2008 Thanksgiving Day Football TV Schedule

Thanksgiving Day football is more than tradition – for most fans it’s an absolute necessity.  Anytime the family congregates on a holiday, there is usually television involved – whether it’s New Year’s Eve broadcast from Times Square in New York, re-runs of It’s a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Story around Christmas, or local fireworks on July 4th.

On Thanksgiving, there are two staples of television:  The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and football.  Both are equally important to watch for some families, as both capture the sense of participation, sharing and merriment during the Thanksgiving holiday season.

The tradition of Thanksgiving Day (NFL) football goes as far back as 1920, and the Detroit Lions have been playing on Thanksgiving Day since 1925.  Up until 2008, only six NFL teams have not competed on Thanksgiving Day.

Here is your Thanksgiving Day football TV guide (all times are Eastern):

Titans at Lions @ 12:30 p.m. (CBS)
Seahawks at Cowboys @ 4:15 p.m. (FOX)
Cardinals at Eagles @ 8:15 p.m. (NFL Network HD)

Texas A&M at Texas @ 8:10 p.m. (ESPN)

The Most Famous Plays in Sports History

I have put together a list (in no particular order) of the most memorable plays in sports history.  To provide a better visual of these plays, you will find videos for each play embedded in this post.  These decisive plays have changed the sporting world in one way or another, and are arguably the most cogently remembered plays of all time.

1. Immaculate Reception

The Immaculate Reception is a neologism that refers to a shoestring catch made by Steelers running back Franco Harris during the AFC divisional playoff game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Oakland Raiders.  The play marked the beginning of a decade of playoff wins for the Steelers, including four Super Bowls.

The catch happened with 22 seconds remaining in the game.  The Pittsburgh Steelers trailed the Oakland Raiders 7-6, and were facing fourth-and-10 on their own 40-yard line.  Steelers QB Terry Bradshaw was looking for Barry Pearson on the play, but he was not open.  Instead, Bradshaw threw in the direction of fullback John “Frenchy” Fuqua, who was hit by Jack Tatum the moment the ball reached Fuqua.  Tatum knocked Fuqua to the ground, and the ball was knocked backward several yards.  Franco Harris, being at the right place at the right time, caught the ball on its descent to the ground (near his feet) and ran it all the way back for Steelers win.

2. The Shot

The Shot refers to a game-winning basket made by Michael Jordan during the 1989 NBA Playoffs vs. the Cleveland Cavaliers.  Jordan and the Chicago Bulls were behind, 100-99 with 3.2 seconds remaining on the clock.  The ball was inbounded to Jordan, who took the shot from near the foul line to win not only the game, but also the series for the Bulls.  The buzzer-beater allowed Chicago to move on to play the New York Knicks in a best-of-seven.

3. The Ball of the Century

Australia’s Shane Warne bowled a cricket delivery that stirred the entire world of professional cricket.  On the second day of the first Test of the 1993 Ashes series, Warne delivered a bowl that stunned batsman Mike Gatting of England.  The leg spin delivery, characterized by a anti-clockwise spin that causes the ball to drift right (if thrown by a right hander), will strike the ground and move inside the batsman – hopefully to cause the batsman to be bowled.  The closest equivalent, in American sports, would be a sharp moving curveball that resulted in a strikeout.  The significance of this bowl is that the leg spin delivery was thrust prominently back into the spotlight, and its effectiveness was recognized by cricket followers everywhere.

4. The Catch

The Catch refers to a play made by New York Giants outfielder Willie Mays during the 1954 World Series at the Polo Grounds in New York.  The catch is often considered one of the best plays in Major League Baseball, due to the incredible difficulty of the feat.

Mays was playing shallow center field when Indian’s Vic Wertz crushed the ball to deep center.  At the time, the distance from home plate to the center field wall was almost 475 ft. at Polo Grounds, making it one of the hardest ballparks to hit a home run over the center field wall.  Mays ran with the ball at his back, eventually making the dramatic catch over his shoulder near the 425 ft. mark.  The Catch prevented the Indians from scoring any more runs (the score was 2-2 at the time of The Catch), and the Giants won the game in overtime.  The Giants went on to sweep the series.

5. The Play

The Play refers to a last-effort football kickoff return by the University of California Golden Bears against Stanford University during their 85th rivalry game, dubbed the “Big Game.”  Stanford had taken a 20-19 lead on a field goal with four seconds left in the game, and all that remained was time for a kickoff.  The Golden Bears, making use of five lateral passes, returned the kickoff for a touchdown – even after the Stanford marching band had stormed the field thinking their team had won.  The Play is widely controversial, as there are many who say that Cal made illegal lateral passes or was even downed at one point during the run.  However, The Play is still upheld in record books, and is one of the most memorable plays in football history.

One of the most remembered moments in the video below is at the end of The Play, when Kevin Moen slammed into unaware Stanford trombone player Gary Tyrell for the touchdown and the win.

6. The Hand of God goal

The Hand of God goal refers to a ruled goal made by Argentina’s Diego Maradona during the quarter-final match of the 1986 FIFA World Cup.  Argentina beat England, 2-1, not as a result of the goal, but as a result of a later goal dubbed as the “Goal of the Century” scored by Maradona just five minutes after the Hand of God goal.  The Hand of God goal is famous for its inaccurate ruling as a legitimate goal, for Maradona batted the ball into the goal with his left fist.  The goal was dubbed the “Hand of God” goal as Maradona was quoted after the game that the goal was scored “a little with the head of Maradona, a little with the Hand of God.”  In actuality, the goal was scored entirely with the hand of Maradona.

