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What's your favorite Thanksgiving football memory?

November 21, 2012
  • Boston College quarterback Doug Flutie rejoices in his brother Darren's arms after defeating the Miami Hurricanes with a last-second touchdown pass on Nov. 23, 1984.
Boston College quarterback Doug Flutie rejoices in his brother Darren's… (Associated Press )

In addition to green bean casserole, giant balloons of cartoon characters and arguments with family members over who gets to pull the wishbone, football is a part of the Thanksgiving holiday for many people.

Writers from around the Tribune Co. share their favorite Turkey Day football memories. Feel free to leave some of your own in our comments section.

David Teel, Newport News Daily Press

No Thanksgiving chow line, even one including Mom’s sinful mashed potatoes, was dragging this 12-year-old away from the television in 1971.

Nebraska-Oklahoma. Johnny Rodgers and Greg Pruitt. Chris Schenkel and Bud Wilkinson at the microphone. The Game of the Century. The defending national champion Cornhuskers were undefeated and ranked No. 1. Their Big Eight rivals, the Sooners, were undefeated, No. 2 and averaging nearly 500 yards rushing per game with their wishbone offense.

The contest matched, indeed exceeded, the hype. Nebraska’s Rodgers returned a punt 72 yards for a touchdown. Oklahoma rallied from an 11-point, fourth-quarter deficit to seize the lead, but a 33-yard pass to Rodgers keyed a last-ditch Nebraska drive that resulted in a touchdown and a 35-31 victory. Only then was it time to eat.       

Paul Doyle, Hartford Courant

There's nothing quite like the day-after Thanksgiving turkey sandwich, a sort of postgame of gluttony on our weekend of food. But on the holiday weekend of my freshman year of college, my next-day sandwich sat untouched while I stood transfixed in front of the TV.

Boston College was tangled in a duel with the mighty Miami Hurricanes and it unfolded as must-see TV.

It was classic game of "Can you top this?" between quarterbacks Bernie Kosar (447 yards) and Doug Flutie (472 yards). Amid the wind and rain, the Hurricanes went up but four points with 28 seconds left. It ended, of course, with one of the most memorable plays in college football — make that, sports — history.

Flutie connected on a Hail Mary pass to Gerard Phelan to give BC a 47-45 win. It was a jaw-dropping, unforgettable finish, a game that was well worth postponing, yet not canceling, the turkey sandwich.

Jeff Schuler, Allentown Morning Call

Thanksgiving Day, 1974. Everyone knew who Roger Staubach was, even those of us who didn't believe the Cowboys were America's Team. Nobody knew who Clint Longley was.

But in a little less than a half a game after Staubach was knocked out by a hit from Washington linebacker Dave Robinson, Longley thrust himself into the national spotlight and etched himself into Texas lore. The rookie rallied the Cowboys, on the brink of playoff elimination, from a 16-3 deficit by throwing for 203 yards and two touchdowns, including a 50-yard touchdown bomb to Drew Pearson in a 24-23 victory that helped the Cowboys get to the Super Bowl.

That's still not Longley's biggest contribution to the franchise, however -- after punching Staubach during training camp two years later, Longley was traded to San Diego for two 1977 picks that were eventually flipped to Seattle in the Tony Dorsett trade.

Aaron Wilson, Baltimore Sun

Back in the old days before gorging on turkey and stuffing with our families, my high school buddies and I used to have an annual informal Turkey Bowl football game.

It wasn't very organized, but it was fun. It was tackle football. There was a lot of trash-talking, a few decent touchdowns and, invariably, an injury or two.

It wasn't the smartest thing to do in the world, but it was fun and you worked up a big appetite.

Before and after eating mom's cooking, you could settle in to watch the NFL games. That was the best part.

Among the memorable ones: Peyton Manning's six touchdowns, Randy Moss piling up three touchdowns, Troy Aikman's 450-yard game and Leon Lett being unable to pick up a loose football in a loss to Miami.

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