With Thanksgiving upon us, each Yahoo Sports blog is taking stock of what they're thankful for while also providing menu suggestions and a sport-specific viewing guide for when you hit your couch. Share what you're thankful for on Twitter with the #YSBThanks hashtag or in the comments below. Have a safe and happy holiday!
The only thing more important to Thanksgiving than the turkey and over-sized cartoon character balloons floating over New York City is the NFL. The Lions-Cowboys doubleheader has been a part of this holiday since anyone can remember and the NFL added a third rotating night game in 2006 to add to the fun. With Turkey Day football here, the Shutdown Corner writers wanted to share what we're thankful for this holiday season ...
Frank Schwab, Shutdown Corner editor
Lambeau Field: I hadn't been to Lambeau Field in 10 years before I covered a game there earlier this month. Even though I was born in Wisconsin and covered the Packers for three seasons, I forgot what a special place Lambeau Field and Green Bay can be. It's the most unique franchise in all of sports and the venue is the only one in the NFL that every true fan has to go to at least once. With all the bigger and better stadiums in the league, thank goodness Lambeau has retained its incredible charm.
Jim Irsay, Rex Ryan, Richard Sherman, and every other non-robot: I'm not quite sure why being boring is such a goal for everyone in the NFL. Isn't the game supposed to be fun? Jim Irsay's Twitter feed alone reminds us that it's OK to speak honestly and be interesting. It's an entertainment business, after all. So thank you to everyone in the league who understands that putting in so much effort to be boring has never helped a team win a football game.
The communal experience of football: I'm in a longtime fantasy league (Cali FFL Worldwide, here's your shout out ... from the league's only three-time champion), and it strikes me that all 12 guys have very little in common: We all have different jobs, we're different ages, we're in different parts of the world, have different political views, some are married and some aren't ... but we love arguing, sharing inside jokes about terrible draft picks from years past (Kevin Kolb FTW!) and chatting all day because of one reason. We all love football. You also probably know at least a few people in your life who you'd have no connection with otherwise, but have a great friendship because you can argue for hours over beers about the relative merits of Tony Romo. It's a pretty incredible thing, when you think about it.
Our readers: Yes, yes, I include you even after reading some of the comments and emails that tell me what actions I should be performing on myself. The fact is, I wake up every day thankful that I get to live out my dream and write about the NFL for a huge audience that cares so much about the greatest sport in the world. And I'm even including you, Kansas City Chiefs fans. To everyone who comes here to read about the NFL, have a safe and great Thanksgiving.
Eric Edholm, Shutdown Corner contributor
Bad-weather games: They equalize football, making dome teams play someone else’s style of game and reminding us that a 21-17 game can still be epic. Plus, who doesn’t love a muddy/wet/grass-stained uni? In fact, the league should sell those instead of the ladies’ size-zero pink ones. The Super Bowl is going to be great this season, no matter how long it takes to drive to the game.
Bikini girls at bad-weather games: They sacrifice their pristine skin just for our viewing pleasure.
Steve Smith: I’ve known him for years. And he still keeps us on our toes with his play, and even more so, his words. Ice up, son.
The Dallas Cowboys: They are the Charlie Sheens of the NFL, wild and unpredictable one minute, sure-as-rain Hamlet-esque characters in the end. Their face, the inimitable Jerry Jones, keeps us on our toes every step of the way. And Tony Romo is one of sports' most tragic and heroic figures.
The draft: Why do people hate mock drafts so much? Even in August, I’d rather hear about these than your fantasy team. Truly. For me, thinking about the draft is a nearly year-round thing, as it is for NFL executives. And yet you could build an formidable 53-man roster from players who went undrafted. The best inexact science in sports.
Sundays: They are 10 hours of hand-wringing madness, headaches, thorny bushes and weekly psychiatry sessions, all rolled into one. And they are great. No other day feels as important to the sports landscape. What would we do without them?
The evolution of football: The game is always changing. One year to the next. As soon as the Wildcat or read-option offenses become vogue, they are ushered out the door for something else. The same is true on defense. There are some brilliant football minds in coaching these days, but to the innovators go the spoils. If you’re copying, you’re too late to the party.
Anwar Richardson, Shutdown Corner contributor
Cousin Terio: Watching this kid dance on YouTube is one of my guilty pleasures, but I really appreciate Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson bringing this Internet sensation to the NFL. Every time Jackson scores, I anxiously anticipate the dance before I laugh and inevitably watch the YouTube video for the 157th time (make that 158 now). After Ravens kicker Justin Tucker performed the dance, I realized how fortunate I was.
Steve Smith’s smack talk: I enjoyed Steve Smith years ago when he celebrated after each touchdown, but once the receiver toned it down, he was just another good player to me. Then Smith threatened to bust Rams cornerback Janoris Jenkins in the mouth earlier this season, which captured my attention. After Smith told Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib to “Ice up, son." I now love him just as much as any food my mom will serve on Thanksgiving Day.
Megatron: In 2013, we have heard stories about bullying, ridiculous use of the n-word, players getting arrested, and plenty of other negative stories. Nevertheless, Detroit Lions receiver Calvin Johnson remains the league’s best receiver without the accusation of a speeding ticket, and as a person who covered him, that discipline was instilled in him by supportive parents at a very young age. It is refreshing to see an articulate standout excel without any controversy.
Supporting wife of an NFL writer: Football writers are invariably on call, which means family time can end at any moment because of a player arrest, major lineup change, player transaction, or never-ending deadlines. I’m grateful to have a wife who understands the NFL and is unfailingly supportive, even if it cuts into our family time. When we had a miscarriage in 2012 while I was covering the NFL scouting combine, she always remained understanding about this job and the sacrifices that are necessary. When our 10-month-old son was born earlier this year, she did not blink when I left a couple of weeks later to spend seven days away from home to cover the Super Bowl. She is a great wife, awesome mom, and my best friend.
BBQ at Arrowhead: Arrowhead Stadium is the only place in America where people wax poetically about the smell of the parking lot. Burnt ends, please.
Bratwurst from Lambeau: The only thing better is a bratwurst from Miller Park, but we're sure the Big League Stew guys got that figured out.
Primanti Bros. at Heinz Field: There are fries on the sandwich, people.
John Madden's Turducken: Still not sure exactly what this is or how it tastes, but for so many years this was a NFL on Thanksgiving staple.
Green Bay at Detroit, 12:30 p.m. (all times Eastern), FOX: Hey, the Lions actually might win a game on Thanksgiving! That hasn't happened since 2003. Unless Aaron Rodgers surprisingly plays for Green Bay, the Lions are the clear favorite.
Oakland at Dallas, 4:00 p.m., CBS: The Cowboys should win, but Tony Romo and friends always find a way to make things interesting.
Pittsburgh at Baltimore, 8:30 p.m., NBC: This great rivalry doesn't have the bite it has the last few years, with both teams at 5-6. But, the AFC is so top heavy that 5-6 is tied for a playoff spot right now.
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