Thanksgiving Football


It seems that everybody has their own Thanksgiving traditions. Family bickering, eating too much and sleeping on the sofa after the meal is pretty much a given these days. However there are others as well. When I was growing up it involved football, and not planting ourselves in front of the idiot box and watching endless ads occasionally punctuated by football. No in high school and college and even for some time afterwards it meant playing football.

Call it the mud bowl, the turkey bowl and or just your everyday pickup football game a number of us would gather and play, regardless of the weather. As we grew older, and the pains took more than an afternoon to pass, and we all started lives and moved away, the tradition waned. As I have worked over the years I discovered that this type of tradition is pretty common.  For many it was often an extended family affair where they could work off grudges, many of which emerged from the previous year’s game.

So this year my friend Hans attempted to restart the tradition. Having realized that maybe tackle football was not a great idea he opted for two hand touch. Now keep in mind that the average age of the invitee was probably in the mid-40s, and that a number of them had probably not touched a real football in a decade (nerf footballs with your kids do not count.) About a dozen expressed interest, but interest faded a bit due to a number of factors. It rained two inches two days prior to game day, which was the Saturday after Thanksgiving. The annual Oregon vs Oregon State football game was actually going to mean something, at least to OSU fans, and probably a good hard look in the mirror also created doubt to playing ability.

So as game time rolled around there were only five players. It was decided to play, with a set quarterback and four downs to score. I should mention that I was honored with the position of head (and sole) referee. I also suspect that no one want to haul my carcass off the field if I suffered a major heart attack. The teams rolled up and down the very sloppy field, played near the upper baseball diamond at Gabriel Park. A number of joggers, dog walkers and people working off the leftovers paused for a moment and pondered what they were witnessing before going on their way scratching their collective heads.

Sadly the game ended early as each team had a player suffer a debilitating injury, with a potentially reinjured ACL on one side and a pulled or torn hamstring on the other. Everybody decided that a few ice cold beers would cure the injuries so we all hurried out to The Ship. I suspect the effort will be attempted next year, hopefully with less injuries and more players.

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