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The following is a list of the television networks and announcers to broadcast the National Football League's annual Thanksgiving Classic series of games. Since 1998, the game with an NFC team as the visitors airs on Fox, as they have the rights to the NFC; CBS airs the game where when the St. Louis Cardinals hosted a game instead). Because of TV network commitments, to make sure that both the AFC-carrying network and the NFC-carrying network got at least one game each, one of these games was between NFC opponents, and one featured AFC-NFC opponents. Thus, the AFC could showcase only one team on Thanksgiving, and the AFC team was always the visiting team.

The two afternoon games are held at Detroit (12:30 p.m. EST) and Dallas (4:15 p.m. EST), respectively. Detroit always hosts the first game because a 12:30 p.m. EST kick-off at Dallas would be 11:30 a.m. local time (CST), and the NFL avoids starting games before noon locally. The two games rotate annually as intra-conference (NFC vs. NFC) and inter-conference (AFC vs. NFC) games. This is largely due to the format of the television contract with CBS and Fox. Since both Detroit and Dallas are NFC teams, in order for CBS to televise one of the games, one game must be against an AFC opponent. Inter-conference games of which the AFC team is away, are televised on CBS. For fairness between both networks and markets, the two games rotate annually between the two networks.

The "early" game kicks off at a special time of 12:30 p.m. EST as opposed to the typical afternoon start time of 1 p.m. This provides an additional 30 minutes to prevent overlapping of the "late" game, and also gives both networks time for a pregame show and some additional time for a halftime concert. In addition, the "early" game's network pre-game show is 30 minutes (12:00-12:30 p.m.) and the "late" game's pre-game show is 45 minutes (3:30-4:15 p.m.)

Detroit Lions hosted games

2000s

Year Network Play-by-play Color commentator(s) Sideline reporter(s)
2009 Fox Joe Buck Troy Aikman Pam Oliver
2008 CBS Jim Nantz Phil Simms
2007 Fox Joe Buck Troy Aikman Pam Oliver
2006 CBS Jim Nantz Phil Simms
2005 Fox Joe Buck Troy Aikman Pam Oliver
2004 CBS Jim Nantz Phil Simms Bonnie Bernstein
2003 Fox Joe Buck Troy Aikman and Cris Collinsworth Pam Oliver
2002 CBS Greg Gumbel Phil Simms Armen Keteyian
2001 Fox Pat Summerall John Madden Ron Pitts
2000 CBS Greg Gumbel Phil Simms Armen Keteyian


Notes

  • Following the 2008 season, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell confirmed that the Lions will be permitted to keep their Thanksgiving game for at least the 2009 season, though league owners may revisit the situation "later in the year" (possibly referring to the owner's meeting, which takes place before the schedule is set) if they so choose. Lions president Tom Lewand claims that their game is not in jeopardy, the controversy is media-generated and that the owners have never seriously talked about removing them; however, this contradicts Goodell who stated that "it's come up a few times." On March 23, 2009, the league owners officially kept the Lions on the Thanksgiving game with an announcement that the Lions would host the Green Bay Packers, one of their division rivals, on November 26. In addition, some have felt that if the Lions were to lose their Thanksgiving game, it would be bad for the Detroit economy, given the fact that the Big 3 automakers have been in dire straits. If a change were to be made, under current television contracts with CBS and Fox (which expire after the 2013 season), the early game (with a 12:30 start time) would have to be hosted by a team in the Eastern Time Zone and in the United States (if it were to be moved back a half-hour, the Central Time Zone would also be eligible to host, but because of numerous issues including extended halftime shows, this is unlikely; the annual game in Torontomarker is also out of the running because the date of American Thanksgiving is not a holiday in Canada), and their opponent be of the opposite conference of the one playing the Cowboys (as it is today). Furthermore, such a move would leave the Dallas Cowboys as the only team to always play on Thanksgiving, and with the Cowboys being the league's biggest television draw, there have been far fewer calls to remove them. SI.com columnist Peter King has speculated that when the current schedule rotation ends after 2009, both the Cowboys' and Lions' home Thanksgiving games will be reassessed by the league and possibly revoked.


