Why do the Lions always play on Thanksgiving? Memes, record, and more

Joshua Rogers November 25, 2021
Why do the Lions always play on Thanksgiving? Memes, record, and more
Photo By Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

Thanksgiving is here, and fans are wondering why the Lions always play on Thanksgiving. Here’s when the Lions last won on Thanksgiving, their overall record, and those dreaded memes.

Both the Lions and Cowboys always play on Thanksgiving, but that’s understandable in regards to Dallas – they’re America’s team after all.

But why do the Lions always play on Thanksgiving? Well, the Lions began playing on Thanksgiving in 1934, and it’s been the same for the past 82 years.

Man in the Arena: Tom Brady | Official Trailer | ESPN

Man in the Arena: Tom Brady | Official Trailer | ESPN

Why do the Lions always play on Thanksgiving?

The tradition dates to 1934 when Lions team owner George A Richards wanted to build a fanbase and needed a new tradition. He proposed hosting the world champions Chicago Bears on Thanksgiving and, lo and behold, it was a massive success.

Radio broadcasts went through the roof and extended far beyond the state of Michigan. From that day, it has been a tradition the Lions have upheld, and the league has been more than happy to honour it.

DETROIT – OCTOBER 12: Detroit Lions playing field at Ford Field, home of the Detroit Lions football team in Detroit, Michigan on October 12, 2017. (Photo By Raymond Boyd/Getty Images)

What is their record?

The Bears won that first Thanksgiving game against the Lions 19-16. This year’s meeting between the teams represents the 19th time they have played on Thanksgiving.

Sadly, it hasn’t got much better for the Lions over the years. The Lions’ Thanksgiving record is 37-42-2. However, during the past few years it has been particularly depressing for their fans – their record in the past two decades on Thanksgiving is 5-15.

When was the last time the Lions won on Thanksgiving?

The Lions have lost 13 of their past 17 Thanksgiving Day games, which includes last year’s 41-25 loss to the Houston Texans.

In fact, they have lost four straight Thanksgiving games. The last time the Lions won on Thanksgiving was in 2016, when they beat the Minnesota Vikings 16-13.

Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Hopefully there won’t be any need for more Lions Thanksgiving memes

The Lions losing on Thanksgiving has been a bit of a running joke over the years. Having said that, they could buck the trend today against a Chicago Bears team that hasn’t exactly set the world alight this season (they’re 3-7).

Detroit fans will hope, for once, they don’t have to put up with the Lions Thanksgiving memes that usually circulate around this time every year.

Although they are pretty funny…

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Joshua is a senior sports writer with over four years' experience in online writing. He graduated with a BA in Ancient History from The University of Manchester before receiving an MA in Sports Journalism from The University of Central Lancashire. He became a trending writer for a leading social publisher and later spent time covering the 2018 World Cup for The Mirror Online. He then moved to a social marketing agency where he acted as website editor. His specialties on The Focus include F1, tennis, NBA, NFL and combat sports.