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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The NFL Needs a New Thanksgiving Tradition

So with it technically being Thanksgiving and all, let me be the first to wish all my loyal readers a Happy Thanksgiving. J-Rod's Sportszone is thankful for those readers loyal to his blog, people who have just stumbled onto his blog, and those who have yet to stumble onto it. He is also extremely grateful for all sports, especially football in the falls. Many people don't get my obsession with this game but, like so many other things for other people, it is my happy diversion from the routine of daily life.

Also, with this Saturday marking the renewal of so many rivalries in college football, I would like to take an opportunity to suggest at least one sports-related Thanksgiving tradition that should be changed. That is the NFL's decision to broadcast only games hosted by either the Detroit Lions or the Dallas Cowboys on this day.

Now I do understand that later this evening(since it is technically Thursday morning) the New York Jets and the New England Patriots will play each other, but that is not the same thing. First, it will be broadcast on the NFL Network, which, in my humble opinion, might just be the worst invention in all of sports. I mean forget the fact that if my cable company didn't offer a free premium channel preview this weekend I wouldn't get to see Jets-Pats. I would rather watch the Big Ten Network than NFL Net. Ouch indeed.

But on to the point at hand. Despite pleas from Yahoo! that the Lions and Cowboys on Thanksgiving is a tradition not to be messed with, I don't agree. Certainly, however, I am not arguing for the Browns to be broadcast on this day, but, with Cleveland playing Pittsburgh this week, that might have been a better draw, seeing as that is one of the oldest rivalries in the NFL.

Or what about the Patriots and the Colts on Turkey Day? Certainly last Sunday's contest wasn't an edge-of-your-seat affair, but what if you put them in front of a national audience on a short week? Or how about the thriller that was Denver versus New England a few weeks earlier?

Or what about the most heated rivalry in all of professional sports, the Chicago Bears versus the Green Bay Packers? I don't know if you can go anywhere in the continental United States without running into a cheesehead or someone whose license plates reads 'Da Bears.' Wouldn't that game be more exciting than the Lions and the Texans?

And as much as the Cowboys may have been 'America's Team' in the late 80s and the 90s, I think their owner, Jerry Jones, has turned them into one of the most vilified franchises in the nation currently.  Isn't it quite possible, NFL, that by giving us a reprieve from the 'Boys on this holiday dedicated to food and football, it will allow those of us who aren't Dallas fans to bury the hatchet?

The point being is that, for the NFL anyway, today marks the largest captive television audience they will have all season. Yet they continue to squander such an opportunity for the sake of a tradition not nearly as old as the game of football itself.  Especially when they have already messed with two other hallowed traditions, namely kickoffs and overtimes, in the last two seasons.

It's time for the NFL to take a hint from the college ranks on this one. As conferences in collegiate football expand, some rivalries, like Oklahoma vs Nebraska, have died, while others, such as Nebraska vs Wisconsin, are born. So too, with the expansion of the NFL fanbase, should some of the old NFL traditions make way for new ones. And what better tradition to start anew than Thanksgiving Day programming.

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