Coyotes Television/Radio Host Todd Walsh makes regular submissions to his blog for FSN Arizona. With the upcoming holiday, Todd shared his memories of some of his most memorable Thanksgivings. You can catch more of Todd's blog entries as well as all the latest sports information by visiting the FSN Arizona website.
As a sports fan, it has been a pretty remarkable holiday over the years, that's for sure.
As a Dallas Cowboy fan growing up, I won't ever forget the Thanksgiving of 1974. The Cowboys trailed George Allen and his Washington Redskins 16 to 3 with 9:57 to go in the third quarter and Roger Staubach was out with a concussion. You couldn't ruin Thanksgiving any easier than a pounding at the hands of the Redskins. And Roger was hurt. Pat Summeral and Tom Brookshier would no doubt spend the rest of the longest day telling us how great the Skins were and how special it was for them to put a whipping on Dallas, in Dallas on Thanksgiving Day; all this before the pecan pie. All hope was lost. It would most certainly destroy the entire four day holiday.
Enter Clint "The Mad Bomber" Longley, number 19.
What the heck was a Clint Longley? He hadn't played a down all year. Where did Craig Morton go? The "Over the Hill Gang," as the Redskins were called, would surely turn Longley into bread pudding. When Longley jogged into the game replacing Staubach, his head coach Tom Landry offered this sage advice:
Somehow, someway, the unthinkable happened. Andy Warhol was a Dallas Cowboys fan. Longley's line: 11/20/203 with two touchdowns. Still, with 35 seconds to play, the Cowboys stood at midfield. Second and ten. No timeouts. Trailing by six.
Drew Pearson managed to get behind Allen's vaunted nickel defense and Longley perfectly hit him on a 50-yard bomb, in stride, in the end zone.
Clint Longley, my hero. He was the toast of the town for a day. Two training camp's later, after a scuffle with Staubach he was gone. Gone, but not forgotten.
Thanksgiving Eve of 1983 was the last time that I ever consumed whiskey. You haven't lived till you have flown home, across the country for the holiday, only to spend it lying on the floor of your old room, eating white crackers and drinking ginger ale. I can still hear my sister's husband saying,
"you caught the 24 hour flu, eh?"
I flew back to Tucson from New York the next morning. I was starving and pale as a ghost. Seagrams and 7? Never again.
Then there was the Thanksgiving of 1985. I was with the University of Arizona basketball team as their head manager spending the holiday away from home in Anchorage, Alaska. We were taking part in the Great Alaska Shootout. It was the thrill of a lifetime. For me, that is. Not for the family that bid with hundreds of other families in the area to host NCAA basketball players for Thanksgiving dinner.
You should have seen the faces on my host family as they opened their door only to see not Sean Elliott or Steve Kerr. Not Kenny Lofton or Anthony Cook. Not even Lute Olson.
No, they drew the short straw.
Enter Todd Walsh and Steven Condon. Head manager and head trainer for the Wildcats.
"Come in," said the father. "And you are?"
Steve taught the kids how to tape ankles, and I rebounded free throws before pumpkin pie.
I spent nearly a decade laughing my way through Thanksgiving. Laughing because Arizona didn't lose to Arizona State in football for nine straight years (and don't tell me that the "tie" didn't count. It was more fun than any of those wins and you know it!). Turkey never tasted as good as it did in 1986. I think I devoured 106 pieces of white meat. One for each yard that Chuck Cecil raced from end zone to end zone.
I had the pleasure of spending a handful of Thanksgiving night's at America West Arena. The Coyotes were trying to develop a holiday tradition. Keith Tkachuck and Jeremy Roenick each had hat tricks on Thanksgiving night games at AWA. What is the name of that chemical in Turkey that makes you sleepy? There should have been a HazMat crew on hand.
This year, it's an early meal, and an early evening flight to Dallas for a Coyotes game the next day. Who knows what might happen?
And while we are in Dallas, I might just track down somebody, somebody from my past. An aging football hero. I am sure he still lives in the area. Come to think of it, his name probably pops up just about every Thanksgiving in those parts.
As well it should.
So, if you are out and about in "Big D" on Thanksgiving night, Clint Longley, the first one is on me. I'll make it a Seagrams and 7, please for old times sake.