Columnists, Sports

TUESDAY’S TAKE: Turkey day pigskin

Turkey day football.

It’s almost as old a tradition as Thanksgiving itself.

Thanksgiving and football just go so well together.

Like peanut butter and jelly.

Or vodka and Red Bull.

Or turkey and stuffing.

Football games on Thanksgiving date back to before professional football was even formed.

Whether it’s a high school rivalry, a college tradition, a family exhibition match or NFL football, any pigskin game on Thanksgiving is a classic.

As much as the day is built around family, food and giving thanks, it is equally built around football.

Scanning my DirecTV listings, there are options for the football fan on TV from 10 in the morning until midnight ranging from local games, to college games, to pro games.

There are plenty of options on TV, but what if you want to hit the gridiron yourself?

In my younger, more athletic (read: before beer) days, my friends and I would often play pickup games at a local park. We’d pick teams and play all day, or until everybody had to go for dinner. We’d usually play until it was impossible.

The days when it snowed were the best.

It’s a bit harder as you get older to get the crew together to play so, another, potentially hilarious option for many families is the backyard Thanksgiving Day “Classic.” What’s really classic about it? I think we’re using the wrong word there. Thanksgiving Day Debacle? Yes. Nothing works up an appetite or tension, like a game of touch or tackle football out in the backyard.

If you aren’t the football type, at least take this opportunity to try to silence those obnoxious relatives with an accidental chop to the throat while enthusiastically signaling first down.

So say you aren’t the playing type, and you want to watch a game in person, but not pay $85 to do so, what do you do? There are some great, free local high school games in pretty much every town.

One of the best games in Boston is the Boston College High School and Catholic Memorial Thanksgiving game which has been held for more than 50 years. The game decides the Catholic Conference championship and is usually a pretty intense matchup. Since 2005, BC High has beaten the CM Knights in every Thanksgiving Day game.

BC High is ranked better than CM this year, but anything can happen.

Last year, CM tasted defeat in what looked like a lock of a championship season. They play at 10 a.m. on Thursday.

I think it’s worth noting that BU Academy could field a heck of a team. They are undefeated in Thanksgiving Day play.

If you’re like me though, you might be staking out the perfect spot on your couch. The one with the best eye line to the TV, easy access to the fridge for beers, a convenient route to the bathroom and isolated enough that you don’t have anybody sitting next to you with useless conversation. That’s the spot.

I’ll be locked in, with my fantasy football app open, to all the games that day. And you should be too. It’s the one day of the year (besides Sundays between September and January) where it is socially acceptable to pass out on the couch watching football because “Oh, there’s tryptophan in the turkey and that makes you sleepy.” I hate when people say that. Because everybody pulls it out around Thanksgiving like it’s new, acquired knowledge. Cut it out. I’m asleep because I’m stuffed, drunk, and this Cowboys-Lions game sucks.

So join the Thanksgiving and American tradition this year. Whether you’re actually playing in a game, just watching from the sideline, or snoozing on the couch watching the NFL at home, I hope this Thanksgiving is “classic.”


Mike Neff is a weekly columnist for the sports section. He can be reached via email at [email protected] or via Twitter at @mneff2.

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