7. The Goal of the Century

The Goal of the Century was a goal scored by Diego Maradona during the same quarter-final 1986 FIFA World Cup match versus England.  The goal was voted the “Greatest Goal in FIFA World Cup History” in a poll on FIFA’s website in 2002.  Earlier in the match, Maradona scored a goal with his hand, which was ruled legitimate.  Argentina beat England in the controversial match, 2-1.

8. The Rumble in the Jungle

The Rumble in the Jungle in Zaire was a famous boxing match pitting world Heavyweight champion George Foreman versus the former champion, Muhammad Ali.  Foreman lost much of his stamina after several rounds, tiring because of Ali’s speed and dodging skills.  In the eighth round, Ali landed the perfect combination of punches to put Foreman on the floor, unconscious.  The match signified that then-favored Foreman was still no match for the treacherous Ali.

Saints vs. Chargers in Europe?!

For the second year in a row, the NFL will play ball at Wembley Stadium in London, England. The NFL match will pair the Saints vs. the Chargers at Wembley, continuing a history of the NFL playing at the historic stadium. Last year, the Giants faced the Dolphins in the UK, and the Giants pulled out the win 13-10 despite inclement weather conditions. In the American Bowls, running from 1986 to 2005, american football teams played at Wembley a total of eight times. Some of NFL’s biggest stars walked on and off the field in London, including Joe Montana, Steve Young, John Elway and Dan Marino.

And I’ll bet you thought that football was only played in the United States. Not nearly. In fact, NFL players have made several appearances outside the U.S. As part of the American Bowls, the NFL has played in Tokyo, Montreal, Berlin, Barcelona, Mexico City, Dublin, Osaka, Vancouver and Monterrey. This just goes to show that the fandom of American football is more far-reaching and diverse than you would have initially thought. Although the American Bowl series no longer exists, the International Series is carrying on the tradition of bringing live football to fans all over the world. The International Series is the successor to the American Bowl, as games played abroad are now regular season games instead of preseason games. In addition to these games, the Buffalo Bills will be playing a preseason match in Toronto against the Pittsburgh Steelers on August 14. Make sure to catch the Chargers vs. Saints game this year, especially if you are going to be in Europe!

Brett Favre in 2008?

For all of those who haven’t already heard, Green Bay Packers’ late great Brett Favre is pondering the implications of his retirement from the team last season.  Favre, who led the struggling Packers to the NFC championship game and surpassed John Elway’s total wins record in the 2007 season, said today in an excerpt that he “is guilty of retiring early,” reinforcing his interest in returning to the NFL in 2008. 

On July 11, Favre asked Green Bay for an unconditional release that would let him play for another NFL team this season.  Packers’ general manager Ted Thompson has dispelled rumors that Favre would be released from the team, and that the former quarterback is welcome to rejoin the team in a “different role than he was.”  Thompson has made it clear that the Packers are looking to move forward with Aaron Rodgers, Favre’s 24 year-old replacement from Chico, California.  It is interesting to note, however, that Favre’s locker is still intact.

Whether or not the Packers will consider Favre for a trade next season is yet to be discussed, and as of Saturday, no trade inquiries have arisen concerning the QB.

Anticipating the Kickoff

For some reason, I woke up this morning and was excited.  At what, I am not sure. Maybe I actually slept last night. Very often I stay up late and get up early, tossing and turning in between grabbing at the blanket that has started slipping to the floor.  Or maybe I just woke anticipating the weekend – it is Friday you know, and I tend to romp a bit when I have the time.

More than likely I feel this great because I am rested, ready for the weekend and dreaming about another football game.  I still can’t imagine a better way to spend my Saturday.  Oh yeah, tomorrow’s Saturday.  If you see some fool driving circles around Darrell K. Royal stadium tomorrow in a white 2002 Mustang, you can be assured it is me, lonely for some football.  If you are cute and wave, I might pick you up.

In my entire 23 years of existence, I have only attended four college football games (slapping my wrist as I write).  Now, don’t get me wrong, college football is the bread that nourishes my entire family.  Just to take a stab at it, I would guess that I have spent at least a 1,000 hours sitting in front of the tube, praying my receiver would catch that Hail Mary.  I would imagine I have consumed over 20 lbs. of Thanksgiving Day turkey, screaming at the television between mouthfuls.  However, the fact remains that I do have some regrets – namely, that I was so poor in college that it was better to scalp my ticket and catch the game at a friend’s house.  God knows I’m not the only one who has been in those shoes.

When I was junior at the University of Texas, I got my chance to see my first live college football game.  As a photographer for UT’s yearbook, The Cactus, my first ever experience was directly on the field, in the absolute core of the breathtaking action.  I was able to experience the expansive cheers of the crowd, the deafening roar of the touchdown cannon, the sea of burnt orange color that were the fans, and the crack of helmets and shoulder pads as big sweaty bodies mauled each other right in front of me.  (I was nearly killed by a sideline play that game, and it was awesome.)  Texas walloped OSU 36-10, and I was officially addicted to the experience.

I photographed a few other games as well.  You can see some of my pictures from last year’s Cotton Bowl here.

I guess the whole point of this post is simply this:  if you have never seen a college football game at the stadium, you are not taking the right vitamins.  Get out of the house, go hang out with those guys in the parking lot under the colored tent, and have some real fun.  I don’t care how young or old you are, don’t give up the opportunity to be a fan – NCAA football is priceless.  We have the best tickets to every major NCAA game, so go.  You may not get to stand on the field, but we’ll get you pretty darn close.  Please, whatever you do, don’t end up like this guy:

Kid needs a ticket -Texas vs. OSU pregame
Kid needs a ticket -Texas vs. Ohio State pregame