CLOSE

Woody's Winners, NFL Week 11

NFL WEEK ELEVEN

We say goodbye to bye weeks in Week 11, returning to a full schedule of 16 games per week for the remainder of the 2010 NFL season. I returned to Earth with a 7-7 record last week, but a win in Thursday night’s Bears-Dolphins game brings my overall record this year to a respectable 82-63. Will the wackiness continue this week? Thursday's game was already picked (and played), so here are Woody's Winners for the Sunday and Monday games in Week 11. Enjoy!

+++

Green Bay (6-3) @ Minnesota (3-6)

In his 299th career regular-season game, Brett Favre faces the team he led for 16 seasons – the Green Bay Packers. Earlier this year, he lost to his former team for the first time, but the 41-year-old QB hopes to fare better at home. Meanwhile, the Cheesehead Nation needs a win to keep pace with the Bears. There’s plenty of dairyland in both Wisconsin and Minnesota, but there’s a secret most folks don’t know about the Vikings: They’re lactose intolerant.

Woody’s Winner: Green Bay

FACT: The Packers have beaten the Vikings 50 times, more often than any other NFL team. (Minnesota’s overall record against Green Bay is 47-50-1).

Please click "more" to see Woody's Winners for the remaining Week 11 NFL games.

+++

Washington (4-5) @ Tennessee (5-4)

The one-two punch of a loss to Detroit and a blowout (at home!) against Philly has rattled the Hog Nation. Washington will also be without the services of RB Ryan Torain, but Clinton Portis is back in action to take his place. The Titans have fizzled as well, but the LP Field crowd should help QB Vince Young and RB Chris Johnson move the ball against the Redskins’ weak defense. It wouldn't surprise me if both of these teams ended Week 11 with an even record, but Tennessee should find a way to make the 'Skins cry, even without tossing some garbage by the side of the road.

Woody’s Winner: Tennessee

FACT: The road team has won the last 3 matchups between these teams.

+++

Arizona (3-6) @ Kansas City (5-4)

In Week 5, the Cardinals shocked the Saints to improve their record to 3-2, and headed into their bye week with confidence. Since then, they’ve lost four straight. The Chiefs have similarly fallen, following a 3-0 start with 4 losses in their last 6 games. QB Matt Cassel threw for 469 yards last week against Denver, proving that KC can do more than run the ball, but his effort still left his team 20 points short at game’s end. The crowd at Arrowhead Stadium should help the team’s defense recover against a Cactus League squad that ranks next-to-last in yards on offense. It looks like Phoenix isn’t done flaming out quite yet.

Woody’s Winner: Kansas City

FACT: Since the Cardinals moved from Missouri to Arizona, they’ve only won 1 of 5 games against the Chiefs, their former in-state rival.

+++

Baltimore (6-3) @ Carolina (1-8)

Either in the regular season or the playoffs, the Ravens have defeated 31 NFL franchises, but they’re 0-3 all-time against the Panthers. Of course, Baltimore is stark Raven mad after Week 10’s last-minute loss to the Falcons, and Carolina will be the unfortunates on the hurting end of all that anger. The purple-and-black will complete their collection this week, and may even enjoy some tennis after the game. Somebody will have to find a way to recycle the Cat gut that’ll litter the field at Bank of America Stadium. 40-Love!

Woody’s Winner: Baltimore

FACT: New Carolina starting QB Brian St. Pierre has thrown only five passes in his 8-year career as a backup with the Steelers, Ravens, Cardinals, and Panthers.

+++

Buffalo (1-8) @ Cincinnati (2-7)

No one expected the Bengals to fall behind the Browns in the AFC North, particularly the team’s fans. Empty seats at Paul Brown Stadium mean the first Cincy blackout since 2003. Of course, it’s tough to sell tickets when your team’s biggest star refers to the upcoming home game as the “battle of the worst.” The team from Queen City has lost six in a row, but none of those by more than 8 points. But an intimidating second-half schedule (including road games vs. the Jets, Steelers, and Ravens) means that Terrell Owens has officially thrown in the towel. The Stripes will pull this one out, but at game’s end, no Buffalo will have been harmed in the making of this production.

Woody’s Winner: Cincinnati

FACT: The Bills have won 9 in a row against the Bengals, with their last loss way back in 1988.

