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Open letter to football fans: Thanksgiving is Detroit’s and you can’t have it

So stop asking and stop complaining

Chicago Bears v Detroit Lions Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images

Dear football fans outside of Detroit,

Please shut up. I initially wanted the entire letter to just be me saying “please shut up,” but obviously I need to go into detail as to why you should all shut up. So here goes.

The Detroit Lions play on Thanksgiving every year, and more often than not, the game isn’t all that great for the fans outside of Detroit or the team their playing. Frankly, it’s not always fun for Lions fans either. Thursday’s game is type of thing that makes Lions fans want to dig a hole and hide in it.

Like clockwork, a sports writer, a talking head on TV, or a radio host will go on and on about how it’s time for the NFL to get rid of the Lions playing on Thanksgiving. It’s incredibly annoying, and I would like to once again refer back to the start of this letter where I said “please shut up.”

Here’s the thing. We don’t care if you don’t like it. The NFL doesn’t either. The Raiders vs. Cowboys game in the evening was super fun, wasn’t it? Well, guess what? Without the Lions, you don’t get that game, because the Detroit Lions created Thanksgiving football.

It was Lions owner George A. Richards who had the idea to have an NFL game played on Thanksgiving and it was also Richards who talked NBC in broadcasting the game across the country. The Lions created this entire tradition. That’s why you can’t have it.

Maybe you’re a football historian and you’re saying, “But Mike, there were games played on Thanksgiving before Richards set up the broadcast and game in 1934.” Then I would refer you to 1917 when the first recorded professional Thanksgiving game took place in Detroit when the Detroit Heralds played the Canton Bulldogs. “But Mike, that doesn’t count. The NFL didn’t have it’s inaugural season until 1920.” I’m sorry to tell you that the Detroit Heralds also played on Thanksgiving that year, too. Football, Detroit, and Thanksgiving go hand-in-hand-in-hand.

Also, the ratings aren’t falling. You may not like the Lions game, but that doesn't mean that other people don’t. Plus, you’re clearly watching it and so is the rest of the country. By all means, the Lions playing on Thanksgiving was—and continues to be—a wild success. The NFL is now intrinsically tied to Thanksgiving thanks to Detroit, and Lions games continue to be extremely popular. Changing to a “better” team results in nothing beneficial for the NFL, because they’ve already struck gold with this tradition. People are going to complain, but more importantly to the NFL, they’re still going to watch.

This is the last thing I’m going to put in here, and it’s from the heart. This is all we have. The Lions have been bad for my entire life, but I always know that I can get together with my family on the last Thursday of November and have a moment every year. I know I’m not alone in that. When you say that the NFL should move on from the Lions on Thanksgiving, you’re threatening my family tradition that has gone on from generation to generation. I’m sorry, that’s not yours to take.

If you don’t like the game, then don’t watch. That’s fine, but don’t try to take away our city’s tradition that we created and that we have passed down, and will continue to pass down for generations. It’s ours and you can’t have it. Also, please shut up.


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