The Detroit Lions: America’s (Thanksgiving Day) Team

detroit-lions-vs-bears-thanksgiving-1934

Detroit Lions First Thanksgiving Game, photographer unknown

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I am very thankful to have so many people who are passionate about Michigan giving me the drive to continue exploring the Great Lakes State through Michigan in Pictures.

I am also thankful that the Detroit Lions are in first place in the NFC North as they head into today’s 12:30 PM game at Ford Field vs the Minnesota Vikings. The Detroit Lions tell the story of the Origin of the Lions’ Thanksgiving Day Game:

The game was the brainchild of G.A. Richards, the first owner of the Detroit Lions. Richards had purchased the team in 1934 and moved the club from Portsmouth, Ohio to the Motor City. The Lions were the new kids in town and had taken a backseat to the baseball Tigers. Despite the fact the Lions had lost only one game prior to Thanksgiving in 1934, the season’s largest crowd had been just 15,000.

The opponent that day in 1934 was the undefeated, defending World Champion Chicago Bears of George Halas. The game would determine the champion of the Western Division. Richards had convinced the NBC Radio Network to carry the game coast-to-coast (94 stations) and, additionally, an estimated 26,000 fans jammed into the University of Detroit Stadium while thousands more disappointed fans were turned away.

Despite two Ace Gutowsky touchdowns, the Bears won the inaugural game, 19-16, but a classic was born.

Read on for more and definitely check out this MMQB article on Turkey Day in Detroit featuring Detroit sportswriter Mike O’Hara and some more great old photos.

Go Lions!!

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