Meaning of Thanksgiving

Though there still remains some level of controversy surrounding the actual history and reasons of what we know today as Thanksgiving it is very likely that it can be traced back to England and the Puritans.  In England in the 1500’s there were special holidays called for by the Puritans as a reaction to certain events.  For example, in times of drought or other hardships a period of fasting (Days of Fasting) would be announced and in other times, like a good harvest season, would prompt Days of Thanksgiving.  Of course, as settlers came to the newly colonized North American continent they brought with them such traditions as Thanksgiving.  The most popular idea of the first Thanksgiving was that it was held in Plymouth between the pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians in the fall of 1621 to celebrate the bountiful harvest.  The fare most likely consisted of not only turkey but geese and ducks as well as venison, fish and stews brought by the Indians.  Of course, pumpkin pie (or a variation of it) may have been present as it is a common symbol of harvest time.  Though Thanksgiving may have begun in the 1620’s it didn’t really become a regular occurrence until the 1660’s and the date for which was not officially proclaimed until the 1940’s.

The First Thanksgiving Holiday

The First Thanksgiving Celebration

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The buckin’ Broncos come out of the gate!

Joining the AFL in 1960 the Denver Broncos became an official pro football team when Bob Howsam was granted the franchise.  The team’s name was contrived through a naming contest via the people of Denver in 1960.  For most of its time in football the Broncos have played at Mile High stadium.   The stadium is aptly named as it is indeed exactly 1 mile above sea level.  Interestingly, they have the best home game record in the last 30 years and have never been shut out at home after 400 games.  In addition, the fans are particularly dedicated as every home game has been sold out since 1970.  The Broncos have the distinction of being the first AFL team to ever beat an NFL team.  In total they have been to 6 Super Bowls and have been the victor in 2 of them.  The Broncos got their start in Denver and have never left in over 50 years.

Denver Broncos Logo

Denver Broncos Logo

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The Bengals begin

As with a lot of teams in the NFL, the Cincinnati Bengals began in the AFL.  It was 1966 when the Bengals got their start.  Interestingly, it was former Brown’s head coach, Paul Brown, that vied for and received the franchise.  Paul Brown had led the Browns to many victories during his time with Cleveland so he probably felt slighted by being released from  a team he built from the ground up (not to mention the Browns were named after him).  As a result of being released from the Browns, Paul developed an interest in initiating a pro football franchise in Ohio.  He would name this new team the Bengals as a tribute to the Bengals that played in Cincinnati from 1937 to 1942.  Not surprisingly, he chose orange and black as the team’s colors however it just so happened that the shade of orange chosen was the exact same as that used by the Browns.  Because the Bengals found themselves in the same division as the Browns after the 1970 AFL-NFL merger the two teams became instant rivals.  The Bengals also have a professional cheerleading squad known as the Ben-Gals.

Cincinnati Bengals Logo

Cincinnati Bengals logo

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The Cleveland Browns get their start

Arthur McBride owned a taxi cab company but his real interest was in football.   In 1944 he was able to secure a pro football team franchise in Cleveland through the AAFC.  Additionally, he was able to talk the then successful Paul Brown of the Ohio State Buckeyes to come on board.  Much to the dismay of many Buckeyes he agreed to help the fledgling team make its start.  Even though the naming of the team was up to the general manager (also Paul Brown) he decided against suggestions to name the team the “Browns” so the people of Cleveland were polled.  The name that was chosen was the Panthers.  This particular name caused some problems because another business man had previously attempted to start a football  franchise in the area under the same name.  McBride was only able to use the Panthers name if he paid the owner of the name a handsome sum so he elected to simply call the team the “Browns”.    The 40’s were exceptionally good for the Browns and they saw many AAFC championships and recorded record fan attendance.  In 1948, the Browns even managed to go unbeaten and untied in every single game they played.   Interestingly, they beat their opponents so soundly that attendance began to falter as fans grew weary of watching their team beat others predictably.  One of Cleveland’s closest neighbors, Pittsburgh, is also one of its oldest rivals –the Pittsburgh Steelers and that rivalry remains just as fierce today.

cleveland browns logo

Cleveland Browns logo

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The Buffalo Teds? No, the Buffalo Bills!

In the early 1900’s there were several attempts to start a pro football team in the Buffalo area.  There were the Buffalo Niagaras,  the Buffalo All-Americans, the Buffalo Indians and the Buffalo Bisons.  In the 1950’s there was a team called the Buffalo Bills however they were subsequently merged with the Cleveland Browns and it wasn’t until the 1960 that the Bills we know today began playing in the AFL.  As it turns out the current Bills are name after the AAFC Bills but the AAFC team was apparently named after a well-known barbershop quartet from the area.   There are some that speculate that the Bills were named for the male bison which is called a “billy” however there is more evidence to support the barbershop quartet theory.  In 1970 the AFL merged with the NFL and 20 years after that the Bills would go on to compete in four Super Bowls in a row –a distinction held by no other teams in the NFL.  They have had the same owner, Ralph Wilson, since their inception and at 94 he is the oldest owner in the NFL.  Their cheerleaders are known, appropriately, as the Buffalo Jills.

Buffalo Bills Logo

Buffalo Bills Logo

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The New England Patriots are born

The year was 1959 and Billy Sullivan, a Boston business man, was awarded a franchise for an AFL football team.  Billy Sullivan was actually a sports writer after college and was heavily involved in sports his whole life so a football franchise was a logical next step.  As did the Pittsburgh Steelers, he decided to put the naming of the team up to the people.  The people of Boston submitted many names but the one that seemed to make the most sense was the Boston Patriots.  The fledgling team didn’t make a decent show until the 1963 AFL championships however they lost to the Chargers.  In 1971 the Patriots moved to their new stadium in Foxboro and decided to change their name to the Bay State Patriots.  The name was over-ruled and ultimately it was decided to go with the name New England Patriots.  Since their shaky start the Patriots have gone on to have one of the most successful records in NFL history.  In Super Bowl 39 they became the 2nd team in NFL history to win 3 Super Bowls in a four year stretch and hold the record for the longest winning streak at 21 games.  Click here for Pats posters.

