By George Ferguson
Thanksgiving is considered by most to be one of America's favorite holidays. It's hard to argue, considering the holiday is one of the oldest in American history and it is very unique to our way of life.
Originally, Thanksgiving was intended to be a day to commemorate the historic day when Pilgrims and American Indians to come together to have a meal and give thanks to the fruit of the land. But enough with the history lesson.
In modern history, this holiday has become more about tradition and ritual than anything. Traditions like families gathering together for a massive feast of turkey and all the trimmings have become the norm in our society. Thanksgiving also marks the beginning of the commercial onslaught and insanity of the Christmas shopping season. And yes, in today's America, Thanksgiving also means football. In some households, football supersedes and dominates all on turkey day.
While I am a traditionalist at heart and have grown accustomed to looking forward to giving thanks with my family. And I'm not afraid to consume a drumstick and some mashed potatoes, who am I to argue with tradition. But there is one Thanksgiving tradition I wouldn't mind seeing go by the wayside.
As far as football is concerned, there are two NFL teams that play every Thanksgiving day, every year, over and over again. The Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys have become synonymous with Thanksgiving day football and NFL fans have no choice in that tradition. Although the two teams have different opponents each season, the Cowboys and Lions are a Thanksgiving staple.
Despite searching to the end of the internet, I was unsuccessful in coming up with an answer to the question eating at me: Why do the Cowboys and Lions get to play every year on Thanksgiving?
I figured it would be necessary to understand the reasoning behind this ritual if I was to gripe about wanting it changed. But, even though I could not find a suitable answer to my question, I'm still going to complain anyway.
Some NFL fanatics may consider it un-American of me to suggest that the Cowboys, who are known affectionately as America's team, should not play every single Thanksgiving, but that is exactly what I am suggesting. Unlike my passion for the same meal of turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and apple pie that I crave each and every Thanksgiving, I would like a little variety in my football viewing.
Recently, with the exception of this season, the Cowboys have fallen on hard times and words can't possibly describe the hard times the Detroit Lions franchise have fallen on. Both teams have struggled the past few seasons and there is no reason why we should always be subjected to having to watch these two franchises on Thanksgiving every season.
While traditions are an important part of our way of life and they are equally an important part of professional sports, new traditions have to get started somewhere. I can't think of a better place to start than the most popular professional sport on one of the most popular days on our calender.
With all due respect to the millions of Cowboy fans and the dozens of Lions fans, it is time for the NFL to switch things up a little. I am not suggesting that Dallas and Detroit should never be a part of the Thanksgiving tradition, but why not add some variety to this day?
Take the 2003 season for example. There are three great NFL matchups this weekend and Detroit and Green Bay is not one of them. Thursday would be a very exciting day for pro football fans if we got to see two high-powered offenses like the Vikings and Rams go at it. Or how about division leaders New England and Indianapolis? We could even watch the Panthers and Eagles, who are vying for home field advantage in the NFC playoff race.
Instead of seeing any of these intriguing week 13 matchups on Thursday, we have to wait until Sunday for them. On Thursday, I have to settle for a decent game between Dallas and the Dolphins, while seeing the Packers clobbering a hapless Detroit team. The only bright side to those matchups is that the tryptophan in turkey will surely set in by late afternoon and I will fall asleep long before the football games put me to sleep.
There is only one bright spot when talking about football on turkey day. When the dust settles in Dallas and Detroit, two teams will take to the field in Mississippi with a lot more at stake than TV ratings, end zone dances and who has the most bling-bling.
The college football matchup between Ole Miss and Mississippi State - also known as the Egg Bowl - will kickoff Thursday night and wake me from my football slumber. A college football in-state rivalry - now that is a Thanksgiving tradition I can celebrate along with my grandmother's potatoes.
Thanksgiving is all about tradition and giving thanks. We will all celebrate in our own way on Thursday. But one tradition that needs a change is the NFL football. People have tagged Thanksgiving as a day of thanks like the name says. So lets break from tradition and get some new teams to watch on one of the biggest football days of the year.
Then maybe I will have something more to be thankful for than just a superb meal and a stellar nap on the couch.