| Detroit Free Press
A Detroit tradition: Lions on Thanksgiving
Looking back at some top performers for the Lions on Turkey Day. Video by Ryan Ford/DFP
The Detroit Lions will not have fans at Ford Field for their annual Thanksgiving game.
On Sunday, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced an extensive emergency order to bat down a spike in COVID-19 cases in Michigan over the next three weeks. And while the restrictions won’t prevent the Lions — or any of the state’s major college programs — from playing out the remainder of their 2020 season, it will prevent the Lions from hosting fans during their Nov. 26 Thanksgiving game against the Houston Texans.
According to Sunday’s emergency order, which goes into effect Wednesday: “Professional and college sports meeting extraordinary standards for risk mitigation may continue without spectators.”
The Lions already adhere to strict testing protocols under NFL guidelines, which require players to undergo daily COVID-19 testing on nongame days.
During their two home games this month, including Sunday against Washington, they have been allowed to host up to 500 friends and family members inside Ford Field.
But that will change when the Lions play at home on Thanksgiving after a trip to Carolina this upcoming Sunday.
“No attendance will mean no attendance,” Robert Gordon, director of the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services, said during a news conference Sunday.
The Lions did not immediately respond to a Free Press request for comment Sunday.
The Lions have four home games remaining: Nov. 26 vs. the Houston Texans on Thanksgiving; Dec. 13 vs. the Green Bay Packers; and in Weeks 16 and 17 vs. the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Minnesota Vikings, respectively.
At the college level, Michigan, Michigan State, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan and Western Michigan will not be able to host any fans over the next three weeks, after allowing a limited number of family members to attend games.
In compliance with Sunday’s order, Michigan football will not have fans for its Nov. 28 game against Penn State and Dec. 5 game against Maryland.
Michigan State will not have fans against Northwestern (Nov. 28) and Ohio State (Dec. 5).
The order also will prevent any attendance at the Western Michigan-Central Michigan game on Wednesday; the Central Michigan-Eastern Michigan game on Nov. 27; and the Eastern Michigan-Western Michigan game on Dec. 5, among other games.