The year was 2003. Steve Bartman had just become a household name after his role in the Cubs collapse against the Marlins in the NLCS. Oklahoma quarterback Jason White was in the midst of his Heisman Trophy-winning season. And Jon Gruden and the Buccaneers were the defending Super Bowl champions.
For football fans from a certain state, it feels like a long time ago.
That was the last year the Michigan Wolverines won their rivalry game with Ohio State AND the last year the Detroit Lions won on Thanksgiving Day. On Nov. 22, 2003, Michigan beat Ohio State 35-21 for its only win over Jim Tressel and one of only two wins over the Buckeyes in the 21st century.
Thanks for Nothing
"Thanksgiving Games", Since 2004
Just five days later on Thanksgiving Day, second-year quarterback Joey Harrington led the Lions to victory over the Packers 22-14 at Ford Field. This was five years BEFORE the franchise became the first in NFL history to go winless in a 16-game regular season.
The Thanksgiving season has been rough for Michiganders between Ann Arbor and Detroit since 2004. The Lions have lost seven straight Thanksgiving Day games, while the Wolverines have lost seven straight in their annual rivalry game with Ohio State (the Saturday BEFORE Thanksgiving until 2010).
The results in games surrounding Turkey Day have been nearly identical.
The seven-game losing streak for the Lions on Thanksgiving is the longest in franchise history and just one shy of the longest in NFL history. The seven-game losing streak for Michigan to Ohio State is the longest for the Wolverines in the history of the rivalry and the second-longest for Michigan against any opponent in the history of the football program.
So consider it fair warning for Thanksgiving 2011: If you happen to be traveling to Michigan to see your family, you may run into some angry football fans along the way.