NFL Thanksgiving Day History: Best moments, traditions, records

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NFL Thanksgiving Day games history: Why the Lions and Cowboys play every year, best moments, traditions, records​

Thanksgiving Day to sports fans is as much about football as it is about the traditional turkey dinner. From high school football in the morning to watching the afternoon game on TV as dinner starts, this tradition is as old as time. Well, almost as old as time.

The Detroit Lions have played at home on Thanksgiving every year since 1934 -- except when games were paused from 1939 to 1944 during World War II. The annual holiday tradition expanded to add a home game for the Dallas Cowboys in the 1960s. These franchises -- and their fans -- only know football on Thanksgiving. In 2006, the NFL added a third game with no specific host team to the prime-time window.

This year's Thanksgiving Day schedule:

Chicago Bears at Lions: 12:30 p.m. ET, Fox

Las Vegas Raiders at Cowboys: 4:30 p.m. ET, CBS

Buffalo Bills at New Orleans Saints: 8:20 p.m. ET, NBC

So why do the Lions and Cowboys always play at home on Thanksgiving? What does the day look like for the coaches, players, families and fans who put their holiday celebrations on pause to take part? And how many thousands of pounds of food is served at the stadium? We asked NFL Nation reporters Todd Archer and Eric Woodyard to explain the history.

We also laid out the Thanksgiving stats and numbers you should know and even took a journey back in time to explore the biggest and best moments on the turkey day stage.