Why do the Lions and Cowboys always play on Thanksgiving?

Welcome back to the Yahoo Sports NFL Mailbag, where we’re taking your questions via Twitter, Facebook, email, and screaming into the void. Got a question? Hit us up by email at or see below. Today, we’re talking Thanksgiving games, NFL turducken, the Cowboys and more. Let’s roll!

What is the history behind the Lions and Cowboys playing on Thanksgiving every year? Has the league considered doing something different, like a Super Bowl rematch?
-@CampONeill, via Twitter

The league usually has Super Bowl rematches early in the season, which I grant you is not the best use of that kind of marquee play. We’re already excited enough for the NFL to return; why not burn that inevitable Titans-Browns game early, when we’ll lap up anything?

But to answer your primary question, the Lions have played on Thanksgiving since 1934, and the Cowboys since 1966, and both for the same reason – because the teams’ owners understood that Thanksgiving was a day when a captive audience awaited, a millions-strong contingent of ready-made football fans willing to watch anything to avoid talking with their relatives. Since 1978, Dallas and Detroit have each hosted a game.

We’ve fallen into a lovely rhythm since then; the Lions get the early game, and most of America gets its one chance to see Detroit bumble its way through yet another season. Then the Cowboys follow, and America gets to hear announcers try to proclaim that really, no kidding, we promise, this is the year that the lurching, wheezing Cowboys franchise stumbles its way out of mediocrity.

But this is the NFL, and anything worth doing is worth overdoing. So in 2006, the NFL added a third primetime game, meaning you’ve got nine-plus hours now for the TV to be on and drown out your annoying, crotchety uncle (or, if you are that uncle, your smartass nephew/niece home from college), at least until your mom tells you to turn off the TV and come to the table.

The third game opened the door to a range of new teams, and we’ve had some strong games since then. Mark Sanchez’s buttfumble game was a Thanksgiving special, and so was Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin tripping the Ravens’ Jacoby Jones. This year, we’ve got Falcons-Saints, and while the game doesn’t look great from a pure talent matchup perspective, this is one of the more underrated rivalries in the NFL, and well worth your viewing time.

Also, it’s called stuffing, not dressing; cranberry sauce is not only good, but tastes just fine coming out of a can; and if you don’t like turkey, you’ve been served lame turkey your whole life. These food opinions are law and no others will be considered.

If a TurDuckEn contains 3 of the best fowl meats, who are your choices to constitute a QuaRunVer; the best current NFL quarterback, running back and wide receiver?
-Terry, via Facebook

I am going with the MaGurLio: Patrick Mahomes, Todd Gurley and Julio Jones, all melded together in a delicious mishmash of skill, flash and fantasy points. And that is a horrifying image to picture in your head.

And you?

Commercial break!

Fischer’s Training Table Bread! Y.A. Tittle endorses it, so you know it’s gotta be good! I will never get over the fact that people used to play football with the goal posts right there at the goal line. Seriously, how many people ran straight into those things? Odell Beckham Jr. would totally use those as a pick to take out the safety, and he’d be right to do so.

Can you say how the Cowboys are a lock for the division title? There’s a six pack in it for you.
-Dean Grant / @gdeangrant, via Twitter

Sweet! I’ll happily sell out my journalistic principles for beer! And this time, I even believe what I’m shilling!

I don’t think anyone in the NFC East is a “lock”– well, except for the Giants, they’re a lock to suck– but yeah, Dallas definitely has the inside track to the division title. Philadelphia looks completely adrift, and Washington is … well, Washington; even before Alex Smith’s leg got snapped, I wouldn’t place any faith in the Redskins, ever.

So, yes, Dallas is headed for a first-weekend matchup against someone like Minnesota or Carolina, and might even be able to sneak into the divisional round if the Cowboys catch the five-seed napping. And that’s where it’ll end, because the Rams or Saints will devour the Cowboys like a sports-bar chicken wing.

I’ll take my beer now.

I wonder how many decades it will be before the media stops bringing up Colin Kaepernick every time a team is looking for a quarterback.
-Bryan, via comments

I mean, probably until teams stop hiring worse quarterbacks than Colin Kaepernick.

Come on. We’re a year past the kneeling story. Kneeling’s all but stopped, ratings are back up, players are focusing their charitable efforts in less provocative ways, everybody’s getting on with their lives. Kaepernick isn’t playing in the NFL ever again, and nobody’s going to think you’re any less of a REAL AMERICAN if you admit what you know is the truth – Kaepernick is a talented quarterback whose political beliefs kept him from getting a job.

You don’t have to agree with what he said or did (yeah, I know, pig socks! PIG SOCKS!) to concede that he would have been a better QB than some of the out-of-the-league-for-years stiffs signed to hold clipboards in the NFL. No, NFL teams aren’t obligated to sign Kaepernick, who would surely bring more headaches from howling fans than a backup QB is worth, but let’s all stop pretending that “football reasons” were behind any decision not to sign him.

And as my Thanksgiving gift to you, that will be the last time we mention Kaepernick in this space … at least until the Jets go and sign a three-legged donkey as a quarterback.

That’ll do it for this week. We want your questions! Hit us up via email at, on Twitter using the hashtag #AskYahooNFL, on Facebook here, or in the comments below. See you next week!

Happy Thanksgiving, friends. (Getty)
Happy Thanksgiving, friends. (Getty)

Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.

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