Share on Pinterest

All-Time Thanksgiving Day NFL Lineup

Share on Pinterest
Sherman 300x300

Thanksgiving Football 560x390The NFL has been playing games on Thanksgiving day since 1920. They have been playing them consistently, every single year, since 1945 making it the longest running holiday tradition in professional football history. (No games were played between 1941-1944 due to World War II)

Eventually it evolved into a Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions showdown almost every single year. In fact, the first meeting between the two teams was in 1951 and started a streak of 13 consecutive seasons of head to head play. At one time, the NFL had two games from each league. It only lasted a few seasons before heading back to a more traditional two games on Thanksgiving Day.

As of 2006, the NFL has moved it to three games so you are enjoying turkey, friends, family, and football all day long. That is, unless you’re a Jacksonville Jaguars fan. They are the only active NFL team without making a Turkey day appearance.

To honor one of the best sports holidays, we have built a lineup of players that have played at least once on Thanksgiving Day since 1945. For this list we are not judging players strictly on their performances on Turkey day but we will include their statistics from the games they did star in.

Offense

QB: Tom Brady – New England Patriots

Brady 560x315

Thanksgiving Day Games: 3

There simply isn’t a better QB in the NFL that you would want running your offense than Tom Brady. He recently won his fourth Super Bowl ring and third Super Bowl MVP award. He has also given New England two more chances for Super Bowl glory but a couple of big plays changed the course of fate. Imagine if David Tyree does not make that amazing catch in the 4th quarter on 4th and forever. Tom Brady would have his 5th Super Bowl ring. He was that close.

  • Comp-Att (Pct): 57-84 (68%)
  • Passing Yards: 874
  • Passing TDs: 7
  • Rushing TDs: 1
  • Interceptions: 1

RB: Barry Sanders – Detroit Lions

barry sanders 560x315

Thanksgiving Day Games: 10

There are quite a few NFL players that have played long past when they should have retired. Barry Sanders is not one of them. In fact, the man retired four or five seasons too early. He was on his way to becoming the NFL’s best RB ever but he left the game and never looked back. He had a couple of great Thanksgiving Day performances where no one could stop him.

  • Rushing Yards: 931
  • Rushing TDs: 8
  • Yards per Game: 93.1
  • Yards per Carry: 4.43
  • Receptions: 13
  • Receiving Yards: 124
  • Receiving TDs: 2

RB: Walter Payton – Chicago Bears

walter payton 560x343

Thanksgiving Day Games: 4

While Barry Sanders is such an amazing talent, Walter Payton comes in a close second. Payton changed the way NFL teams ran the ball and he paved the way for players like Barry Sanders, Chris Johnson, and all the other quick, elusive backfield stars.

  • Rushing Yards: 493
  • Rushing TDs: 1
  • Yards per Game: 123.25
  • Yards per Carry: 5.24
  • Receptions: 8
  • Receiving Yards: 120
  • Receiving TDs: 1

TE: Tony Gonzalez – Kansas City Chiefs

tony gonzalez 560x408

Thanksgiving Day Games: 1

He only had one appearance on Thanksgiving and it was nothing to brag about but Tony Gonzalez is still one of the greatest Tight Ends ever to play football.

  • Receptions: 4
  • Receiving Yards: 35
  • Receiving TDs: 0

WR: Randy Moss – Minnesota Vikings

moss 560x377

Thanksgiving Day Games: 2

Randy Moss destroyed any and all NFL Thanksgiving Day game records in just two games. In his first Turkey Day showing, 1998, he caught 3 passes for 163 yards and scored a TD all three times. If that wasn’t good enough, when he returned for an encore in 2000, he caught 7 more for 144 yards and two scores.

  • Receptions: 10
  • Receiving Yards: 307
  • Receiving TDs: 5
  • Yards per Game: 153.5
  • Yards per Reception: 30.7

WR: Lance Alworth – Chargers, Cowboys

lance alworth 560x373

Thanksgiving Day Games: 5

  • Receptions: 21
  • Receiving Yards: 443
  • Receiving TDs: 3
  • Yards per Game:
  • Yards per Reception: 21.1

OT: Forrest Gregg – Packers, Cowboys

Forrest Gregg 560x315

Thanksgiving Day Games: 10

OT: Art Shell – Oakland Raiders

art 560x411

Thanksgiving Day Games: 2

OG: John Hannah – New England Patriots

John Hannah 560x411

Thanksgiving Day Games: 1

OG: Gene Upshaw – Oakland Raiders

gene upshaw 560x315

Thanksgiving Day Games: 3

C: Jim Otto – Oakland Raiders

Jim Otto 560x375

Thanksgiving Day Games: 5

Defense

DE: Reggie White – Eagles, Packers

white 560x381

Thanksgiving Day Games: 2

  • Sacks: 2

Career Stats

  • Tackles: 1,048
  • Sacks: 198
  • Fumble Recoveries: 20
  • Defensive TDs: 2
  • Super Bowls: 1 (1997)
  • Pro Bowls: 13
  • 1st Team All-Pro: 10

