Happy Thanksgiving


A new "For Pete's Sake" blog appears each Thursday on Profootballhof.com.

I grew up in a large, sports crazed family that most definitely had its priorities straight. Nothing was better proof of this than the fact that our Thanksgiving dinner typically wasn’t served until halftime of the second game and that’s only if the game wasn’t close. If the Dallas Cowboys and whoever they faced were embattled in a tight game, invariably a widespread plea to my mother would result in a delay in serving the turkey.

We all have our fond memories of the NFL and Thanksgiving. Here are my Top 5 personal memories.

5. Randy Moss making a name for himself with three long TDs catches as a rookie in 1998 to help the Vikings to a win over the Cowboys.

4. In 1976, the Buffalo Bills’ O.J. Simpson set the single-game rushing record with 273 yards against the Detroit Lions.

3. I remember the 1980 game between the Bears and Lions almost as if it was yesterday. Everybody likes overtime unless it comes in preseason or on Thanksgiving (there’s dinner to be eaten). So, I remember feeling the relief after Dave Williams of the Bears ran back the opening kickoff of overtime to beat the Lions. The play took just 21 seconds and at the time was the fastest overtime win ever.

2. I always enjoy seeing the Lions win on Thanksgiving. As such,  their 1995 game, a wild one against the Vikings, really stands out. Quarterback Scott Mitchell broke Bobby Layne’s team record when he aired it out for 410 yards and threw 4 TDs to lead the Lions to a 44-38 win. Three Lions receivers had 100 yards that day – Brett Perriman (153), Herman Moore (127), and Johnnie Morton (102). Aside from that, Barry Sanders had a second half to remember. He only had 1 yard in the first half but finished his holiday with 138 yards that included a critical 50-yard TD run with just over five minutes to play that ultimately was the game-winner.

1. It’s strange sometimes what resonates for a football fan. But, for me it was in 1975 when the Bills faced the St. Louis Cardinals. Being a native of Buffalo, N.Y. I grew up in a time when the Bills rarely played in front of a national TV audience. So, it was thrill to huddle in our family room and spend that Thanksgiving watching the Bills. For the record, one of my favorite players at the time, Jim Braxton, had a career day. The late fullback normally had the role of helping to open holes for Simpson. But on that day he was the featured runner and pounded St. Louis for 160 yards and scored 3 TDs as the Bills beat the Cardinals 32-14.

I’ll be enjoying Thanksgiving with my family and I’ll return to this space in two weeks.

On that note, I wish you all a happy and safe Thanksgiving! Enjoy the games.

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