11/27/14 by Matthew S. Vandriak
I don't know what it is, but there is just something special about football on Thanksgiving Day. I'm not sure when or why this combination was created, but I'm certainly glad that it was.
As far as I can think back, football on Thanksgiving has been a part of me. I remember being a kid and waking up to watch the Macy's Parade with my brother. But both of us couldn't wait until noon, when it was time for the annual Detroit Lions game on Thanksgiving. It didn't matter who they were playing, or the fact that the Lions were a really bad football team during my childhood years in the 1980's, we couldn't wait to watch football. And even though we're both die-hard Pittsburgh Steelers fans, the same excitement was there for the Dallas Cowboys in the second game on Turkey Day. It didn't matter who was playing, it was Thanksgiving football, and we loved it.
As I got into high school, the excitement for football was less for what was on television, and more for what was going to be played at one of the local fields. At age 15, I was introduced to my first "Turkey Bowl". Well in my hometown, the game we played in was actually called the Toilet Bowl and we played for a gold painted toilet seat. Sure, we played football on the weekends regularly, but there's just something about playing on Thanksgiving that made it better. For whatever reason, whether it was the golden toilet seat or just being able to brag that your team won on Turkey Day, playing football on Thanksgiving morning was something special. Even into my 30's, I still played flag football on Thanksgiving. I don't know why getting up early (which was a lot tougher once I started to partake in the big night of partying Thanksgiving Eve is), playing often in the cold of a Pennsylvania November, and being sore the rest of the day (or the entire weekend in your 30's), but it was worth it because it was football on Thanksgiving. And I know that feeling is shared by those who will be playing in the thousands of Turkey Bowls that will be going on across the country this year.
A few years ago I came up with the "3 F's" of Thanksgiving...Food, Football, and Family. And I think that's the real combination that makes it special. The smell of the turkey and all of the fixings that Mom is preparing in the kitchen while watching the early game is something I still look forward to. Of course it smells so good that you feel like you're starving by the time dinner is served right around the start of the second game. And of course after eating, a nap at half time of that second game is a tradition that thousands of others partake in as well.
I think it's just being in the company of family and friends while watching the Thanksgiving games that make it special now. But looking back, that was really what made it special all along. So wherever you are this year, I hope you have some of the same great Thanksgiving football memories that I do. And I hope that you enjoy the "3 F's". But most of all, I hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving.
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