It has been rumored for some time now, but the City of Detroit must acknowledge the reality that the Thanksgiving Classic is under siege from the NFL.
In a league where great traditions have been altered and tweaked for greater revenue, there is no doubting that the league will take a look into Detroit’s responsibilities following the team’s most recent drubbing at the hands of the Packers. While the team has hosted this game now 70 times, I suspect that the league will look to expand the Lions game into more cities.
If you don’t believe that this game is up in the air for the NFL, I would like to exhibit the case of the Kansas City Chiefs. Owner Lamar Hunt (deceased) had lobbied for years that there should be an all AFC match-up in the evening, and happened to secure one in 2006 for his Chiefs. Following his death three weeks after Thanksgiving, the league then reopened the game, selecting various teams in the AFC and NFC to participate. It was not until last night that the AFC had a host for the Thanksgiving game.
My feeling is that the league will keep the Lions involved in the Thanksgiving game in some type of hybrid situation. This could mean Detroit plays every year with home games on the even years. It could also mean that Detroit and Dallas become annual opponents, alternating each year between Cowboys Stadium and Ford Field.
Every owner looks at this game and just drools over the idea of a filled stadium with a nationally-captivated audience. Sure, the Lions’ recent flops on Thanksgiving have not been a great help to the Detroit cause, but this game is purely economical for the other 30 owners in the NFL. Those would seem to not be favorable odds for Lions fans.