+++

Detroit (2-7) @ Dallas (2-7)

The last time these two silver-and-blue teams faced one another was in Dallas in 2006. Uncharacteristically, the Lions won that game on the road, 39-31. But last week’s loss at previously-winless Buffalo has given Motown 25 consecutive losses away from home. Woody made the unforgiveable mistake of picking Detroit last week (even though they were on the road). Truth be told, it was wishful thinking from a Michigan resident who won’t make that mistake twice. Despite their surprising victory last week, the Cowboys are still in trouble, but back-to-back wins will help Jerry Jones cut back on his aspirin intake for a few days.

Woody’s Winner: Dallas

FACT: For the 2010 season, the Lions are #1 and the Cowboys #3 in the NFC in pass attempts.

+++

Houston (4-5) @ N.Y. Jets (7-2)

After back-to-back wins to open the season, the Texans seemed destined to turn the corner. Now, losers of 3 in a row, they want to right the ship before somebody slaps an “S.S. Poseidon” sticker on its bow. Unfortunately, that’s a lot to ask when your opponent is considered one of the AFC’s best. Let’s face it, though, the Jets have struggled since their Week 7 bye; they were shut-out at home by Green Bay, and it took overtime for them to KO the Lions and Browns. Pass defense is the Achilles ’ heel for both teams, but will that mean more to Schaub or Sanchez? The answer, my friend, is an airliner in the wind.

Woody’s Winner: New York

FACT: The Texans are 0-4 all-time vs. the Jets, and have never scored more than 14 points against New York’s defense.

+++

Oakland (5-4) @ Pittsburgh (6-3)

In what promises to be a must-see game, the Raiders – surprise winners of 3 straight – ramble east to face the Steelers. Pittsburgh started the season 3-0 but have lost half their games since, despite the return of QB Ben Roethlisberger. It will be interesting to see if Oakland’s power-run game can make a dent in Steeltown’s top-ranked rush defense. Last season, the Silver and Black came into Heinz Field and put a hurting on the Black and Gold. Both teams will be Black and Blue when this one’s over, but that's the way (uh-huh, uh-huh) they like it. Uh-huh.

Woody’s Winner: Pittsburgh

FACT: The Steelers (4 wins) and Steelers (2 wins) combined to capture 6 of the 7 Super Bowl crowns from 1975-1981.

+++

Cleveland (3-6) @ Jacksonville (5-4)

The Browns don’t need to impress me any more this season. With a tough schedule, they’ve won 3 games and have been within one score of winning 4 others. Last week’s OT loss against the Jets proved that Cleveland has something special in the works. Will they be able to pull out a win this week? The Dawgs have won their last three games in Jacksonville, so it’s possible. The Jags have earned back-to-back wins, and the fans paid them back by selling out this game and preventing another local blackout. Too bad they won’t be able to do much about a Brownout.

Woody’s Winner: Cleveland

FACT: In the previous two games (both victories), Jaguars QB David Garrard has completed 41 of 52 passes for 602 yards and 6 TDs, without throwing an interception.

+++

Seattle (5-4) @ New Orleans (6-3)

Beyond a Week 6 win at Chicago, the Seahawks have performed very poorly against the league’s better teams, so they’re not looking forward to facing the defending Super Bowl champions in the Superdome. The Saints will be missing some important pieces, notably S Darren Sharper and TE Jeremy Shockey, but the team should benefit from the expected return of RB Reggie Bush. Seattle QB Matt Hasselbeck is playing despite a broken bone in his non-throwing hand. The Bayou Boys will blitz the ‘Hawks early and often, and if they’re successful – or even if they’re not – QB Drew Brees will make it crystal clear why Nawlins is called “the Big Easy.”

Woody’s Winner: New Orleans

FACT: RB Chris Ivory leads the Saints with 78 rushes, but has yet to score a TD on the ground.

+++

Atlanta (7-2) @ St. Louis (4-5)

As the only NFC team with 7 victories, the Falcons feel like they’re the team to beat. But truth be told, the Rams are just the type of team that could upset Atlanta. With a solid defense and an opportunistic offense, St. Louis has held its own this season, and they’ve won four in a row at home heading into this game. If the Dirty Birds get caught looking ahead to next week’s game against Green Bay, those broken wings will make the trip back to the ATL that much harder. Still, Hotlanta has taken on all comers with beaks out, and there’ll be bleating and bleeding when all’s said and done.

Woody’s Winner: Atlanta

FACT: Four of the Rams’ last six games will be played on the road, where they’re 0-4 this season.

