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Thanksgiving & the Redskins? No Thanks

Since Ron Rivera has been hired - the term "Happy Thanksgiving" has been an inside bit. When the Redskins play on Thanksgiving, it's far from a happy day for everyone.

The Washington Redskins and the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day. As American as apple pie, right? 

Or maybe pumpkin pie?

Happy Thanksgiving as Dan Snyder likes to say! 

Even Ron Rivera likes to say it. 

The NFL loves a good rivalry. An old fashioned blood war between two longtime foes that are on equal footing. 

Only the NFL hasn't figured out what the rest of us already know. 

The Cowboys and Redskins are not and have not been a great rivalry for a long time. 

Sorry. That's the truth. 

The Cowboys are a perennial disappointment despite the ridiculous love and praise that "America's Team" gets. 

If the Cowboys are a disappointment - the Redskins have been an embarrassment. 

Yet the National Football League continues to shove Redskins-Cowboys at 4:30 ET on Thanksgiving Day down our throats like a giant over-sized turkey leg. 

Perhaps Cowboys fans are thankful for the opportunity to carve up the Skins. Many Redskins fans enjoy the spectacle as well. 

Here we are again.  Thursday November 26th, 2020. Round TEN! 

That's right - this will be the tenth time the two organizations will clash on Thanksgiving Day and the Redskins have won once. 

How do I know? I was there. Robert Griffin III dazzled America with a first-half performance for the ages as I hovered above AT&T Stadium in the visiting broadcast suite. 

To be a part of that was very cool. Those moments tend to happen once in a lifetime and that day was no different. 

Since then, the Redskins have played the Cowboys two more times on Thanksgiving (both losses) and also beat the New York Giants, 20-10, at FedExField in 2017 to cap off a holiday triple-header.

This will be the fifth time since 2012 that the Redskins have been featured on America's favorite holiday. 

That's way, way too much. 

The Cowboys and Lions play every year at home on Thanksgiving regardless. That's tradition. 

There's no need for the Redskins to be a part of that tradition in a forced, awkward way. 

The NFL rotates AFC and NFC opponents every year for the Cowboys. Meaning in odd years, a random AFC team visits Jerry's palace. 

In even years, it's an NFC opponent. The last time I checked there's 15 possible choices and the NFL can't find anyone other than the Redskins? 

That's absurd. 

Three chances in a row to do something different and it just happened to fall on the Redskins? Is this like that show "Press Your Luck" with the digital board and the contestant saying "No whammies, no whammies" before going bust? 

The Thanksgiving Day spectacle in Dallas is by far the most-watched of the three games on the holiday. 

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No offense but nobody really cares about the Lions. By 8:30 at night, most Americans are in a complete tryptophan coma from eating so much turkey and stuffing, they can't stay awake. 

Here's the deal: I strongly believe that the Washington Redskins organization desperately wants to play on Thanksgiving for marketing and business purposes.

They view themselves as a powerful global brand. They also realize getting their uniforms, shield and helmets in front of 30-plus million or so Americans along with any international audience is an opportunity they cannot pass up, if the NFL is willing to give it to them. 

The NFL would never admit this publicly but I strongly believe this is a gift to the Redskins and Dan Snyder. 

They are a struggling franchise for a quarter century and have lost a lot of their fan base over the years. 

The best way to find new fans? Play in front of a massive television audience that is roughly double what most "prime-time" games provide. 

Especially when you completely stink on "Monday Night Football" and you're not exactly good on Thursday nights either. The Redskins have been better on "Sunday Night Football" than any other window, but they're usually not good enough to be flexed in or chosen for that prestigious stage. 

I know how Dan Snyder thinks. I worked for him for five years. I know how the Redskins organization operates. I lived in their facility for five brutally long seasons. 

You think it's just random circumstances that has led to the Washington Redskins playing five times on Thanksgiving Day in nine seasons when the 2020 campaign is completed? 

It's not. 

I don't feel bad for the players. They are exorbitantly paid to do their jobs. I feel bad for coaches because their job is never, ever done. 

I also feel for the marketing, public relations and support staff personnel that has to constantly be away from their families from Wednesday afternoon through very early Friday morning of Thanksgiving weekend.

The entire day. Lost. 

Even if you don't have to travel for the game, it's not just a three-hour investment for media. It might be for fans, but it's not for everyone. 

A typical Redskins game day for media starts at least four hours before a game and ends a minimum of four hours after a game. If you're scoring at home (quarantine style), that's at least a 12-hour grind. Minimum. 

That's not fun when everyone is feasting. 

You can dismiss that all you want as "that's your job" and "too bad" but if I said to you - I'm going to ruin your Thanksgiving every other year and sometimes more -- along with other holidays that have been marred by the Redskins schedule and dysfunction -- would you be completely on-board? 

The answer is no. Don't even try to lie. 

I could run the list down for you but a few lowlights are:

Christmas Day 2009 - Albert Haynesworth gets thrown out of practice. 

Easter Sunday 2010 - Donovan McNabb was acquired via trade from the Eagles.

Christmas Day 2010 - Travel to Jacksonville via the Redskins charter for a game the next day resulted in leaving home at Noon. 

Thanksgiving Day 2015 - Chris Culliver, the Redskins top free-agent addition blows out his knee in practice. 

This is just a partial list in addition to the four Thanksgiving games already played.

It may seem like whining but I'm a Dad first. My kids live six hours away. I want to spend time with them. Not with the Redskins. Sorry. That's the stone-cold truth. 

I couldn't write this without explaining why I have such a level of frustration about this

The Redskins will probably be very competitive in the contest. It probably will be a good game for the national audience. Probably. 

However, the NFL can do us all a favor in 2021 or 2022. There's 29 other teams in the entire league. Let's stop doing favors for influential owners. Let's have some balance and variety. 

Happy Thanksgiving! 

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Chris Russell is the Publisher of & Sports Illustrated's Washington Redskins channel. He can be heard on 106.7 The FAN in the Washington D.C. area and world-wide on Chris also hosts the "Locked on Redskins" Podcast and can be read via subscription to Warpath Magazine. You can e-mail Chris at or follow him on Twitter at @Russellmania621.