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STEVE ALIC, NFL
Americans Gather To Enjoy Family, Food and their Favorite Sport
For millions of Americans, Thanksgiving Day traditions and family gatherings are inextricably linked to NFL football. From touch football games with family and friends to watching NFL games with relatives after a traditional feast, these moments intertwine with the holiday season.
The traditional Thanksgiving Day games played in Detroit and Dallas will be celebrated as Thanksgiving Classics. In both games, the Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers will celebrate their histories by wearing a uniform worn during an era of each franchise’s past glory.
At 12:30 p.m. ET on Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 22), the Lions host the Packers. Detroit players will sport Lions uniforms worn from 1934-61 with white pants and silver numerals, plain silver helmets with gray facemasks, blue jerseys and black belts. Green Bay players will wear the club’s 1939 uniforms with canvas-colored pants and belts, plain gold helmets with gray facemasks, solid white socks, white jerseys with green lettering. Both teams will wear black shoes, a common thread from football of yesteryear.
The Dallas Cowboys host the Denver Broncos at 4:05 p.m. ET. Dallas players will wear an adaptation of the traditional double-star jerseys the Cowboys wore from 1960-66 and 1994. The jersey features a blue torso with white numerals and sleeves highlighted by a bold white star atop each shoulder. Denver will be dressed in its 1986 “Orange Crush” jerseys and royal blue helmets with a rising Bronco bucking through an orange “D.” The Broncos wore versions of this uniform from 1968-96, appearing in four Super Bowls during that span.
The NFL created a festive NFL Thanksgiving Classics logo for on-field, editorial and television production use. In addition, the Pontiac Silverdome and Texas Stadium will be decorated with special Thanksgiving Classics banners and bunting along sidelines and behind endzones. Custom-produced Thanksgiving Classics goal post pads will adorn the playing fields as well.
In addition, NFL.com will be home to football and Thanksgiving excitement. Fans can relive their classic Thanksgiving memories in the following NFL.com features:
As part of the NFL’s support of eBay’s “Auction for America” campaign, the NFL.com Auction (www.nfl.com/auctions) section will offer fans an opportunity to bid on every Lions Thanksgiving Classic jersey worn in the Detroit-Green Bay Thanksgiving Day game. All money collected from every bid on NFL.com’s “Auction for America” page will benefit the September 11th Fund, the Twin Towers Fund and the New York State World Trade Center Relief Fund.
The players’ uniforms will accompany a new line of NFL apparel called NFL Gridiron Classics by Reebok. Worn by coaches and team personnel on sidelines, NFL Gridiron Classics weave rich NFL team heritage within contemporary styles and lifestyle fashions.
Thanksgiving Classics jerseys and Gridiron Classics apparel are available at the NFL Shop (1-800-NFL-Shop or nflshop.com) as well as Broncos, Cowboys, Lions and Packers team shops and online stores.
NFL Shop on NFL.com will offer NFL Gridiron Classics apparel for all 32 NFL clubs, including leather/wool varsity jackets, crew neck sweatshirts, headwear and more.
The Detroit Lions have played more Thanksgiving Day games than any other NFL team (61) dating back to 1934. The Chicago Bears won that first Thanksgiving Day classic,
19-16, with a national radio audience listening to 94 stations carrying the game coast to coast. Both of this season’s Thanksgiving Day games will be watched by more than 20 million Americans and heard on the Westwood One Radio Network by nearly 15 million fans on more than 450 affiliates. The broadcast can be heard overseas and on ships at sea by more than 1 million men and women via the American Forces Radio Network.
NFL games have been played annually on Thanksgiving since the 1934 Lions-Bears matchup, except from 1939-44, when the series was interrupted due to World War II.
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THANKSGIVING CLASSICS 2001 UNIFORMS
The Lions captured their first NFL championship in 1935 against the New York Giants wearing the same uniforms the club will wear on Thanksgiving Day. That 1935 Lions team posted a home record of 5-0-1 at the University of Detroit Stadium under Head Coach Potsy Clark. From 1934-61, numerous players earned Detroit 16 winning seasons and fortified the Lions’ pride. Stars, such as Pro Football Hall of Famer “Dutch” Clark, Ernie Caddel, George Christensen, “Ace” Gutowski, Glenn Presnell and “Ox” Emerson, established pro football in Detroit in these uniforms. The Lions stood atop of the pro football world as champions with back-to-back titles in 1952 and 1953 and again in 1957. Former Lions’ greats like Hall of Famers Bobby Layne, Jack Christiansen, Yale Lary, Doak Walker, Joe Schmidt and Lou Creekmur wore the Honolulu Blue and Silver during the team’s success in the 1950s.
Coached by Earl “Curly” Lambeau, the 1939 Packers were the first team to record a shutout in an NFL championship game by defeating the New York Giants, 27-0, wearing this season’s Thanksgiving Classics uniforms. Led by Pro Football Hall of Famers Arnie Herber, Clarke Hinkle and Don Hutson, Green Bay won their final four games of the regular season – all on the road – to win the Western Division crown. Their shutout championship victory against New York was the Packers’ only title game played in Milwaukee’s State Fair Park. The Packers earned their fifth NFL title in 1939. Today, Green Bay owns more league championships (12) than any other NFL franchise. The Chicago Bears have the second-most NFL titles with nine.
Dallas Cowboys: 1994
A third consecutive NFC East crown and a team record-tying 11 Pro Bowl players are identified with a brilliant 1994 Cowboys team. Dallas entered the season as back-to-back Super Bowl champions and posted a superior 12-4 record before losing the NFC Championship Game in San Francisco, 38-28. Identified by a bold star atop each shoulder pad on their jerseys, the Cowboys blitzed to an 8-1 start and won the division title by three games over the New York Giants. Dallas was victorious against Green Bay, 42-31, on Thanksgiving Day 1994. Emmitt Smith rushed 32 times against the Packers for 133 yards and two touchdowns while Cowboys starter Jason Garrett (15-26-311-2-1) and the Packers' Brett Favre (27-40-257-4-0) went head-to-head in an aerial duel. Smith scored a then NFL-best 22 touchdown on the season and became the first non-kicker to lead Dallas in scoring (132 points) since Bob Hayes and Dan Reeves tied with 66 in 1967. Smith also became the first Cowboy to lead the team in scoring for five consecutive seasons.
In their orange jerseys and royal blue helmets, John Elway and his 1986 Broncos won one of the greatest NFL games ever played – a 23-20 overtime win against the Cleveland Browns – to advance to Super Bowl XXI. Recording their 17th consecutive sold-out season, the Broncos began the year 6-0 to tie the best start in team history. Six Broncos were named to the AFC’s Pro Bowl team: center Keith Bishop, Elway, defensive end Rulon Jones, linebacker Karl Mecklenburg, safety Dennis Smith and running back Sammy Winder. Although defeated by the New York Giants in the Super Bowl, 39-20, the Broncos had come of age and would be led to four more Super Bowls by Elway, winning their last two. Denver wore adaptations of this “Orange Crush” Thanksgiving Classics uniform from 1968-96.