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Leon Lett's Gaffe, Walter Payton's Big Day And The Buttfumble Among Classic NFL Thanksgiving Moments

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In this Nov. 25, 1993 file photo, The Dallas Cowboys and Miami Dolphins meet on the icy field of Texas Stadium for an NFL football game on Thanksgiving Day in Irving, Texas. After blocking a field goal attempt with 15 seconds left in a snowy game, the Cowboys appear to have the win. But Leon Lett slides into the ball, which is now live; the Dolphins recover and Pete Stoyanovich kicks a game-winning 20-yard field goal with 3 seconds left. Dolphins win 16-14. (AP Photo/Glenn James, File) | ASSOCIATED PRESS

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — The NFL played six games on Thanksgiving in 1920. The holiday tradition apparently didn't settle in until 1934, the year the Detroit Lions were born.

Back then, the Lions were just looking for a way to take some attention from the Detroit Tigers, who were so popular that new football owner George A. Richards thought he needed a diversion even though it was baseball's offseason.

The game against Chicago was a big success, so the Lions have played on Thanksgiving ever since, save for a six-year gap during World War II. The Dallas Cowboys were invited to join them in 1966.

Every year since 1978, it's been Lions and Cowboys on turkey day, with the night-time addition of a third game starting in 2006 thanks to the rise of the NFL Network — although the night game now is on NBC.

Not to mention that there are now Thursday night games all season as the league expands its reach.

"It seems like every week a team is playing with the new schedule, but there's nothing like playing on Thanksgiving," said Cowboys tight end Jason Witten, who is the Thanksgiving leader since 1960 with 62 catches in 10 games and has 679 yards receiving and three touchdowns. "Every kid, I'm sure, growing up, I was no different. That's what you love. Your family eats and you watch the Cowboys play. It's special to be in that game."

And there have been a few special moments — or not so special, depending on your point of view — along the way.

Classic NFL Thanksgiving Moments
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