+++

Tampa Bay (6-3) @ San Francisco (3-6)

After hitting rock-bottom with a Week 7 lost at then-winless Carolina, the 49ers have recovered under new QB Troy Smith with back-to-back victories, both at home. This week, they’ll appear at Candlestick Park yet again, as the Buccaneers sail their pirate ship into San Francisco Bay. ‘Niners RB Frank Gore should have a field day against Tampa’s 31st-ranked run defense, but his solo effort won’t be enough to keep the sea-robbers from plundering all the gold in California.

Woody’s Winner: Tampa Bay

FACT: The 49ers hold a 15-3 all-time record against the Buccaneers.

+++

Indianapolis (6-3) @ New England (7-2)

The Patriots have been razor-sharp at Gillette Stadium this season, winning all four of their home games. While the Colts haven’t been as spectacular as in years past, they’ve quietly compiled a 6-3 record and now sit atop the AFC South. Indianapolis expects to be without RB Joseph Addai, but the game will hinge on QB Peyton Manning’s success against a shellshocked New England pass defense. If he’s recovered from his concussion, WR Austin Collie may leave the Pats wondering who Timmy is and why he fell down a well. While they’re trying to figure it out, the points will pile up against them.

Woody’s Winner (in an upset): Indianapolis

FACT: The 3 most recent games between these teams have each been decided by fewer than 5 points.

+++

N.Y. Giants (6-3) @ Philadelphia (6-3)

The G-Men have lost four in a row to the Eagles, and won’t have many supporters this Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field. Last week’s loss to the Cowboys looked like a fluke, but it may have shaken their confidence. Meanwhile, Philadelphia continues to prove that they’re a better team with Michael Vick than Kevin Kolb, avenging their Week 4 loss to the Redskins by.  hanging 59 points on them last week. They won’t find that level of success against the tough New York D, of course. But what Philly’s baseball team couldn’t do to the baseball Giants will be corrected late Sunday night, and the streets of Philadelphia will rock once again.

Woody’s Winner: Philadelphia

FACT: In 2010, Eagles QB Michael Vick has thrown 11 TDs and run for 4 more. Most surprising, he’s done so without losing a fumble or throwing an interception.

+++

Denver (3-6) @ San Diego (4-5)

Last week, the Broncos surprised everyone by dropping a Rocky Mountain high 49 points against the Chiefs, the most they’ve scored since the AFL-NFL merger. They won the game despite allowing KC QB Matt Cassell 469 yards through the air. San Diego QB Philip Rivers could put up similar numbers, but may be without his top WR and TE as well as rookie RB Ryan Mathews. Despite back-to-back wins and statistics that are the envy of many teams, the Lightning Bolts have a losing record. But they’re only one game behind in the AFC West, and a win against a divisional opponent would improve their playoff chances. Expect a power surge at Qualcomm Stadium on Monday night.

Woody’s Winner: San Diego

FACT: This will be the 101st regular-season game between these two teams; they’ve played twice a year annually since the AFL’s premiere season in 1960.

+++

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below, but please be cordial to others; this is all in good fun. Thanks!

nextArticle.image_alt|e
WWE, YouTube
arrow
#TBT
The Gobbledy Gooker: Wrestling's Most Bizarre Gimmick
WWE, YouTube
WWE, YouTube

I don’t remember much about being seven years old, but I’ll never forget Thanksgiving Day, 1990, at my Uncle John’s house on Staten Island. While the adults were in the dining room drinking and laughing, I was glued to the television, watching my heroes Hulk Hogan, the Ultimate Warrior, and the Legion of Doom. It was WWF’s Survivor Series pay-per-view, and it was basically the coolest thing I’d ever seen.

But that night was memorable for another reason: It was the debut of one of the most celebrated wrestlers in history, a man who’d go on to win seven WWF (now WWE) Heavyweight Championships, as well as an unprecedented and inimitable 21 straight Wrestlemania matches. This man was not a man at all, but an undead monster. A “Phenom,” as WWE announcers would go on to call him.

On that day, the world got its first glimpse of the Undertaker.

This is not his story.

No, this story is about another debut from that night. One that was so perplexing that, more than a quarter-century later, fans are still scratching their heads.

I am talking about what is considered one of wrestling’s worst gimmicks: the Gobbledy Gooker.

WHAT'S IN THE EGG?

The Gobbledy Gooker was actually the most anticipated part of that evening, which only adds to the mystery of how this happened. For the unfamiliar, the Gobbledy Gooker started its life as an egg, hyped heavily on televised WWF broadcasts in the weeks leading up to Survivor Series. The world would find out what's in the egg, it was promised, during the big pay-per-view event on Thanksgiving.

