NFL games are a beloved Thanksgiving tradition

Dallas+Cowboys+against+the+the+Los+Angeles+Chargers+during+a+Thanksgiving+Day+game+at+AT%26T+Stadium+on+November+23%2C+2017+in+Arlington%2C+Texas.+Photo+by+Tom+Pennington%2FGetty+Images
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NFL games are a beloved Thanksgiving tradition

Dallas Cowboys against the the Los Angeles Chargers during a Thanksgiving Day game at AT&T Stadium on November 23, 2017 in Arlington, Texas. Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Dallas Cowboys against the the Los Angeles Chargers during a Thanksgiving Day game at AT&T Stadium on November 23, 2017 in Arlington, Texas. Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Getty Images

Dallas Cowboys against the the Los Angeles Chargers during a Thanksgiving Day game at AT&T Stadium on November 23, 2017 in Arlington, Texas. Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Getty Images

Getty Images

Dallas Cowboys against the the Los Angeles Chargers during a Thanksgiving Day game at AT&T Stadium on November 23, 2017 in Arlington, Texas. Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Matthew Ferreira

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Thanksgiving Day is one of America’s favorite holidays, filled with food, family, friends and traditions.

Every family celebrates Thanksgiving in their own special way, but a common constant in many households is watching football games aired throughout the day.

The tradition of Thanksgiving football started back in 1876 when Yale and Princeton faced off in the first recorded holiday contest. But the NFL’s broadcasts have gained massive popularity over the last century.

The NFL has been hosting Thanksgiving Day games for almost 100 years, entertaining millions of viewers at holiday events annually.

The two most popular games each year are hosted by the Detroit Lions, who have been hosts since 1934, and the Dallas Cowboys who started hosting games in 1966.

The teams originally started playing in these games as part of a marketing and publicity effort, but now the games are a timeless tradition.

The Cowboys, dubbed “America’s Team,” have helped drive the popularity of Thanksgiving football over the years. Most Americans want to watch the Cowboys on Thanksgiving, regardless of their feelings about football the other 364 days of the year.

In fact, the NFL reported a 2018 viewership of over 30 million people for the Cowboys 2018 match-up against the Los Angeles Chargers.

So why is Thanksgiving football so popular?

One of the main reasons is that most find it more entertaining than an average Sunday morning game.

Even dinner guests that aren’t usually fans seem to end up gathered around the TV at some point to check the scores and ask the traditional question, “How ‘bout them Cowboys?”

People tend to care about football a little bit more on Thanksgiving, regardless of their stake in the game.

“Watching football on Thanksgiving is kind of just something that we’ve always done at my house,” Chico State student Bryce Williamson said. “It’s something to always look forward to and gives everyone something to talk about and get excited about even if they aren’t necessarily football fans.”

Since Thanksgiving football caters to fans and non-fans alike, it has become a holiday staple in many homes across the country. After all, is there anything more relaxing than sitting down with a big plate of home-cooked food and watching a good football game with your family?

“We always have the football games on at our house every year on Thanksgiving, it’s just as much of a tradition as opening presents on Christmas morning,” Chico State student Justin Haworth said.

As the years have gone by, football has seemed to gain popularity, providing something to help family and friends come together during the holiday season. This Thanksgiving tradition won’t be going away anytime soon.

Matthew Ferreira can be reached at [email protected] or @MattFerreira__ on Twitter.