1990s

Year Network Play-by-play Color commentator(s) Sideline reporter(s)
1999 Fox Pat Summerall John Madden D. J. Johnson
1998 CBS Greg Gumbel Phil Simms Armen Keteyian
1997 Fox Pat Summerall John Madden
1996 NBC Dick Enberg Phil Simms and Paul Maguire Jim Gray
1995 Fox Pat Summerall John Madden
1994 NBC Dick Enberg Bob Trumpy Hannah Storm
1993 CBS Pat Summerall John Madden
1992 NBC Dick Enberg Bob Trumpy
1991 CBS Pat Summerall John Madden
1990 NBC Dick Enberg Bill Walsh


1980s

Year Network Play-by-play Color commentator(s) Sideline reporter(s)
1989 NBC Dick Enberg Bill Walsh
1988 CBS Pat Summerall John Madden
1987 NBC Dick Enberg Merlin Olsen
1986 CBS Pat Summerall John Madden
1985 NBC Dick Enberg Merlin Olsen
1984 CBS Pat Summerall John Madden
1983 NBC Dick Enberg Merlin Olsen
1982 CBS Pat Summerall John Madden
1981 NBC Dick Enberg Merlin Olsen
1980 CBS Pat Summerall Tom Brookshier


1970s

Year Network Play-by-play Color commentator(s) Sideline reporter(s)
1979 CBS Pat Summerall Tom Brookshier
1978 NBC Dick Enberg Merlin Olsen
1977 CBS Pat Summerall Tom Brookshier
1976 NBC Curt Gowdy John Brodie
1975 CBS Pat Summerall Tom Brookshier
1974 NBC Curt Gowdy Al DeRogatis and Don Meredith
1973 CBS Ray Scott Pat Summerall Bruce Roberts
1972 NBC Curt Gowdy Al DeRogatis
1971 NBC Curt Gowdy Al DeRogatis
1970 NBC Curt Gowdy Kyle Rote


1960s

Year Network Play-by-play Color commentator(s) Sideline reporter(s)
1969 CBS Ray Scott Paul Christman Bruce Thomas
1968 CBS Ray Scott Paul Christman Bruce Thomas
1967 CBS Van Patrick Gil Stratton and Frank Gifford
1966 CBS Van Patrick (first half) and Bob Fouts (second half) Frank Gifford
1965 CBS Van Patrick (first half) and Chuck Thompson (second half) Pat Summerall (first half) and Frank Gifford (second half)
1964 CBS Van Patrick (first half) and Jack Buck (second half) Jim Morse (first half) and George Connor (second half)
1963 CBS Van Patrick (first half) and Ray Scott (second half) Russ Thomas
1962 CBS Ray Scott (first half) and Van Patrick (second half) Johnny Lujack
1961 CBS Van Patrick (first half) and Ray Scott (second half) Tony Canadeo
1960 CBS Ray Scott (national feed)
Van Patrick (Detroit market only)
Tony Canadeo (national feed)
Bob Reynolds (Detroit market only)


Notes





  • The 1960 Thanksgiving Day game had CBS' Green Bay Packers crew (at the time, CBS assigned each of their NFL announcing crews to cover one team for the entire season rather than on a merit system) call the gamm nationally. Meanwhile, the Detroit Lions crew only contributed the audio for the CBS Lions Network.


