Turkey Day Football Trash Talk

Here it is already, Thanksgiving. This will likely be my only shot to tell you folks thank you, and so I do. Each and every one of you who have the passion, and take the time out of your lives to spend some of it here at Emptywheel.

Thank you.

Football on Thanksgiving is a tradition going back further than even pro football:

Football games, being played on Thanksgiving Day, date back to 1876. When Yale and Princeton began an annual tradition of playing each other on Thanksgiving Day. The University of Michigan also made it a tradition to play annual Thanksgiving games, holding 19 such games from 1885 to 1905. The Thanksgiving Day games between Michigan and the Chicago Maroons in the 1890s have been cited as “The Beginning of Thanksgiving Day Football.

But the tradition with the Detroit Lions started in 1934 when a chap by the name of George A. Richards bought the Portsmouth, Ohio football team known as the Lions and moved them to Detroit to join the still fledgling NFL:

As a marketing ploy to drum up attendance at the new team’s games, then Lions’ owner, George A. Richards, arranged for the team to host the Chicago Bears in the University of Detroit Stadium on Thanksgiving Day. Richards also arranged for the game to be televised nationally via NBC.

In spite of the fact the Lions lost that first Thanksgiving-Day game to the Bears, the holiday game was such a success that Detroit continues to host it to this day; the Thanksgiving Day game in 2012 will mark the Lions’ 73rd. For the first five years, the Chicago Bears provided the competition to the Lions on Turkey Day. In the 1950s and 60s, Green Bay was the team that gave the Lions their holiday match. Over the years, however, the Lions have played most of the teams in the league on one Thanksgiving Day or another.

And this year the triple header of NFL Thanksgiving games starts out with the original, the home game in Detroit. Today the Kittehs host the mighty Houston Texans. The Texans come in 9-1 and still appear to be the leagues most consistently solid team. So far the injury bug that decimated them in prior years has stayed away. Last week the Texans looked dead in the water and in line for an upset at the hands of the Jaguars. But behind a furious comeback fueled by Matt Schaub and the supposedly hobbled Andre Johnson in his twilight years, the Texans pulled out a 43-37 overtime win. Schaub ended up with 5 TDs and 527 yards passing (second most in history) while Johnson turned in a career receiving game with 14 receptions and 273 yards (most since the start of the millennium). Oh, and the Texans’ defense is good too, although All-Pro CB Jonathan Joseph is questionable.

The Lions have had a mostly forgettable season so far, but have been in almost all of their games.n You get the feeling they may break out one of these games and flatten somebody. The question, as always with the Jim Schwartz coached Kittehs, is their mental condition and discipline. There do not seem to be any new names on the Docket Report, but they have suspended number two receiver Titus Young for undisclosed conduct unbecoming. It is always something. They may also be without critical left tackle Jeff Backus due to a hamstring injury; if so, it will be the first game he has missed in the last 186 games. Even if Backus plays, he will be hobbled. That is going to be a problem for both the passing game and running game (such as it may be with the Lions), and it is hard to see how that is not a cruncher against a team like the Texans.

The Dallas Cowboys did not start playing Thanksgiving day games until 1966, but they have played a home game on Turkey day every year since with the exception of 1975 and 1977. They are now as much a Turkey tradition as Detroit. Today the ‘Boys have a great one as the hated Washington Redskins come to town. That means RGIII baybee! Maybe the most exciting player in the league at this point. Dallas has righted the ship at 5-5 and, shockingly, are within one game of the NFC East lead as the Giants have faltered to 6-4. But the running game is hurting with Demarco Murray likely out and Felix Jones banged up. On a positive note, Dez Bryant might be starting to mature a little and Miles Austin is starting to show up again, so look for the Cowboys to go early and often to the pass. Washington’s defense is hurting. Brian Orakpo and Adam Carriker were already out, and now safety Brandon Meriweather is done for the year and London fletcher hurting. This looks on paper like a Dallas win, but then there is the RGIII factor. I still think Dallas wins.

The third and final game today is Pats at Jets. Honestly it is hard to get too geeked up over this game. New England is starting to click and the Jets, while hanging around, always seem to be on the verge of completely imploding. You have to wonder how long they can stick with Rex Ryan as coach, but owner Johnson may be an even bigger problem. The Jets are a mess. And the Pats have lost the Gronk to a broken arm. My guess is he won’t really be out six weeks, but he sure will be for a few. And that hurts. Aqib Talib in his Patriots debut made a definite mark, the Pats D is already better. Maybe the Jets pull off an upset, but it is hard to see how. Pats roll.

