SWAC shares NFL Thanksgiving
The First Ever Thanksgiving Classic (1920)
Six games were played on November 25, 1920, the first football-filled Thanksgiving.
The Akron Pros beat the Canton Bulldogs, 7-0.
The Decatur Staleys beat the Chicago Tigers, 6-0.
The Dayton Triangles beat the Detroit Heralds 28-0.
Columbus Panhandles tied the Elyria Athletics, 0-0.
The Chicago Boosters beat the Hammond Pros, 27-0.
The All-Tonawanda beat the Rochester Jeffersons, 14-3.
Cowboys v. Redskins (1974)
In the 1974 Cowboys-Redskins classic, backup quarterback Clint Longley took over for an injured Roger Staubach with the team down 16-3 and rallied them to an improbable victory on two deep passes.
SWAC Ties: Five current schools in the SWAC were represented in that game. Bill Houston (Jackson State) played with the Cowboys while Verlon Biggs (Jackson State), Speedy Duncan (Jackson State), Alvin Reed (Prairie View A&M), Manny Sistrunk), Deacon Jones (Mississippi Valley State) and Ken Houston (Prairie View A&M) were members of the Redskins.
Cowboys v. Redskins (1994)
When Troy Aikman was injured and the Cowboys were forced to start third-string Cowboys quarterback Jason Garrett against the Green Bay Packers and QB Brett Favre. Garrett pulled through and the Cowboys won.
SWAC Ties: Joe Patton (Alabama A&M) was a memember of the Redskins.
Lions v. Bills (1976)
On Thanksgiving day, 1976 Bills RB O.J. Simpson set the league record for most rushing yards in a single game by racking up 273 yards against the Lions.
SWAC Ties: Lem Barney (Jackson State), Billy Howard (Alcorn State) and James Hunter (Grambling State) were members of the Detroit Lions. Robert Gaddis (Mississippi Valley State) and Roscoe Word (Jackson State) played for the Bills.
Lions v. Colts (1965)
In 1965, the Detroit Lions and the Baltimore Colts played in a Thanksgiving Classic that also happened to be the first-ever color television broadcast of an NFL game.
SWAC Ties: Jim Kearney (Prairie Viw A&M) was a member of the Lions and Willie Richardson (Jackson State), Roy Hilton (Jackson State) and Alvin Haymond (Southern) played for the Colts.
Lions v. Packers (1986)
Thanks to receiver Walter Stanley, the Thanksgiving matchup between the Lions and the Packers was the highest scoring game in Thanksgiving history. Stanley, who had an otherwise mediocre career, netted 207 yards and three touchdowns that day, including an 83-yard punt return to win the 44-40 game for the Packers
SWAC Ties: Jimmie Giles (Alcorn State) and Curtis Green (Alabama State) played for the Lions
Bears v. Lions (1980)
In 1980, Chicago and Detroit headed into what looked like was going to be a long overtime. But Bears returner David Williams had other plans. He returned the opening kickoff in overtime for a touchdown, the only time that has happened in a Thanksgiving game.
SWAC Ties: Grambling State's James Hunter and John Mendenhall were teammates with the Lions while Jackson State's Wa;ter Payton played with the Bears.
First Ever 'Turkey Leg Award' (1989)
In 1989, John Madden awarded the first-ever "Turkey Leg Award" (it was a real turkey) to the game's most valuable player, Reggie White of the Philadelphia Eagles who beat the Cowboys that day 27-0
That 1989 game also made instant history for another reason. The 27-0 drubbing of the Cowboys was nicknamed the "Bounty Bowl" when Buddy Ryan allegedlt placed a bounty on the Cowboys kicker, starting the first of three bitterly-contested games between the two teams.
SWAC Ties: Issiac Holt (Alcorn State) and Everson Walls (Grambling State) were on the roster of the Cowboys and Jimmie Giles (Alcorn State) was an Eagle.
Cowboys v. Bears (2004)
Cowboys QB Drew Henson started the 2004 Thanksgiving Classic against the Bears but was benched after being shut out in the first half. In came Vinny Testaverde. Testaverde, with the help of then-rookie running back Julius Jones, led the Cowboys to victory.
SWAC Ties: Lenny Williams (Southern) played for the Cowboys.
Broncos v. Chiefs (2006)
2006 marks the first year that the NFL instituted a third Thanksgiving game on the NFL Network. The Kansas City Chiefs went on to beat the Denver Broncos in that inaugural night game, 19-10.
SWAC Ties: Louis Green (Alcorn State) was a member of the Broncos and Greg Wesley (Arkansas-Pine Bluff) played for the Chiefs.