The atmosphere is very similar. The game is nationally televised with tons of extra media hype. There’s always a great half time show planned with a big star. We get to see America’s Thanksgiving Parade down Woodward Avenue before the game, which ushers in the holidays. Family and friends huddle together around the TV to watch the big game as we all prepare for one of the best meals and gatherings of the year. It truly is a time of Thanksgiving, Celebration and Tradition.
I also call it the Detroit Super Bowl, jokingly, because my Lions have never been to the Super Bowl. This is the closest atmosphere I’ve gotten to my team playing in the Big Dance, ever. The NFL’s annual Thanksgiving Day Classic has always been the highlight of my Lions’ season. Us Michiganders get to enjoy the national spotlight being on our team and on our city. It’s our annual Big Game, hosted right here in the “D”. How our team is doing in the season matters little and we the fans always put a little extra juice into rooting for our boys.
For us, the tradition started in 1934 during the Lions’ first season in Detroit. We were gobbled up by Da’ Bears; 19-16. Today marks our 73rd contest on Thanksgiving, the most appearances by any NFL team. Our overall record is a (not bad) 33-37-2. This tradition has been a huge part of my life and I have many great Thanksgiving Day memories. In 2001, I attended the last Thanksgiving Day game in held in the Pontiac Silverdome. I went with many of my Chili’s-Ann Arbor coworkers at the time and we tailgated and saw a tough loss as Brett Favre and the Packers beat us 29-27. I remember making the trip over to Grand Rapids one year and watching the game with my wife’s mom’s side of the family. The aunts and her nanna watched intently as the uncles and boy cousins rough housed and tackled each other to the floor. In games that I have seen up in Northern Michigan, we would gasp as Barry Sanders was given the ball, hoping for another miraculous Thanksgiving Day touchdown run.
We all have our great memories on this day. Combining football with family and friends in a festive atmosphere usually helps us bond and forge lasting memories. I am especially thankful that this is a Detroit tradition that all Michiganders loyal to the Lions celebrate. GO LIONS!