There is a college game tonight as well with TCU going to visit the Whorens of Texas. There are some decent games on the tube Black Friday, and provide a great reason to stay out of the teeming public masses. Nebraska at Iowa and LSU at Arkansas are both decent games. They may look like walkovers, but the underdog is at home in both, so they may be pretty interesting. But the real fun comes in the form of two historic rivalry games in the PAC. First up is Washington at Washington State. The Cougars have really disappointed under new coach Rick Leach, but anything goes in the Apple Cup.

Better yet is the Territorial Cup game between ASU and Arizona. Let me tell you, these schools HATE each other. And while neither team is ranked this year, they have both shown moments of explosiveness and it is one rivalry game that almost always is worth watching. this year the game is down in Tucson, so I won’t be going. I have to say, Rich Rodriquez has been a breath of fresh air for the Wildcats after the Mike Stoops doldrums. ASU also has a new coach, Todd Graham that is making consistent progress in toughening up the Devils and bringing some discipline. I have no idea which way this game will go this year, it is impossible to read. It is the Friday night game on ESPN and is well worth the watch.

That is it for the Turkey day games. Have a great Thanksgiving people and join in the comments for some fun. The music today is from an awesome band called Vintage Trouble. They are a modern band that is dedicated to creating a mid-century soul/juke joint sound, and man do they deliver. Check out some of their other tunes too, they are smokin. Otis Redding would be proud.

As a parting shot, if you are a fan of the Princess Bride, check out the NFL on ESPN version.

Rip this joint!

Bmaz is a rather large saguaro cactus in the Southwestern Sonoran desert. A lover of the Constitution, law, family, sports, food and spirits. As you might imagine, a bit prickly occasionally. Bmaz has attended all three state universities in Arizona, with both undergraduate and graduate degrees from Arizona State University, and with significant post-graduate work (in physics and organic chemistry, go figure) at both the University of Colorado in Boulder and the University of Arizona. Married, with both a lovely child and a giant Sasquatch dog. Bmaz has been a participant on the internet since the early 2000’s, including active participation in the precursor to Emptywheel, The Next Hurrah. Formally joined the Emptywheel blog as an original contributing member at its founding in 2007. Bmaz grew up around politics, education, sports and, most significantly, cars; notably around Formula One racing and Concours de Elegance automobile restoration and showing. Currently lives in the Cactus Patch with his lovely wife and beast of a dog, and practices both criminal and civil trial law.
31 replies
  1. jo6pac says:

    I’ll take a pass on todays games and wait for F-1 on Sunday morning followed the 9er game. The sun out so it’s time to go outside. Everyone have a Great Turkey day:)

  2. Bay State Librul says:

    As a kiddo, it was always the Salem vs Beverly high school matchup at 10AM, with the family meal after.
    Rich tradition.

    I worry about the Pats tonight….

  3. nomolos says:

    @Bay State Librul: Marblehead vs Swamscott for me and then a few Jars in the Landing.

    As for the Pats tonight. First it is way too late for me so I will watch it at 6am second Ryan could have Namath at QB and he would still screw it up.

    Where is Petraeus eating his turkey today?

  4. emptywheel says:

    Not get too geeked about tonight’s game?!?!

    I am. Hopefully the Pats that showed up on Sunday will be there, because I was excited about THAT team.

    The Lions, however? Glad Schwartz has finally started thinking about discipline (about 9 months too late, IMO). But we’ll miss Young.

  5. bmaz says:

    @emptywheel: Let’s put it this way, you know the Pats will show up, the only question is will they be good, or will they be really good. But the only way this will be a good game is if the Jets of last week show up. And even those Jets were doing it against the Rams, not exactly a world class team. The Pats are starting to click, it is just hard to see how the Jets keep up. But maybe the loss of Gronk will affect the Pats enough to make it interesting.

  6. bmaz says:

    So Phil Simms has now twice commented how much Stafford looks like Brett Favre with how he can throw from any angle, from any body position. Actually, today I can see that.

    Good lord, what a catch by Andre Johnson for 43 yards. Wow. What a great game so far.

  7. jo6pac says:

    @bmaz: In for lunch and Yes I see that. In talking people this week most said he was to young/green and not sure we watched the same game. He played a wide open West Coast offense at Nevada. Then again the test will be going against a top defense but in the past Joe and Steve were able shred rushing D. The best come back was Joe at Philly down by 30 at the half. Then both Bill W. and George S. may change before the half. The second half was unreal the only thing better that day was going to a Bill S. play in Ashland, Ore. that evening.

  8. bmaz says:

    @jo6pac: It won’t all be like against the Bears, there will be some rough patches, he is still effectively a rookie. But man, he DOES look like the future and might as well get him some experience before the end of the season turns into the playoffs. He is clearly the future for the Niners.

