Playing on Thanksgiving is nothing new for the Chicago Bears, who have done it 36 times — tied for the third most in the NFL. Known as the Decatur and then Chicago Staleys for its first two Thanksgiving games, the team competed on the November holiday annually for 19 consecutive years from 1920-38. The venue that has hosted the Bears most on Thanksgiving — 11 times — is Wrigley Field.
As the Bears travel to Michigan for its 19th Thanksgiving Day game against the Detroit Lions, here’s a look back at the team’s record on the holiday from the past century.
Memorable Thanksgiving game moments for the Bears
- Nov. 26, 1925: The Bears and Chicago Cardinals play to a scoreless tie at Wrigley Field before 36,000 people — then the largest crowd in professional football history. It’s also the first professional football game for Red Grange, whose signing from the University of Illinois days earlier is credited with helping legitimize the NFL. The teams face each other on Thanksgiving in 1926 — with the game resulting in another scoreless tie.
- Nov. 29, 1934: The defending champion Bears defeat the Lions 19-16 in the first nationally broadcast NFL game on NBC radio.
- Nov. 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; Sporting News; American Football Database