My First Vivid NFL Memory: The Thanksgiving Classic of '98

Justin ThomasContributor INovember 24, 2008

I was born into a family that does not really care about sports.  I know, it is sad for me because I am a huge sports fan.

I remember, vaguely, the Steelers losing to the Cowboys in the '96 Super Bowl and I decided since I knew nothing of football that I would be a Steelers fan. I had no clue of such tradition in the Steelers franchise at the time.

So with Thanksgiving coming up in just a few days, many people look forward to Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, family get-togethers, and good food.  As for me, every time I think of Thanksgiving my mind goes back to my late grandfather's house. 

We were all sitting around and he was trying to keep me quiet, being the rowdy 11-year-old I was. He put the TV on the Steelers/Lions game. I was watching and didn't really know what happened...neither did the guys on TV, I came to find out.

It was so funny to me as a younger kid. I was watching and laughing while people were like, "No, I said Heads. No, I said Tails." I believe Jerome Bettis even had a sign that said heads if I'm not mistaken. 

It was my first real sports memory. It was the Thanksgiving Classic. It propelled me into being a huge Steelers fan despite the 19-16 OT loss in Detroit while my turkey and dressing was settling.

So now ten years later, the Steelers do not play on Thanksgiving, but the memory still lives with me. 

The whole thought of being in my grandfather's house, smelling his famous chicken and dumplings, the smell of cigarette smoke from all the men, coffee brewing, and sitting on the couch and having my first NFL memory are still with me.

If there is one thing he left with me, unintentionally, it would be my passion for football. 

So this year, I will sit in my house and try to fight my mom (who hates football) for the remote while she is trying to watch "Jesus of Nazereth," again for the 40th time. I will beg while eating that nice slice of pecan pie for just five minutes of what will probably be the worst game ever played with the Lions being winless this year.

Although people pass on, and some teams can never win, my memory on my grandfather's couch will never leave me. 

If you have a memory you would like to share, by all means share it because memories are what keep those who have passed alive in our hearts. That's what I'm doing by writing this article.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Enjoy your families!