When Survivor Series finally aired, all was revealed. “Mean” Gene Okerlund, the voice of the WWF in the 1980s and early 1990s, enhanced the drama. “Is it the playmate of the month?” Gene asked, to the cheers of men across the arena. “The way it sounds to me right now, the speculating is all over!” I couldn’t handle it anymore. Break open, already, dammit. Break!

When the egg finally did break open, few in the crowd at Connecticut's Hartford Civic Center could believe what was inside: a man in a giant, cartoonish turkey costume.

To say fans were unhappy is an understatement. Watching the video now, you can immediately hear the boos. As the turkey climbs off its platform, “Mean” Gene tries to sell it to the fans. “Take a look at it ladies and gentlemen!” Okerlund exclaims. “Feathers, a beak, a little rooster tail on top. You’ve got a pair of legs like my mother-in-law, pal.”

The Gooker leans in and gobbles into Okerlund's microphone.

"What is with the gobbledy?" Okerlund asks. "Don't tell me you're the Gobbledy Gooker?"

The Gooker grabs Gene, and the two walk to the ring, run the ropes, and dance the show off the air to a cheesy version of “Turkey in the Straw.”

At the time, I was confused, though not as angry as most of the fans in attendance. Looking back, I still don’t see what kind of sense it was supposed to make. After about a month or so, the Gooker was all but gone, little more than a bizarre, tryptophan-aided memory.

If he was supposed to wrestle, the entire costume seemed unreasonable. If he was meant as a mascot, who was he representing? And why did Vince McMahon, who had just hours earlier introduced the great Undertaker, follow it up with this?

I had to know.

So I asked.

THE MAN BEHIND THE BEAK

The Gobbledy Gooker, it turns out, was a wrestler named Héctor Guerrero, a member of the famous Guerrero wrestling family; son of the great Gory Guerrero, brother of Chavo, Mando, and Eddie Guerrero. While not the surefire hall-of-famer Eddie was, Hector’s career was nothing to sneeze at. He won more than two dozen titles across the country, including multiple tag titles, an NWA World Junior Heavyweight Championship with Crockett Promotions, and an NWA Florida Heavyweight Championship. In 2007, he moved into the broadcast booth, joining the Spanish commentary team for the Total Nonstop Action promotion, where he remained until 2015.


Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0 

Most wrestlers have had a gimmick that doesn’t work, or one that they’re embarrassed by. For example, hard-nosed British technical wrestler William Regal was once known as “The Real Man’s Man,” a guy who chopped wood and wore a hard hat. The Undertaker’s in-character brother, a demon from hell named Kane, was previously a wrestling dentist. It’s all part of the business.

But over the phone from his Florida home, Hector doesn’t sound embarrassed. To him, the entire Gobbledy Gooker thing was a missed business opportunity, one he says could have worked if it was given the right venue. He’s vehement that, in front of the right crowd, it would have been recognized for exactly what it was: Something fun to entertain the kids. “It was always for the children,” Hector told Mental Floss. He says he was not ready for the rowdy northeastern crowd he faced that night in Hartford, and thought that a more kid-friendly audience would have been more appropriate.

“It was not a kid crowd,” he laughs.

GOOKER'S ORDERS FROM THE TOP

Hector started receiving calls from the WWE in early 1990, months before Survivor Series. He was not immediately responsive. Years prior, he says, he had a brief but antagonistic encounter with one of the company’s agents, so he didn’t pay the calls much attention. He eventually relented, however, and soon he was speaking directly to the man in charge himself, current WWE CEO Vince McMahon. The two had a cordial conversation—McMahon was reaching out because wrestling legend Dusty Rhodes had vouched for Hector.

The idea, as Hector remembers, was a fun mascot for kids who would eventually start actually wrestling. Months after getting the call from Vince, Hector tried out for Gooker in person.

There was some initial hesitation about Hector's body type. The WWE was fresh off a 1980s era that prized the godlike physiques of wrestlers like Hulk Hogan. Hector, who had just gone on two tours with the Ted Turner-owned World Championship Wrestling, was smaller than most of the roster.

The Guerrero family, from Mexico City, was known for melding the exciting, Mexican lucha libre-style of wrestling—athletic, fast-paced, freeform, and acrobatic—with a traditional American style inspired by old school wrestlers like Dory Funk Sr. Years later, when Hector’s brother Eddie and other lucha-style wrestlers became stars with the WCW, they were exclusively part of the company’s cruiserweight division—wrestling that often demanded a smaller physique.

