The 5 Best Thanksgiving NFL Moments

We know why you actually love Thanksgiving.

We know why you actually love Thanksgiving.

It’s time to gather around the Thanksgiving table and converse with those that you love the most (read: are stuck with). But soon after Grandma makes everyone name something they’re thankful for, and Uncle George says something borderline-racist, you’re going to exhaust all viable topics. Luckily, football is the great equalizer, and Thanksgiving is full to the brim with it. You should have more than enough conversation points with these: the best Thanksgiving NFL moments.

Long before the Saints were dicks, the Eagles were dicks (and arguably still are). Tempers tend to run high in the NFC East, but on Thanksgiving of 1989, in a game between the Cowboys and Eagles eventually dubbed The Bounty Bowl, the train jumped the tracks. A 27-0 whooping put on the Cowboys was compounded by rumors (spread by Jimmy Johnson) that Buddy Ryan (patriarch of the loud and obnoxious Ryans of today) had laid a $200 bounty on Troy Aikman and former Eagles’ kicker Luis Zendejas. The bounties are despicable enough, but really, Buddy? $200? Even in 1989 that makes you a cheapskate.

Just four years later, the ’boys embarrassed themselves yet again, this time at the clumsy hands of the always-good-for-a-laugh Leon Lett. The Big Cat was only ten months removed from his Super Bowl gaffe when he pulled an even bigger boner (heh, heh), this one costing Dallas a win. Miami was attempting a game-winning field goal with time expiring only to have it blocked. The Cowboys literally just had to stand there and then take a knee to win the game. Instead, good ol’ Leon came in hot, barreling into the fray and making it a live ball, which Miami was able recover and re-kick to win the game. Leon had a long, sad walk home that night. Just kidding, he took a car that’s worth more than your life, because he’s super rich.

The Cowboys (as well as the Lions) play every Thanksgiving, so it’s no great shock that they have a multitude of embarrassing moments on Turkey day. Fortunately, that doesn’t make their humiliation any less enjoyable for those of us outside of the Lonestar State. Randy Moss, the always “charismatic” wide receiver, promised Jerry Jones that he would make the Cowboys pay if they didn’t draft him. Well, Jones waved him off and they met for the first time on Thanksgiving 1998. Moss only caught three passes on the day, but made them hurt, as all three went for 50+ yard touchdowns. He also drew a 50-yard pass interference call, cruising to the first of his seven wins against the cowpokes. You can call Moss a lot of things, but “liar” isn’t one of them.

Sometimes the moment comes outside of the game clock, as it did in the 1998 Steelers-Lions Thanksgiving game. The game went into overtime and official Phil Luckett flipped the coin, which Jerome Bettis called “tails” on in the air. You can clearly hear the call on the official’s microphone but Phil decided that Bettis had called “heads,” costing Pittsburgh the ball and eventually, the game. Luckett still insists that Bettis called “heads-tails” and he took the first call, which would make Jerome Bettis either the smartest or the dumbest coin-toss caller ever. Given his skill for punishing those in his way, we’re going to go with smartest. Hear that, Jerome? We’re totally with you!

Ndamukong Suh was recently revealed as the NFL’s least-liked player, and he owes much of that to an incident that transpired last Thanksgiving. With the Packers leading 7-0 in the third, Aaron Rodgers overthrew Donald Driver on the end zone, setting up fourth down and a field goal attempt. That is, if Suh didn’t stomp out lineman Evan Dietrich-Smith way after the play was over. Instead, Suh was tossed and the Packers scored a touchdown and eventually won. While we’d guess that man whose name translates to “House of Spears” doesn’t take too much guff, his temper is going to only land him on the sidelines (although possibly with a World Wrestling Championship belt).

To read about this Thanksgiving’s matchups, go here.
To find out which team has the hottest fans, go here.