Playing on Thanksgiving is nothing new for the Chicago Bears, who have done it 36 times — finishing third in the NFL. Known as the Decatur for its first two Thanksgiving games and then as the Chicago Staleys, the team competed on the annual November holiday for 19 consecutive years from 1920–38. The venue that has hosted the most beers on Thanksgiving — 11 times — is Wrigley Field.
As the Bears travel to Michigan for their 19th Thanksgiving Day game against the Detroit Lions, here’s a look at the team’s record on vacation from the past century.
Memorable Thanksgiving Game Moments for the Bears
- November 26, 1925: The Bears and Chicago Cardinals play before 36,000 people to a scoreless tie at Wrigley Field – then the largest crowd in professional football history. It is also the first professional football game for Red Grange, whose signing from the University of Illinois a few days earlier is credited with helping legitimize the NFL. The teams face each other on Thanksgiving in 1926 – the game results in another scoreless tie.
- November 29, 1934: The defending champion Bears defeated the Lions 19–16 in the first nationally broadcast NFL game on NBC Radio.
- November 27, 1980: Dave Williams’ 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown — on the first play of overtime — gives the Bears a 23-17 Thanksgiving Day win over Detroit.
Sources: Tribune Reporting and Archives; NFL; Pro Football Reference; Pro Football Hall of Fame; sports news; american football database