Watching an NFL game is probably one of your favorite Thanksgiving activities if you’re a football fan.
Sitting down in front of the TV with your football-loving family members, enjoying pumpkin pie during halftime, and cheering on your favorite team into the evening are all activities many people associate with Thanksgiving. But have you ever stopped to think how the NFL and Thanksgiving became so intertwined?
Read on to learn the history of the NFL on Thanksgiving. Then, if you’re searching online for “restaurants near me” to supply food and drinks during football season, check out our Eddie’s on Lake Norman Football Menu.
American Football and Thanksgiving: The Beginnings
As you may know, American football is a sport that originated in the U.S. While some other countries have professional American football leagues, this sport has an overwhelming majority presence within the U.S. Football is the most popular sport in the U.S. in terms of the broadcast audience.
American football evolved from soccer and rugby. The first official football match took place on November 6, 1869, between teams from the universities of Rutgers and Princeton.
Football was primarily a collegiate sport during its first few decades. As a result, you may not be surprised to learn that the first Thanksgiving match — which occurred in 1876 — took place between two collegiate teams. This first football game played on Thanksgiving was the championship game for the Intercollegiate Football Association.
In the following years, football fans expected college championship games to occur on Thanksgiving Day. The “New York Herald” even called Thanksgiving the official holiday to watch football in 1893.
NFL and Thanksgiving
While football originated in 1869, the National Football League (NFL) did not form until 1920. This league, originally known as the American Professional Football Association, aimed to solve the challenges surrounding professional football play.
As football became more popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, some players began accepting payments to participate in matches. However, many people still viewed football as an amateur sport, and paid play was frowned upon.
The new American Professional Football Association prevented college players from joining and put an end to paying players to leave one team for another. By 1922, this league was America’s top professional football league.
The first NFL game played on Thanksgiving took place in the NFL’s origin year of 1920. This match between the Akron Pros and the Canton Bulldogs left the Pros with a 7-0 win.
Historic Thanksgiving NFL Games
Since 1920, several NFL teams have played historic games on Thanksgiving Day. However, football fans know the two leading teams for Thanksgiving traditions are the Detroit Lions and the Dallas Cowboys.
The Detroit Lions have played on Thanksgiving every year since 1934, excluding only the years during World War II. One of the Lions’ most notable Thanksgiving games took place in 1962.
This match against the Green Bay Packers proved a challenge for the Lions, as they were competing against a 10-0 record. However, the Lions came out on top, leading to the only loss for the Packers that year.
Initially, the Thanksgiving NFL tradition had trouble gaining traction outside of Detroit. However, in the mid-1960s, the NFL added a second Thanksgiving game to the schedule. This game, hosted by the Dallas Cowboys in 1966, sparked the tradition for the Cowboys to host annual Thanksgiving games.
The Cowboys played a notable game against the Miami Dolphins on Thanksgiving in 1993. Snow is a rarity in Dallas, but it fell heavily during that year’s Thanksgiving match. The Cowboys had a 14-13 lead in the final minutes of the fourth quarter when they fumbled the ball to the Dolphins. The Dolphins kicked it in, winning the game 16-14.
Today, the Detroit Lions have played 81 Thanksgiving games with a 37-42-2 record. The Cowboys have played 53 Thanksgiving games with a 31-21-1 record.
NFL Thanksgiving Traditions in 2022 and Beyond
Many families across the U.S. make it a tradition to watch an NFL game on Thanksgiving. Families often plan their Thanksgiving dinners around the football schedule, ensuring they finish the meal by the time their favorite teams kick-off.
Some football fans eat their Thanksgiving dinners on TV trays so they can watch the game at the same time. Others bring out appetizers and football-themed foods to munch on while watching the game. Either way, having good food is essential to enjoying a Thanksgiving NFL game.
At Eddie’s on Lake Norman, we offer a special Football Menu available ONLY while the game is on. So stop by Eddie’s to enjoy your favorite football appetizers and drinks during the next big NFL game. Please note that we are closed on Thanksgiving Day. Enjoy the holiday!
About Eddie’s on Lake Norman
Ann-Margaret Wagner brings her hospitality and restaurant expertise from New York to the shores of Lake Norman with Eddie’s On Lake Norman. Ann-Margaret is the former owner of a successful restaurant in Westchester County, New York, called The Muscoot Tavern, an iconic “Cheers-like” bar and grille. After visiting Lake Norman, she fell in love with the area, saw potential in the restaurant, and decided to make North Carolina her new home with her daughter Lacy.
After purchasing the business, which was previously Vinnie’s Sardine Grille and Raw Bar, she completely renovated the entire space, sold the other restaurant, and moved south. The kitchen is filled with all new appliances, while the bar, dining room, and back patio were all touched up to create a clean, comfortable and relaxed atmosphere. Whether in North Carolina, New York, or anywhere else, Ann-Margaret’s mission is always to provide the freshest seafood, prime meats, produce, pasta, and bread, every meal.
“I hope you enjoy eating our delicious cooking as much as we love making it for you!”
If you would like to book an event at Eddie’s on Lake Norman, we require a $250 refundable deposit that can be applied to your bill and or credit card used for a deposit. We charge a $50 Event Fee and 25% gratuity, plus tax. For more information, call us at 704-799-2090.
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Eddie’s on Lake Norman
643 Williamson Rd
Mooresville, NC 28117