First NFL Christmas games

First NFL Christmas games

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35 Hall of Famers took part in first Christmas Day games in 1971.

While the tradition of football on Thanksgiving has become a part of our culture, playing NFL games on Christmas Day is relatively rare.

The first time that a pro football game was played on Christmas came in 1971 with a pair of playoff games slated for the holiday.  As many members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame will recall, they spent their Christmas that year competing in one of the two divisional playoff games scheduled that day.

Cowboys vs. Vikings

The NFC divisional playoff featured the Dallas Cowboys and Minnesota Vikings played at Metropolitan Stadium. A combined 18 Hall of Fame members were part of this history-making game. Led by a pair of Hall of Fame coaches – Bud Grant and Tom Landry – and two front office personnel who’ve earned election to the Hall – Tex Schramm and Jim Finks, the game also included 14 Hall of Fame players.  

The Cowboys players were Herb Adderley, Lance Alworth, Mike Ditka, Forrest Gregg, Bob Hayes, Cliff Harris, Bob Lilly, Mel Renfro, Roger Staubach and Rayfield Wright. 

The Vikings players were led by Carl Eller, Paul Krause, Alan Page and Ron Yary.

Chiefs vs. Dolphins

17 members of the Hall of Fame were part of the famous AFC playoff game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Miami Dolphins. The double-overtime game remains the longest game ever played in NFL history. 

The Chiefs Hall of Famers involved in the game were owner Lamar Hunt and coach Hank Stram and eight players – Bobby Bell, Buck Buchanan, Curley Culp, Len Dawson, Willie Lanier, Johnny Robinson, Jan Stenerud and Emmitt Thomas. 

The Dolphins were led by coach Don Shula and six players – Nick Buoniconti, Larry Csonka, Bob Griese, Jim Langer, Larry Little, and Paul Warfield.

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