Column: 'The Sports Trail': No matter where you are, Thanksgiving means -- football!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

by David McNeal

HOLY COW! Thanksgiving is here. I think the warm weather has fooled my internal calendar because it's just too soon for Thanksgiving to be here.

For crying out loud, Christmas follows just about three weeks after that and I know I'm not ready for that season to be here.

Ah, but Thanksgiving, that most family of holidays, a time when kids return home from college, a time when relatives go great distances to spend a few days together.

A time when the Ettingers and McNeals haggle and wrangle over who will win, LSU or Arkansas. Yeah, our youngest daughter,?Amy, married Bobby Ettinger, a native of New Orleans, who is a graduate of LSU, as are his three brothers.

The first time we joined the Ettinger clan for Thanksgiving, it was Alice, Amy, Kerrie and Dave for the Hogs, and Bobby, Lee, Howard, Brian and the boys mom, Mal, for LSU.

It was a wonderful fest of cajun dishes and turkey and subtle but kind digs at each others teams. Okay, someone hung a toy stuffed Hog with a rope during halftime, right on the front of the television, but no Ettinger's claimed the deed. Yeah.

It was the year of the Miracle on Markham Street, when Matt Jones threw a touchdown pass at the end to steal a sure LSU victory from them. Our new relatives were speechless. Alice and I were not afflicted with that problem and danced around the living room, waving our un-hung Hog wildly.

Even with that slight burning the Tiger supporters we maintained the get-together the Thanksgiving after Hurricane Katrina, but not in New Orleans. Everyone went to Lee's home in Fort Walton Beach, Fla.

We were all happy everyone survived Katrina, but Mal and Brian both lost their homes in that disaster. Kinda took some of the fun out of harassing each other over a mere game.

Still, we ragged each other about the Hogs and Tigers, then all lined up in front of Lee's giant television to cheer for our teams. That one also didn't end up good for Arkansas.

We spent last Thanksgiving in New Orleans with Kerrie, as Alice and I were recovering from an asphalt diving experience from the seat of our motorcycle and couldn't make it to Florida.

I did manage to gimp to the table and load up on goodies, then had to watch another LSU?victory, sans sneaky sniping from the LSU guys, who were in Florida on the beach.

Sadly, we lost Mal this past year and will miss her sense of humor as the bantering begins. Arkansas is just 1-7-1 in Baton Rouge and that's where they play this Friday. We'll be in Texas this year, hanging with Alice's relatives, who are all about the Cowboys and Longhorns.

I've instructed Alice to save as many minutes as possible on her cell phone so I can call Florida and tease the brothers Ettinger before, during, and hopefully after the game.

Ah, Thanksgiving, that family time of year, when national championships hang in the balance and fans go a little berserk over football.

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