    And, BOY HOWDY, the CBS studio crew were just merciless on Suh. Said they couln’t even shake his hand after a game because he was dirty and not a man.

  9. jo6pac says:

    @bmaz: They did trade up to get him and he does look like the real deal. That was my thought also he needs the snaps now because we all know that it’s a different season in the playoffs. Nap time is over,Oh well back to outside it’s almost 70 here in the Central Valley of Calli.

    • bmaz says:

      Anybody got any comments on this Lions game? It has been a pretty good, even if curious (Hi Coach Schwartz!) game.

  10. Brett Banditelli says:

    I just woke up so it’s going to take time for me to get my head in the game. it seems I’m not the only one.

  11. bmaz says:

    @Brett Banditelli: Brett!! Welcome! And Happy turkey Day to you. Yes, it has been uncharacteristically slow for Trash Talk today. Must be the L-Tryptophan, but heck I don’t even eat for another two hours still.

  12. masaccio says:

    @bmaz we don’t get the game on France2. Anyway, it’s late. But Happy Thanksgiving to you and @emptywheel and the wheelies.

  13. Peterr says:

    Three thoughts:

    (1) “Territorial Cup”? Does this mean that McCain has been illegally serving in the Senate for all these years, because Arizona *isn’t* a state after all?

    (2) Thanks for that ESPN/Princess Bride link. I’ve gotten into a couple of conversations and email discussions that go like that, but none of them have been broadcast on national television.

    I have, however, worked the Princess Bride into a few sermons and Bible study classes . . .

    (3) KC’s “Country Club Plaza” outdoor shopping center has an annual “Plaza Lighting Festival” that culminates with someone flipping the switch to turn on all the Christmas lights that line the Spanish-style buildings.

    As one of the local sports anchors said on the 5pm news, “Tonight at the Plaza Lighting, it’s not one of the Chiefs throwing the switch. It’s not one of the Royals. It’s three of the hottest members of Sporting KC. That right there tells you everything you need to know about sports in KC right now.”

    The only reason Sunday’s KC Griefs game might not be blacked out is because it’s a chance for folks to see Mr. Manning for very little money. Tickets have been selling at less than face value for most of the last few home games. There’s a story going around that at a recent game, a guy arrived at Arrowhead with a couple of extra tickets and knew he’d never be able to sell them, so he stuck them under the wiper on the back of his SUV with a note that said “Free Tickets — Help Yourself”. After the game, when he got back to his car, there were 30 tickets there, as others with extra tickets saw his sign and decided to dump their tickets that way as well.

    It isn’t pretty.

  14. scribe says:

    One of the pregame reports I heard, per some guy from Jets Insider, was that there were 10k unsold tickets for tonight’s game. And that the Jets were fighting a recently-released player over his injury settlement. The reporter’s comment was that “if a team is fighting an injury settlement, you know they’re short on cash.” All that to explain his hypothesis that as much as Woody might want to blow things up, the Jets are sticking with Fat Rex, Sanchez, et als. because they have too much guaranteed money tied in their contracts to eat.

    In any event, the end of the Owboys’ game was very gratifying. They shat all over The Star, and didn’t even need T.O. to be there to do it.

  15. emptywheel says:

    @Peterr: Look on the bright side. When the Kitties went through that stage (we may be headed back there), folks couldn’t even afford the “free” tickets.

  16. 4jkb4ia says:

    I want to go on record as saying that this game is a disgrace. It is completely worthy of the cliche “embarrassed on national television” and the Jets have absolutely no hope if they play like that. There was little reason for the Rams not to put them out of their misery on Sunday.

    In the very recent past, we would have the Backyard Brawl tomorrow and the Missouri-Kansas game this week or next week. Traditions such as this could bring interest to even an awful season such as Mizzou and Pitt are having, but have been disposed of in the frenzy not to lose out. I don’t even know if it’s greed for either WVU or Pitt.

  17. Peterr says:

    @emptywheel: I’m waiting for the local KC television station that carries the Griefs to start their telecast with a pregame set up piece from the tailgating in the parking lot, go away to the national broadcast for the first half, then go back to the tailgating for a half-time feature, and then decide — like many a Griefs fan — “screw the second half; let’s just stick with the tailgating.”

    My WAG: ratings would skyrocket.

    Televised BBQ would do quite well, given the alternative inside Arrowhead.

  18. GulfCoastPirate says:

    Tough loss for the Lions. That 81 yard TD run was about the weirdest play I think I’ve ever seen.

    Belated Happy Thanksgiving to everyone.

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