Rivalries Old and New A New Thanksgiving Tradition
Baltimore November 28, 2013
Earlier this week, Baltimore Ravens Head Coach Jon Harbaugh called for the NFL to begin a new tradition of a yearly Thanksgiving game in Baltimore. The elder Harbaugh brother is on to something. The NFL should seriously consider making Baltimore (Ravens) the third home of a yearly Thanksgiving game joining Detroit (Lions) and Dallas (Cowboys). Why Baltimore? The answer simply lies with who Baltimore’s opponent is on Thursday night. Pittsburgh. No disrespect to the Peyton vs. Brady shootout lovers, but Thanksgiving football should be about hard hits and low scores. Baltimore vs. Pittsburgh, Ravens vs. Steelers a bitter bone crushing rivalry that has just as much the feel of a back yard Turkey Bowl as that of a prime-time NFL matchup.
However, it is that old school football feel that has made the Baltimore vs. Pittsburgh rivalry arguably the biggest in the NFL in recent years and that’s exactly what Thanksgiving football should be about. Hated Rivalries! History! Bad Blood and Hatred! Two of the three games on the 2013 Thanksgiving NFL Docket meet this criterion. We've already discussed the aforementioned renewal of the Ravens vs. Steelers rivalry. The Packers will make the trip to Detroit to take on the Lions for the 167th time since the teams first met in the 1930s. Rivalry check! History Check! And then we have the Raiders vs. Cowboys.
Yes, there is some history between these teams. Yes, they are two of the league’s most storied franchises. Yes, Dallas’s current owner Jerry Jones and Raiders late owner Al Davis are the most polarizing owners in league history. But, these teams don’t hate each other, nor does this match-up have any feel to it other than that of an early season BCS debacle between a top 5 team and some school paid to be obliterated. Last year however, the NFL got it right with the Dallas game when they placed them against their arch rival Redskins.
The National Football League is the goose that laid the golden egg and that golden egg is a compelling attractive can’t look away for a second we want more product. If the NFL powers that be are smart and I believe they are brilliant, they will make Thanksgiving Football one of our nation’s biggest sports stages about rivalries and tradition. Each year Detroit should take on Green Bay or Chicago, Dallas should do battle with Washington and Baltimore should go to war with Pittsburgh. Millions more will watch and new generations of football fans will learn to appreciate rivalries and tradition. At last, is Thanksgiving not all about being thankful and tradition?