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NFL May Rotate Thanksgiving Game

March 2, 1999

PONTIAC, Mich. (AP) _ The Detroit Lions again are defending their 64-year-old tradition of playing host to Thanksgiving Day football.

Vice Chairman William Clay Ford Jr. said he learned Monday that NFL owners will discuss the possibility of rotating the two Thanksgiving Day games among all 31 teams, rather than just Detroit and the Dallas Cowboys.

The switch, which would be effective with the 2000 season, is on the owners’ agenda for their meetings March 14-18 in Phoenix. And they can expect an all-out fight against it from the Lions, said Ford.

``I would never give up without a good fight, and I think I’ve got some pretty good ammo on my side,″ Ford told the Detroit Free Press for Tuesday’s editions. ``We’ve got some pretty powerful people here in Michigan, and I’m going to leave no stone unturned. I’m going to have a scorched-earth policy.″

The proposal to rotate the Thanksgiving games including Dallas’ _ itself a tradition since 1966 _ is backed by owners Lamar Hunt of the Kansas City Chiefs and Tom Benson of the New Orleans Saints. It would need support by 24 of the 31 owners to pass.

A similar proposal by Hunt was shot down in 1995 after Ford enlisted the support of his family’s own Ford Motor Co. and the other two Big Three automakers, who are major NFL advertisers.

Ford hinted Monday that the automakers might be part of another defense of the Lions’ Thanksgiving game.

``I think you’ll see some interesting forces marshaled here,″ he told the Detroit News.

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