Cover Story

Some things just go together like peanut butter and jelly. For example, peas and carrots. Or how about Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie … oh wait, scratch that. At this time of the year, there is nothing  like pumpkin pie and cornbread dressing. the best part of this season, hands down, is the combination of the infamous turkey and pigskin tradition. 

The unlikely combination of eating Thanksgiving dinner and watching your favorite football rivals battle it out on the field has become a holiday treat in America. The image of my family gobbling up our Thanksgiving meal, and then plopping on the couch for some all day football action on TV, has become a cherished scene. Of course, every Dallas Cowboys fan knows that turkey and pigskin are always on the menu come Thanksgiving Day. It’s just what we do around here! But, did you know there is a reason as to why this plays out every year? Thanksgiving day is credited to have landed the team national fame!

Many may think the peculiar duo of turkey and pigskin is a modern tradition, but its roots run a lot deeper in American history. Would you be surprised if we added Abraham Lincoln to this dubious pair? “President Abraham Lincoln first declared Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863, and the earliest Thanksgiving Day football games began only a few years later,” the History Channel states. In the mid-19th century, football was still transitioning from rugby into the modern game we know today. On Thanksgiving Day, in 1876, Yale and Princeton initiated the first turkey day rivalry session, eventually leading to Thanksgiving becoming the traditional date for the Intercollegiate Football Association championship game.

The sport has evolved since its early rugby days, but the tradition of good food and football rivalries continues today. “When the National Football League was founded in 1920, it began hosting as many as six Thanksgiving contests each year,” the History Channel explains. On Thanksgiving Day, no other team is more watched by East Texans than our beloved Dallas Cowboys.

In 1966, Cowboys general manager Tex Schramm (famous for his creation of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders) saw the opportunity to host a Thanksgiving matchup with the Cleveland Browns. This was a sure ticket to garner national publicity to his team, who was struggling under the leadership of the new head coach Tom Landry. The NFL did not share Schramm’s enthusiasm, but was taken aback when “the fans showed up in droves, and the team broke its attendance record as 80,259 [football fans] crammed into the Cotton Bowl. The Cowboys beat the Cleveland Browns 26-14 that day, and a second Thanksgiving pigskin tradition caught hold,” according to Mentalfloss.com. Every year since, with the exception of two years, the Cowboys gear up Thanksgiving morning to host the big game in their hometown. How 'bout them Cowboys?

This Thanksgiving, as you stuff your bellies with cornbread dressing and Grandma’s apple pie, retreat to the couch (or Grandpa’s well-worn recliner) as another round of turkey and pigskin is sure to be the after-dinner delight. And when we say dinner, we mean gobbling down on food all day long, while watching multiple games throughout the day. We wish you and your family a very Happy Thanksgiving as you gather together, give thanks, eat pie and watch some good ole’ football!


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