1950s

Year Network Play-by-play Color commentator(s) Sideline reporter(s)
1959 CBS Joe Boland (national feed)
Ray Scott (Green Bay market only)
Van Patrick (Detroit market only)

Paul Christman (national feed)
Tony Canadeo (Green Bay market only)
Bob Reynolds (Detroit market only)

1958 CBS Joe Boland (first half; national feed) and Chris Schenkel (second half; national feed)
Ray Scott (Green Bay market only)
Van Patrick (Detroit market only)

Paul Christman (national feed)
George Connor (Green Bay market only)
Bob Reynolds and Leon Hart (Detroit market only)

1957 CBS Joe Boland (national feed)
Ray Scott (Green Bay market only)
Van Patrick (Detroit market only)

Bob Kelley (national feed)
Johnny Lujack (Green Bay market only)
Bob Reynolds and Les Bingaman (Detroit market only)

1956 CBS Harry Wismer (national feed)
Ray Scott (Green Bay market only)
Van Patrick (Detroit market only)

Hunk Anderson (national feed)
Jerry Dunphy (Green Bay market only)
Bob Reynolds (Detroit market only)

1955 ABC Harry Wismer Budd Lynch
1954 DuMont Chris Schenkel
1953 DuMont (national broadcast) Byrum Saam


Notes



Dallas Cowboys hosted games

2000s

Year Network Play-by-play Color commentator(s) Sideline reporter(s)
2009 CBS Jim Nantz Phil Simms
2008 Fox Joe Buck Troy Aikman Pam Oliver
2007 CBS Jim Nantz Phil Simms
2006 Fox Joe Buck Troy Aikman Pam Oliver
2005 CBS Jim Nantz Phil Simms Bonnie Bernstein
2004 Fox Joe Buck Troy Aikman and Cris Collinsworth Pam Oliver
2003 CBS Greg Gumbel Phil Simms Armen Keteyian
2002 Fox Joe Buck Troy Aikman and Cris Collinsworth Pam Oliver
2001 CBS Greg Gumbel Phil Simms Armen Keteyian
2000 Fox Pat Summerall John Madden D. J. Johnson


1990s

Year Network Play-by-play Color commentator(s) Sideline reporter(s)
1999 CBS Greg Gumbel Phil Simms Armen Keteyian
1998 Fox Pat Summerall John Madden
1997 NBC Dick Enberg Paul Maguire and Phil Simms Jim Gray
1996 Fox Pat Summerall John Madden
1995 NBC Dick Enberg Paul Maguire and Phil Simms Jim Gray
1994 Fox Pat Summerall John Madden
1993 NBC Dick Enberg Bob Trumpy O. J. Simpson
1992 CBS Pat Summerall John Madden
1991 NBC Dick Enberg Bill Walsh
1990 CBS Pat Summerall John Madden


1980s

Year Network Play-by-play Color commentator(s) Sideline reporter(s)
1989 ("The Bounty Bowl") CBS Pat Summerall John Madden
1988 NBC Dick Enberg Merlin Olsen
1987 CBS Pat Summerall John Madden
1986 NBC Dick Enberg Merlin Olsen
1985 CBS Pat Summerall John Madden
1984 NBC Dick Enberg Merlin Olsen
1983 CBS Pat Summerall John Madden
1982 NBC Dick Enberg Merlin Olsen
1981 CBS Pat Summerall John Madden
1980 NBC Dick Enberg Merlin Olsen


Notes



1970s

Year Network Play-by-play Color commentator(s) Sideline reporter(s)
1979 NBC Dick Enberg Merlin Olsen
1978 CBS Pat Summerall Tom Brookshier Frank Glieber
1976 CBS Pat Summerall Tom Brookshier
1974 CBS Pat Summerall Tom Brookshier and Bart Starr Frank Glieber
1973 NBC Curt Gowdy Al DeRogatis
1972 CBS Ray Scott Pat Summerall Bruce Roberts
1971 CBS Ray Scott Pat Summerall Bruce Roberts
1970 CBS Frank Glieber Frank Gifford Bruce Roberts


1960s

Year Network Play-by-play Color commentator(s) Sideline reporter(s)
1969 CBS Jack Buck Pat Summerall Frank Glieber
1968 CBS Jack Buck Pat Summerall Frank Glieber
1967 CBS Jack Buck (first half) and Jack Drees (second half) Pat Summerall
1966 CBS Jack Buck (first half) and Frank Glieber (second half) Pat Summerall


