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Turkey Bowl

As Kelly and I are getting ready to make our Thanksgiving trek to my parents place, I started to get nostalgic for Thanksgivings past. Not the turkey or the Cowboys and Lions games on tv - those will be there this year like they are every year. No, what I'll be missing this year, like I have the past few, is the turkey bowl.

Like lots of folks out there, for many years Thanksgiving meant to me not only stuffing my self silly, but also getting together with my old high school buddies for a post thanksgiving game of pigskin. Yep, there was nothing like a cold, dark November day in Pittsburgh for me and my friends to try to channel our inner Terry Bradshaw/ Lynn swann/ Jack Lambert. For anyone watching (not that there ever was), I'm sure what we played was stretching the definition of football, but for us, every year was Super Bowl 13 all over again.

The game itself had all the usual pick up game rules: three completes for a first down, five second rush, no fake punts (if you check), etc. The location was wherever we could find an empty field at one of the local schools. The prime score was carving out a spot on the high school turf (although perhaps not anymore) because (a) it was turf; (b) yard lines, end zones and out of bounds we're already defined and (c) with the stands, sidelines, etc. it just felt like a real game. But since lots of people had the same idea, getting a spot on the field was rough. So often times it was elementary or jr. high fields (advantage: grass and mud (as opposed to turf) made it feel like a real game).

The game itself was usually four on four or five on five - any more than that, someone had to play offensive line and who wants to do that? When we were younger it was strictly tackle, but as we got older and more susceptible to injury it evolved to two hand touch. Although I remember many times following the "gentler" two hand touch game, feeling so sore that tackle wouldn't have made much of a difference. Given that its usually pretty cold in Pittsburgh in November, you'll feel any contact for the next few days.

Unfortunately, since my parents retired and moved south, I don't get back to Pittsburgh for Thanksgiving, which means no turkey bowl. But that doesn't mean I don't miss it. So rumpy, goose, kess, uni, craig, bullzy, bill, fitz and everyone else, if you do play this year, consider yourself lucky. Thanksgiving with turkey, but no Turkey bowl, just isn't the same.


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Comments (1)



I think the competitive T Bowl days are over for all of us. However, with any luck I'll be able to play all-time QB in a game with my sons and the other neighborhood kids.

It certainly takes me back because I think "glove football" was invented at or about the time we were all 9 years old (the age of my oldest son). My how things have changed. Or not.

They still "check" the punt or grunt call, and punting off of the rusher is still a no-no. You still only get one blitz per series and one QB sneak.

I often wonder how these rules are passed from generation to generation with few, if any, changes. No one writes them down. No one teaches a class when you hit first grade. But damn if they're not all the same 30+ years later.

My last vivid T Bowl memory was from a game played @ Wildcat field. We were relegated to using the outfield portion of a baseball field. It was cold and gray, and the game was actually pretty competitive. If memory serves, I even had my own version of Dwight Clark's The Catch. At least that's what I think it must of looked like as I "skied" over Uni in the back of the endzone. My feet haven't been that far off of the ground since.

Ah . . . tanks for da stroll dahn memree lane, n'at.

Have a great Thanksgiving with your parents and please give our best to your (much) better half.

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