What to Know About This Year’s Thanksgiving Day N.F.L. Games
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As the league expands its footprint across the television landscape, it has begun stealing holidays that have been the domain of other sports. The N.B.A., which typically sees Christmas Day as a marquee day of programming, will compete for sports fans’ attention this year when there will be an unprecedented three professional football games aired. College football fans accustomed to channel surfing between bowl games on New Year’s Day will instead see a full slate of Week 17 games. (The Rose and Cotton Bowls will be played on Jan. 2.)
The season’s one holiday safe from viewing disruption is Thanksgiving — because the N.F.L. already owns screens on that day. That’s in large part because of John Madden, the Hall of Fame coach and broadcaster who called 20 Thanksgiving Day games and in 1989 started the tradition of handing a turkey leg to the star of the contest he called.
This year, the N.F.L. and its broadcast partners will honor Madden, who died in December at 85, by airing a recording of him discussing the holiday ahead of each game. Players will wear a uniform patch commemorating Madden.