Thursday night games

Since 2006, three contests have been played on Thanksgiving. In addition to the traditional Detroit and Dallas home afternoon games, a third game is now played in prime time and televised by NFL Network. The addition of the NFL Network game on Thanksgiving has AFC fans hoping that their conference will now have equal exposure, perhaps with an NFC-NFC, AFC-NFC, and an AFC-AFC game each Thanksgiving; in fact, the Kansas City Chiefs (after the Thanksgiving 2006 game) attempted to regain "regular" status with the night game (it was Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt who actively pushed for the night game to be established, and the league appeased him with the request).

2000s

Year Network Play-by-play Color commentator(s) Sideline reporter(s)
2009 NFL Network Bob Papa Matt Millen
2008 NFL Network Bob Papa Cris Collinsworth
2007 NFL Network Bryant Gumbel Cris Collinsworth Adam Schefter
2006 NFL Network Bryant Gumbel Cris Collinsworth Adam Schefter


Former hosts

St. Louis Cardinals hosted games

The Dallas Cowboys were replaced by the St. Louis Cardinals as a host team in and ; Dallas and St. Louis faced each other in Dallas in 1976. Because of the long-established KirkwoodmarkerWebster Grovesmarker high school football game that takes place on Thanksgiving in St. Louis, the Cardinals' hosting of the Thanksgiving game was not popular. Dallas returned to hosting the game in 1978 and has hosted ever since.

Year Network Play-by-play Color commentator(s) Sideline reporter(s)
1977 NBC Curt Gowdy John Brodie Lee Leonard
1975 NBC Curt Gowdy Al DeRogatis and Don Meredith


American Football League games

From 1960 through 1966, one AFL game was played every Thanksgiving. In 1967, 1968 and 1969, in the buffer period before the AFL-NFL merger, each Turkey Day had two AFL games. The team with the best record in AFL Thanksgiving Day games was the New York Titans, who played in the first three, and were 3-0. The Oakland Raiders were second best, with a 3-1 record.

Year Network Teams Play-by-play Color commentator(s) Sideline reporter(s)
1969 NBC Denver Broncos-Kansas City Chiefs
San Diego Chargers-Houston Oilers
Charlie Jones
Jim Simpson
Elmer Angsman
Al DeRogatis
1968 NBC Houston Oilers-Kansas City Chiefs
Buffalo Bills-Oakland Raiders
Curt Gowdy
Jim Simpson
Kyle Rote
Al DeRogatis
1967 NBC Oakland Raiders-Kansas City Chiefs
Denver Broncos-San Diego Chargers
Curt Gowdy
Charlie Jones
Paul Christman
George Ratterman
1966 NBC Buffalo Bills-Oakland Raiders Curt Gowdy Paul Christman
1965 NBC Buffalo Bills-San Diego Chargers Curt Gowdy Paul Christman
1964 ABC Buffalo Bills-San Diego Chargers Charlie Jones George Ratterman
1963 ABC Oakland Raiders-Denver Broncos Curt Gowdy Paul Christman
1962 ABC New York Titans-Denver Broncos Curt Gowdy Paul Christman
1961 ABC Buffalo Bills-New York Titans Jack Buck George Ratterman
1960 ABC Dallas Texans-New York Titans Jack Buck George Ratterman


References

  1. Cotsonika, Nicholas J. Lions will host Turkey Day game again in '09, but blackout policy will remain the same. Detroit Free Press. 31 January 2009.
  2. Kowalski, Tom. Lions president says NFL will not take away team's Thanksgiving Day game. mlive.com. 22 March 2009.
  3. Horn, Barry. Networks vie for Dallas Cowboys' home opener. 10 March 2009.
  4. King, Peter. Dr. Z is the best football writer of our time. Monday Morning Quarterback column, si.com. 1 December 2008.
  5. Kulfan, Ted. Annual Lions game is roasted. The Detroit News. 25 November 2008


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