In what has now become an annual occurrence; The Dallas Cowboys have hosted a Thanksgiving Day game every year since its first, in 1966. The Detroit Lions host the first game of the day, followed by the Dallas Cowboys in the second game. In 2006, the NFL started the practice of having a 3rd game played on this holiday, and this game is played on the NFL Network. Thanksgiving has been commonly referred to by many as a “NFL football holiday”; while Christmas has more and more become an “NBA basketball holiday”.
Of the four seasons we have on this planet, fall is by far my favorite. It’s the changing color of the leaves, the cool briskness in the air, and of course “football season”. My favorite time of the year starts with the week of Thanksgiving, and that ends after the first week of the New Year. These times are more special and the ones that stay in your memories the most.
For Thanksgiving, I have many, many memories. Many of these memories took place while having the aforementioned slate of football games on in the background while everything else was going on around the home with friends and family members. Some of these Cowboy games were great, some were not.
In 1989, what has been named “The Bounty Bowl”; the Philadelphia Eagles came into Dallas and blew out the Cowboys 27-0. The were numerous cheap shots taken in this game and Jimmy Johnson exploded in the postgame press conference over Buddy Ryan’s dirty tactics. In 1993, the Miami Dolphins are playing the Cowboys on a snow-covered field in a tight game. The Cowboys are up 14-13 with :26 left on the clock in the 4th quarter. The Dolphins field goal attempt to take the lead was blocked by the Cowboys, however, it was a “live ball” until the referees blow the play dead. All of the Cowboys on the field stayed away from the ball, except one. Leon Lett came out of nowhere and tried to jump on the ball, yet due to the snowy conditions could not recover it and the ball was recovered by the Dolphins for a first down. The Dolphins then proceeded to take another attempt at the field goal at a closer range, and won the game 16-14.
In 1994, with Troy Aikman and Rodney Peete unavailable, Jason Garrett comes in to save the day with the Cowboys down 24-3 to Brett Farve and the Green Bay Packers. In the second half, Garrett throws for over 300 yards and leads the team to a record 36 points for a comeback victory for the Cowboys, 42-31.
In 1998, the Minnesota Vikings visited Dallas on Thanksgiving Day, and Randy Moss made the Cowboys pay for passing on him in the 1998 NFL Draft. Moss, who had wanted to be a Cowboy and who grew up a fan of the team, just ate the secondary alive enroute to a 3 touchdown, 163 yard receiving performance for the ages. To this day, I wonder how the Cowboy fortunes would have changed had they selected Moss instead of picking Greg Ellis in the aforementioned draft. Michael Irvin personally called to apologize to Moss after the draft, because it was due to Irvin’s off the field issues that the Cowboys did not want to risk potentially have problems again with a wide receiver. Jerry Jones has never forgiven himself for passing on Moss, and this is the exact reason why Dez Bryant is wearing the star today.
I’ve personally attended two Thanksgiving Day games, with those being 2006 & 2007. The 2006 game is where Tony Romo showed his greatness with a huge breakout game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as he threw 5 touchdown passes enroute to a 38-10 victory. In 2007 the Cowboys played the New York Jets. It was cold inside Texas Stadium and there was snow falling inside of the stadium. While at the game, I recall thinking that it could end up being one of those historic games with the snow. However the Cowboys destroyed the Jets 34-3, and it only became memorable to the people in attendance.
With today’s game being played against the longtime rival Washington Redskins, RGIII will play his first Thanksgiving Day game. Having moved to the town of Copperas Cove, TX (3 hours south of Dallas) at the age of seven, Griffith knows all about the tradition of these games and the meaning they have to Cowboy fans. I truly think Griffith is a special player, and absolutely hated it when I saw that the Redskins made a pre-draft deal with the St. Louis Rams to move up to the #2 overall pick in the 2012 Draft. The Cleveland Browns were the Redskins chief competition for this pick, but simply would not meet the Rams asking price. To Cowboy fans dismay, the Redskins will benefit greatly and the Browns will suffer in mediocrity for the next 10 plus years due to this error in judgment by Cleveland.
Today’s game should be a close competitive game, as all NFC East games usually are. Both teams need it, so it will be interesting to see how it plays out. Get with your friends and family, and get nice and full before game time, because this one should be a good.
Follow Craig Cortemeglia on Twitter at @ccortemegliaTLH