“They had expected to see me bigger, but at this time, when this all happened, I was on a very strict diet,” Hector says. “They didn’t realize that us light guys could do things that could maybe draw money.”

Nonetheless, Hector credits his small, athletic build and quick skill set as the impetus for WWF’s call. The work he did with WCW as “High Flying” Hector Guerrero was innovative to American audiences, and despite his smaller-than-average size, Hector impressed during his WWE Survivor Series tryout—all while performing in full turkey getup.

He was asked to put on the costume and show what he could do in the ring, and he bounced from rope to rope, doing flips and cartwheels. To see, Hector had to look through two holes drilled into the giant turkey mask's bulging plastic eyeballs, which was extremely difficult. To look left or right, he had to rotate his entire head. Still, he nailed the audition and landed the gig.

Hector started to receive a stipend and began working as part of the company. When wrestler Tito Santana was to debut a new character, El Matador, WWE wanted native Spanish-speaker Hector in Mexico to help film vignettes. And having been in the business since he was a teenager, the 36-year-old Hector also knew a few friendly faces in the company. His traveling companion, Terry Szopinski—better known to wrestling fans as the Warlord—helped him bulk up on the road. Even he and the Undertaker, who would later debut on that same Thanksgiving night, shared a brief history in WCW, where Hector was impressed with the agile big man’s work.

GOBBLEDY GOOKER'S BIG NIGHT

On Thanksgiving 1990, Hector huddled in a box underneath the giant egg for four hours—enough time so that no one entering the Hartford Civic Center could see him before the show. He was given a TV monitor, a light, and some drinks and snacks. The crew pranked him by pasting pornographic photos inside the box. (Hector, who says he was by then a devout Christian, was not amused.)

The night went on, and Hector waited patiently for his moment. Suddenly, Gene Okerlund began to talk about the egg, and Gobbledy Gooker knew it was time to hatch.


Sadly, it did not go well.

“As I stepped down to talk to Gene, the more boos I hear,” he says. “You know, I can’t hear the kids screaming that they like it, but I can hear the people, because there’s more adults. And they’re booing the heck out of it.”

Okerlund put the microphone down, and said to Hector, “We’re going to put it over,” meaning they were going to try to make it work. They marched to the ring and Okerlund, to his credit, did his best Charlie Chaplin routine, stumbling, tripping, and falling. Someone later told Hector that Okerlund woke up the next day with bruises all over his body from trying so hard to sell the routine.

As the Gobbledy Gooker made his way backstage after his performance, Hector felt the stares and immediately felt like a pariah. “I worked pretty hard,” he says. “I put my 110, 115 percent, like all my matches. I put all of my ability into it.”

“It was an egg,” he adds, exasperated. “What’s going to hatch out of an egg?”

THE GOBBLEDY GOOKER'S END

Hector continued touring with WWF for a month without incident, save for one. Hector was again asked to do his Gobbledy Gooke routine, this time at Madison Square Garden. The crew told him they would shine a spotlight as he approached the ring. He agreed.

When announcer Howard Finkel called out the Gooker’s name, the familiar “Turkey in the Straw” beat dropped. Hector was ushered through the curtain by stage hands. That’s when he says he knew he was in for some trouble.

Hector walked through the curtain into pitch darkness. Suddenly, he was hit with a spotlight. It shined through the large white eyeballs of the costume's mask, and he couldn’t see a thing.

In his telling, he says he was hurried down the aisle by crew members, feeling his way as he went. He eventually got to the ring, busted his knee on the steel steps, climbed to the apron, and, unable to see what he was doing, flipped over the top rope and came crashing down to the mat with a thud.

“All I can see is white,” he recalls. “I can’t see where the ground is. I can’t land on the ground, because I see white. So I landed on my butt. “


WWE

The main lights were eventually turned on, and a frazzled Hector finished up his routine. Backstage, he was greeted by an upset Vince McMahon, who simply walked away from him. He was later approached by the legendary announcer “Gorilla” Monsoon.

“You couldn’t see, right?” Gorilla asked.

“Yeah,” Hector responded.

“We figured that out,” Gorilla deadpanned.

It was an impossible situation, according to Hector. About a month after his debut at Survivor Series, he was out of a job. He said there was no formal conversation. The company just stopped booking and paying him.

Looking back on the incident decades later, Hector isn’t bitter. This was not always the case. Losing the WWF opportunity was tough on him and his family, and he went to work as a gymnastics coach before wrestling again for other, smaller companies. Around Survivor Series 1991, he says he was again offered the Gobbledy Gooker gig. He did not accept.

