Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Four pro football telecasts on Thanksgiving Day (1967-1969)

Thanksgiving Day football on TV has been a longstanding tradition. Since the 1970 merger, the NFL has always presented an early afternoon telecast from Detroit followed by a late afternoon game (from Dallas most years, but from St, Louis twice in 1970s). The Turkey Day telecast schedule expanded to a tripleheader in 2006 when the NFL added a prime time game on NFLN. The Thanksgiving night telecast moved to NBC starting in 2012.

But did you know that there used to be a total of four pro football telecasts on Thanksgiving Day? This was indeed the case from 1967 to 1969. During those seasons, CBS presented a pair of Turkey Day telecasts with staggered start times sandwiched around an AFL doubleheader on NBC. The four games represented a whopping 31% of the pro football schedule. During these threee seasons CBS would begin with a noon time game from Detroit. Then NBC provided a pair of AFL games starting in the early afternoon. Finally, CBS came back with a 6 pm game from Dallas. And on top of all that, ABC aired a mid-afternoon college game.

For example, here was the Thanksgiving Day TV menu on Thursday 11/27/1969 (all times ET):

  Vikings @ Lions, 12:15 pm, CBS
  Broncos @ Chiefs, 1:30 pm, NBC
  Texas Tech vs Arkansas, 2:30 pm, ABC
  Chargers @ Oilers, 4 pm, NBC
  49ers @ Cowboys, 6 pm, CBS

In a notable sign of the times, NBC used a 2.5 hour window for its early game.


  1. Ah, I remember those days, but I wasn't sure if I remembered them correctly. Did the AFL ever have a televised game on Thanksgiving night?

    Thanks for the reminder!

    1. No. The AFL had a few prime time national telecasts in the late 1960s, but never on Thanksgiving night.

  2. I wouldn't be surprised if Dallas's traditional Thanksgiving Day game gets moved to evening to become the prime-time game on Thanksgiving Night, perhaps as soon as this year (2017).

  3. How great was this?! And then, post-merger, two measly pro games. The NFL has always approached TV in an odd less-is-more manner (such as their current, ongoing DirecTV arrangement). Sigh....