Thanksgiving Football Etiquette

Thanksgiving is only a couple weeks away now. That means family gatherings. It also means a big family dinner with turkey, unless you live in California, where they have weird stuff like tofu turkey—“tofurkey”—and something called Quorn Roast. Most importantly, though, Thanksgiving means football. Six National Football League (NFL) teams will face off, including, unfortunately, the Washington Football Team and the Dallas Cowboys. The banged-up Cowboys are begging middle-aged dads to play quarterback (QB) for them, and Washington, well, they don’t even have a name. In other words, avert your eyes. Following the NFL action, the true professionals will take the field for some good old-fashioned family touch football.

When you head to the backyard, please, for everyone’s sake, remember basic Thanksgiving football etiquette. First, don’t run the ball. Your old relatives, especially Uncle Dan, don’t want to chase you around while you hog the pigskin. Scoring rushing touchdowns doesn’t make you Lamar Jackson, it makes you annoying. Second, don’t start barking orders and drawing plays on your chest. You’re not Bill Belichick. Belichick only smiles seven times per year, though, so you probably don’t want to be him anyway (a real, Wall Street Journal-certified stat). Even when he does smile, he resembles the Grinch after sacking Whoville. It’s so alarming you’d wish that he’d remained grumpy. So, yeah, pass on the drawn-up plays. No one's going to listen to you regardless. Third, don’t try to become all-time QB. Again, no one likes a ball-hog. Plus, you’re not Tom Brady, although you probably do want to be Tom Brady. Yes, I know, he kisses his kids on the lips, but do you know what else he does? Win Super Bowls and make money. Fourth, don’t complain that you were “wide open.” You were not wide open. Fifth, it’s strictly touch, until the in-law nobody likes has the ball. Then, it’s tackle.

There’s one more rule: After winning the backyard championship, situate yourself in front of the television and watch the prime-time NFL game. Feel free to ignore your family. You’ll always have them. The NFL, however, only airs games three days a week for 21 weeks a year. And look, my family’s great and all, but Uncle Dan isn’t Patrick Mahomes; he can’t fetch 25 fantasy points every Sunday. I don’t think Mom has ever found the endzone. It’s nothing personal, but the NFL just beats family. Drunk Uncle Dan’s entertaining, but he’s not as entertaining as Aaron Donald tossing grown men around. If you need further proof, imagine your Dad trying to block Aaron Donald.

On another note, because my parents might read this column, it’s worth noting that you should give your family some attention as well. I’m a V Former now. This will be my last Fall and Turkey Term. I’ve started staring at the pond to see if my reflection has answers about the future. He doesn’t, but he knows family will be the one constant. They miss and care about you, and they’ve sacrificed plenty to make this whole Lawrenceville thing possible. So this Thanksgiving, help out in the kitchen. Maybe suffer through the Cowboys game if Dad insists. And let Uncle Dan get a touchdown or two. He needs it. And throw the ball to Grandma in the endzone. If she drops it once, though, stick to your best receiver. The game is too important to risk losing on Grandma’s butterfingers.

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