Thanksgiving Memories (The Football Kind)

The fourth week in November.

You know, the week with Thanksgiving.

The week devoted to pulling teeth in order to get in one central location: your extended family, the family you tolerate and the family you vaguely remember from the last reunion six years ago.


You mingle and give vague updates about how your life has changed in the last 364 days. You eat because you have to, not because you want to. You wait for the clock get on with its job of slowing ticking away until the important part of the day arrives.


Is it selfish for me to say the best part about Thanksgiving is whenever the Dallas Cowboys kick off at 3 in the afternoon? Possibly. But it’s true.

In fact, my earliest Thanksgiving Day memory is also my earliest fragmented memory associated with the Cowboys. It was Turkey Day 1998 and my 7-year-old self was sitting in the back seat of the family Astro van on the way to or from the ritualistic family gathering.

1997 Chevrolet Astro 2 Dr LT Passenger Van Extended

9 out of 10 moms of the 90s choose the Chevy Astro Van.

All I remember from that day is listening to the radio broadcast of the Cowboys game in the car. I remember being emotionally distraught. Not over the eventual 46-36 win by Randy Moss and the Vikings. No, 7-year-old Daniel was in tears because the Cowboys  had the misfortune of losing the coin toss.

I think my dad had to turn the radio off.

My next vague Thanksgiving game memory is from the 2004 game, a 21-7 win over the Bears. Oh, how I miss the Bill Parcells era. The Tuna era cleansed the pallet after the horror of the Dave Campo years (If I experience another 5 – 11 year, so help me..).

There was hope, there was promise…and there was Vinny Testaverde. The real promise wouldn’t arrive for another two years when Tony Romo would take the field. But in 2004, the hopes of 13-year-old Daniel and the rest of the Cowboys’ fandom were invested in the likes of Drew Henson and Julius Jones. They were supposed to finally fill the void left by Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith and take us back to the Promise Land.

Fun Fact: When Julius Jones ran in a touchdown from 33-yards out on the Cowboys first drive of the game, I may or may not have yelled “Welcome to the Promise Land.”

Fun Fact II: Jones would only play in Dallas three more years, finishing with 18 touchdowns and rushing for 1,000 yards in a season just once.

Fun Fact III: Henson would only play in seven games as a Cowboys. All of them in 2004.

Five years later I would get to experience my equivalent of the Leon Lett fiasco in the 1993 Thanksgiving Day game. I’d be shocked if you don’t remember, since FOX and CBS feel the need to show the highlight of it whenever they have the Cowboys game that year.

I was 2-years-old and I’m thankful I don’t remember this game.

But I do remember Roy Williams. I remember the end of the 2010 Thanksgiving game against the Saints with no fondness at all. Jon Kitna was at quarterback. That I did not remember until I rewatched it today.

How could I remember when all you needed to know was Roy Williams fumbled on a sure bet.

There’s been a few blowouts in the Cowboys’ favor on Thanksgiving, but there’s yet to be an incredible Thanksgiving Day game for the ages since I’ve been self aware. Everytime they show Jason Garrett’s career game against the Packers from 1994 and it’s salt in the wound.

After all of the family pleasantries, the eating of the food and the Detroit Lions once again making you wonder why they still get a game on Thanksgiving, hopefully we’ll be treated to a great game between Dallas and the Oakland Raiders.

And by “great” I mean Dallas wins by 20.

About Daniel McFadin

NASCAR writer for Former Sporting News intern. Graduated from IUPUI in Indianapolis with a master in sports journalism in 2014 and from Arkansas State University in 2013 with a degree in Journalism. Originally from Lewisville, Texas, now in Fort Worth. Ask me if I like Star Wars. I dare you.
This entry was posted in Dallas Cowboys, Fandom, Football, History, Memories, NFL, Sports and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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