Click for Pats gear

Click for Pats gear

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Green Bay “packs” in the history

Earl “Curly” Lambeau played football in high school and later worked as a shipping clerk for a company called the Indian Packing Company.  Together with another high school football player, George Calhoun,they solicited the packing company to give them funds to start a football team.  The year was 1919 and they indeed secured $500 dollars for uniforms and such on the condition that they use the company’s name for the football team.  So the Green Bay Packers were born in August of that year.  In 1921 they were granted a franchise in the fledgling NFL.  Today the fans are commonly known as “chesseheads” due to Wisconsin’s cheese production and their notorious cheese-shaped hats worn at games.  The fans are so dedicated in fact that every game at Lambeau field has been sold out since 1960.  To date, the Packers have won 13 League Championships to include 4 Super Bowl titles.  They the only non-profit, community-owned professional sports franchise in the United States.  Additionally, they lay claim to having the oldest team name in the NFL that is still in use.  For Packers gear click here.

Green Bay Packers logo

Green Bay Packers logo

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Washington Redskins get their start

The Redskins as most people know them weren’t always as we’ve known them.  They began in 1932 as the Boston Braves.  After moving their home field play to Fenway they then took the name Boston Redskins which stuck until 1936.  Apparently the coach at the time was part American Indian so the team was named in his honor.  Finally, in 1937 owner George Marshall moved the team to Washington and took the name Washington Redskins.  This team also has some notable history associated with it.  They were the first team to have an entire season televised (1950).  They were also the last team to racially integrate.  As it turns out, the field they were playing on was owned by the U.S. Dept. of the Interior making it federal property so Marshall was looking at a possible civil rights lawsuit if he didn’t allow black players on the team.   Though this team initially produced some good season records they do hold the record for largest point differential when they lost to the Bears 73-0 in 1940.  Despite some of those early disappointments the Redskins have gone on to have 5 Super Bowl appearances and 3 Super Bowl titles.  They are also the 2ndmost valuable American sports franchise.  For Skins gear click here.

Washington Redskins Logo

Washington Redskins Logo

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Cowboy up! Dallas gets a football team.

The year was 1960 when the Dallas Cowboys were born.  It was supposed to be a simple process of applying for and getting an expansion team since there were no NFL teams south of Washington, DC at the time.  It turned out not to be as simple as that.  Clint Murchison, who made his money in Texas oil, wanted an NFL team in Dallas and tried to buy, from George Marshall, the Washington Redskins.  The deal was in the final minutes when Marshall wanted some changes made causing the deal to be abandoned.  This created bad blood between Murchison and Marshall and prompted Marshall to deny an expansion team in Dallas by not voting for one.  As it turns out, Marshall also rubbed Redskins bandleader Barnee Breeskin the wrong way.  Normally a falling out of this nature would not mean much except that Breeskin wrote and owned the Redskins fight song played at every game.  To get back at Marshall, Breeskin sold the rights to the song to Murchison for $2,500.  Murchison then used the song as a trade with Marshall for his vote to allow an expansion team (previously his was the only vote against).  This trade allowed the Dallas Cowboys to officially commence  in 1960.  The Cowboys would go on to share the record for the most Super Bowl appearances (tied with the Steelers).  Interestingly, the Cowboys are now the wealthiest team in the NFL while the Redskins are second wealthiest.  The Cowboys are also the second most valuable sports franchise in the world (Manchester United being first).  For Cowboys gear, click here.Dallas Cowboys Logo Premiere T-Shirt – Large

Dallas Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys Logo

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Pittsburgh Steelers: A storied past

Pittsburgh Steelers

Pittsburgh Steelers Logo

Certainly one of the oldest and winningest teams in NFL history the Pittsburgh Steelers had a pretty rough start.  In 1933 Art Rooney, a talented athlete (and future talented businessman) was granted an NFL franchise for the team that would become the Steelers, the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The early years were tough for the Pirates as they posted many losses and few winning records.  It wasn’t until their second game of their first season that their very first touchdown was scored.  The touchdown resulted from an interception and the ball was run for 99 yards which would stand as a record for an interception until the 2009 Superbowl.  Fortunately, Rooney was an avid and successful horse race gambler which helped keep the team afloat financially during their rough beginnings.

In early 1940 Rooney decided to change the name and initiated a naming contest amongst the fans.  Many names were suggested and the name “Steelers” was chosen due to Pittsburgh’s prominence as a steel producing city.  However, due to a 24-62-5 all time record Rooney decided to sell the Steelers to someone else in December of 1940.  He then immediately bought 50% of the Philadelphia Eagles.  He then came to regret this decision and pulled what was called the Pennsylvania Polka.  The new Steelers owner renamed his team Iron Men and Rooney convinced him to move his team to Philadelphia while Rooney would move the Eagles to Pittsburgh and then change the Eagles name to the Steelers.  Subsequently, the owner of the Iron Men then changed his team’s name to the Eagles.

The Steelers logo didn’t come into existence until 1962 and was based on the Steelmark used by the AISI.  The teams colors have always been black and gold and are based on Pittsburgh’s city flag of the same colors.  With the exception of the Pennsylvania Polka the Rooney family has had a controlling interest in the Steelers since their inception in 1933.

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