By the time football had become a professional event, playing on Thanksgiving had already become an institution.
Records of pro football being played on Thanksgiving date back to as early as the 1890s, with the first pro–am team, the Allegheny Athletic Association of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
This is only partly true; Dallas had in fact decided to host games on Thanksgiving by their own decision because there was nothing else to do or watch on that day.
In 19, at the behest of then-Commissioner Pete Rozelle, the St.
(At the time, then-president Franklin Roosevelt wanted to move the holiday for economic reasons and many states were resistant to the move; half the states recognized the move and the other half did not.
This complicated scheduling for Thanksgiving games. Incidentally, the two teams were also exploring the possibility of a merger at the time.) Because of the looming World War II and the resulting shorter seasons, the NFL did not schedule any Thanksgiving games in 1941, nor did it schedule any in the subsequent years until the war ended in 1945.
The All-America Football Conference and American Football League, both of which would later be absorbed into the NFL, also held Thanksgiving contests, although neither of those leagues had permanent hosts.
For the Canadian Football League games, see Thanksgiving Day Classic.
The game ended in a scoreless tie, leading to a rematch the next Sunday for the league championship.
Several other NFL teams played regularly on Thanksgiving in the first eighteen years of the league, including the Chicago Bears and Chicago Cardinals (1922–33; the Bears played the Lions from 1934 to 1938 while the Cardinals switched to the Green Bay Packers for 19), Frankford Yellow Jackets, Pottsville Maroons, Buffalo All-Americans, Canton Bulldogs (even after the team moved to Cleveland they played the 1924 Thanksgiving game in Canton), and the New York Giants (1929–38, who always played a crosstown rival). Richards, started the tradition of the Thanksgiving Day game as a gimmick to get people to go to Lions football games, and to continue a tradition begun by the city's previous NFL teams.
In that year, the college football teams at Yale and Princeton began an annual tradition of playing each other on Thanksgiving Day.
In some areas, high-school teams play on Thanksgiving, usually to wrap-up the regular-season.