As time went on, Hector’s outlook changed. He now considers any alleged slight as “water under the bridge.” His younger brother, the late Eddie Guerrero, and his nephew, Chavo Guerrero Jr., both went on to become WWF stars. He’s happy with the way his family was later treated by the company, has no ill will, and characterizes most of his experiences working with McMahon and others as very professional. After ending his tenure with Total Nonstop Action in early 2015, Hector started a wrestler consulting business and hopes to use the skills he learned under his father and through his more than 30 years in the business to help other wrestlers succeed.

In 2001, Hector even agreed to don the Gobbledy Gooker suit in Houston for Wrestlemania X-Seven, in a “gimmick battle royal” with 18 other gimmicky wrestlers from WWE’s past. It was an over-the-top-rope elimination match, and he was eliminated by Tugboat, a heavyset wrestler known in the 1980s for dressing like a sailor.

At the 2006 WWE Hall of Fame ceremony, Hector Guerrero sat in the crowd to watch the induction of his late brother Eddie.

That same night saw the induction of “Mean” Gene Okerlund, who recounted that infamous experience he and the Gooker shared 27 years ago.

“Hector, we had a lot of fun,” Okerlund said. “But all is forgotten.”

Sorry Gene, but the Gooker lives on. And Hector wouldn’t have it any other way.

This article originally ran in 2015.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Rey Del Rio/Getty Images
arrow
Big Questions
Why Do the Lions and Cowboys Always Play on Thanksgiving?
Rey Del Rio/Getty Images
Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

Because it's tradition! But how did this tradition begin?

Every year since 1934, the Detroit Lions have taken the field for a Thanksgiving game, no matter how bad their record has been. It all goes back to when the Lions were still a fairly young franchise. The team started in 1929 in Portsmouth, Ohio, as the Spartans. Portsmouth, while surely a lovely town, wasn't quite big enough to support a pro team in the young NFL. Detroit radio station owner George A. Richards bought the Spartans and moved the team to Detroit in 1934.

Although Richards's new squad was a solid team, they were playing second fiddle in Detroit to the Hank Greenberg-led Tigers, who had gone 101-53 to win the 1934 American League Pennant. In the early weeks of the 1934 season, the biggest crowd the Lions could draw for a game was a relatively paltry 15,000. Desperate for a marketing trick to get Detroit excited about its fledgling football franchise, Richards hit on the idea of playing a game on Thanksgiving. Since Richards's WJR was one of the bigger radio stations in the country, he had considerable clout with his network and convinced NBC to broadcast a Thanksgiving game on 94 stations nationwide.

The move worked brilliantly. The undefeated Chicago Bears rolled into town as defending NFL champions, and since the Lions had only one loss, the winner of the first Thanksgiving game would take the NFL's Western Division. The Lions not only sold out their 26,000-seat stadium, they also had to turn fans away at the gate. Even though the juggernaut Bears won that game, the tradition took hold, and the Lions have been playing on Thanksgiving ever since.

This year, the Lions host the Minnesota Vikings.

HOW 'BOUT THEM COWBOYS?


Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Cowboys, too, jumped on the opportunity to play on Thanksgiving as an extra little bump for their popularity. When the chance to take the field on Thanksgiving arose in 1966, it might not have been a huge benefit for the Cowboys. Sure, the Lions had filled their stadium for their Thanksgiving games, but that was no assurance that Texans would warm to holiday football so quickly.

Cowboys general manager Tex Schramm, though, was something of a marketing genius; among his other achievements was the creation of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.

Schramm saw the Thanksgiving Day game as a great way to get the team some national publicity even as it struggled under young head coach Tom Landry. Schramm signed the Cowboys up for the game even though the NFL was worried that the fans might just not show up—the league guaranteed the team a certain gate revenue in case nobody bought tickets. But the fans showed up in droves, and the team broke its attendance record as 80,259 crammed into the Cotton Bowl. The Cowboys beat the Cleveland Browns 26-14 that day, and a second Thanksgiving pigskin tradition caught hold. Since 1966, the Cowboys have missed having Thanksgiving games only twice.

Dallas will take on the Los Angeles Chargers on Thursday.

WHAT'S WITH THE NIGHT GAME?


Patrick Smith/Getty Images

In 2006, because 6-plus hours of holiday football was not sufficient, the NFL added a third game to the Thanksgiving lineup. This game is not assigned to a specific franchise—this year, the Washington Redskins will welcome the New York Giants.

Re-running this 2008 article a few days before the games is our Thanksgiving tradition.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios