going to get stafford killed.

  19. cbrianwatkins says: Nov 26, 2009 12:11 PM

    I dont mind the Lions playing on Thanksgiving, to be honest, i think its really a small amount of people who give a shit, and Florio because he likes to stir the pot like a gossip queen
    Reason being is because Fantasy Football has opened up a whole new interest in shitty teams. For example, I have a bunch at stake in the Lions game with K Smith on one of my teams, and Megatron one my team in another league
    At any rate, there are a ton of people who have an invested interest in the Lions, not to mention in 2-3yrs they may not be half bad, if not plenty good
    (ps…… Florio, nice Constanza reference)

  20. Quagmire says: Nov 26, 2009 1:52 PM

    Big advantage not having to travel on a short week every year…If Dallas & Detroit want to keep it they should only be home every other year.

  21. VoxVeritas says: Nov 26, 2009 2:35 PM

    “Big advantage not having to travel on a short week every year”
    Big disadvantage to play on a short week every year, too. Maybe the league should let the Cowboys and Lions have their bye weeks before the Thanksgiving games.

  22. chunky soupy sales says: Nov 26, 2009 4:31 PM

    “Big advantage not having to travel on a short week every year…If Dallas & Detroit want to keep it they should only be home every other year.”
    Care to explain the advantage of playing 3 games in 15 days, giggity?
    Too bad for you your ” should” don’t count for crap.

  23. robertc says: Nov 26, 2009 7:01 PM

    Have they thought of an expanded Thanksgiving schedule. Keep the Lions and the Cowboys make them take turns playing the game on the road every other year. And move half of the following Sundays schedule to Thanksgiving, because AFC teams should be able to host these games too.

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