DT: Bob Lilly – Dallas Cowboys

bob 560x315

Thanksgiving Day Games: 9

Career Stats

  • Sacks: 94.5
  • Super Bowls: 1 (1972)
  • Pro Bowls: 11
  • 1st Team All-Pro: 7

DT: Alan Page – Vikings, Bears

Alan Page 560x374

Thanksgiving Day Games: 4

  • Interceptions: 1
  • Defensive TDs: 1

Career Stats

  • Super Bowls: 1 (1969)
  • MVP: 1 (1971)
  • NFL Defensive MVP: 1 (1971)
  • Pro-Bowls: 9
  • 1st Team All-Pro: 6

DE: Bruce Smith – Bills, Redskins

smith 560x374

Thanksgiving Day Games: 2

  • Sacks: 2

Career Stats

  • Sacks: 200
  • Interceptions: 2
  • Fumble Recoveries: 2
  • Defensive TDs: 1
  • Pro Bowls: 11
  • 1st Team All-Pro: 9
  • NFL Defensive MVPs: 2 (1990,1996)
  • NFL Record for Most Career Sacks

OLB: Lawrence Taylor – New York Giants

Lawrence Taylor 560x434

Thanksgiving Day Games: 2

Career Stats

  • Sacks: 132.5
  • Interceptions: 9
  • Defensive TDs: 2
  • Super Bowls: 2 (1987,1991)
  • MVP: 1 (1986)
  • Pro Bowls: 10
  • 1st Team All-Pro: 10

MLB: Ray Nitschke – Green Bay Packers

Ray Nitschke 560x411

Thanksgiving Day Games: 7

Career Stats

  • Interceptions: 25
  • Fumble Recoveries: 23
  • Defensive TDs: 2
  • Super Bowls: 2 (1967,1968)
  • 1st Team All-Pro: 3
  • Pro Bowl: 1

OLB: Bobby Bell – Kansas City Chiefs

bell 560x411

Thanksgiving Day Games: 4

Career Stats

  • Interceptions: 26
  • Defensive TDs: 8
  • Fumble Recoveries: 9
  • Super Bowls: 1 (1969)
  • 1st Team AFL All-Pro: 5
  • AFL All-Star Games: 6
  • NFL Pro Bowls: 3
  • 1st Team All-Pro: 1

CB: Night Train Lane – Detroit Lions

Night Train Lane  560x411

Thanksgiving Day Games: 6

Career Stats

  • Interceptions: 68
  • Fumble Recoveries: 11
  • Defensive TDs: 6
  • Pro Bowls: 7
  • 1st Team All-Pro: 6

CB: Deion Sanders – Dallas Cowboys

deion 560x434

Thanksgiving Day Games: 5

Although he was never dominant on Thanksgiving Day, Deion Sanders had a few memorable moments and that crazy 1999 game where he ended up with 2 of Dan Marino’s 5 interceptions. It was not only a good day for the Cowboys and Deion Sanders, it was one of the worst career games for Dan Marino.

  • Interceptions: 3

Career Stats

  • Interceptions: 53
  • Fumble Recoveries: 13
  • Forced Fumbles: 10
  • Defensive TDs: 10
  • Super Bowls: 2 (1995,1996)
  • NFL Defensive MVP: 1 (1994)
  • Pro Bowls: 8
  • 1st Team All-Pro: 8

FS: Rod Woodson – Pittsburgh Steelers

Rod Woodson 560x411

Thanksgiving Day Games: 1

Rod Woodson played for the Pittsburgh Steelers for most of his career. During the 10 years he spent there, he picked off 38 passes which was the fourth most in Steelers history.

  • Sacks: 1

Career Stats

  • Sacks: 13.5
  • Interceptions: 71
  • Defensive TDs: 13
  • Super Bowls: 1 (2001)
  • NFL Defensive MVP: 1 (1993)
  • Pro Bowls: 11
  • 1st Team All-Pro: 6

SS: Ken Houston – Oilers, Redskins

houston 560x433

Thanksgiving Day Games: 5

Career Stats

  • Interceptions: 49
  • Forced Fumbles: 10
  • Fumble Recoveries: 21
  • Defensive TDs: 10
  • Pro Bowls: 12
Share on Pinterest
Sherman 300x300