10 Historical Untruths About the First Thanksgiving

After the Feast, They Played Football
For many, John Madden will always be synonymous with Thanksgiving football. Scott Halleran/Getty Images

The American patriot that many people most identify with Thanksgiving Day activities is neither Pilgrim, Native American, nor president. He's a football commentator named John Madden.

Narrating one of two annual NFL football games held every Turkey Day throughout the '90s -- and spending much of each broadcast discussing the size, shape and succulence of the game day bird, as well as popularizing the chicken-within-a-duck-within-a-turkey dish known simply as "turducken" -- Madden became synonymous with Thanksgiving football for scores of fans. He also was famous for handing out turkey legs to the game's MVPs [source: Perman].

Of course, there was no Madden, no NFL and no TV when the English settlers and Wampanoags broke bread back in 1621. They didn't even throw the pigskin around in the backyard. (American football had not been invented yet.) Instead these early revelers did something even more American: They shot guns. "Among other recreations, we exercised our arms," Edward Winslow later recollected [source: Armstrong]. And he did not mean his biceps.