Ah, Thanksgiving.It's a time to pile your plate as high as the Leaning Tower of Pisa, poke fun at your sister's new boyfriend and talk football with your uncle - the fact that he doesn't know Tony Romo from Tony Roma (the rib guy) is inconsequential. It's a time to sit back and watch your aunt polish off a bottle of red wine, then re-enact scenes from "A Christmas Story." It's a time to eat yourself into a tryptophan-induced coma, then doze off on the couch - just make sure you wake up by 5 a.m. so you can take advantage of all those sales. I've got my eye on a Red Sox crockpot and a limited edition Gary Payton 'Ove' Glove. Yes, there is a veritable cornucopia of reasons to be thankful this year. I'm sure our lists aren't all that different. I'm thankful for family, friends, co-workers and good health. I'm thankful for Led Zeppelin's reunion, Steven Seagal movie marathons (his performance in "Under Siege" may be the single most seminal work in cinematic history - that or Shaq in "Kazaam"), and dollar taco night at Cooper Street. I'm thankful I survived my glasses-braces-bowl cut-dandruff phase in eighth grade. I'm thankful the college football season is nearing the finish line. If Syracuse and Notre Dame lose any more games, I might have to go into hiding. I need a new rooting interest - I'm considering bowling or amateur mutton busting. I'm thankful for rivalries. Nothing epitomizes holiday spirit quite like dusting off the "Kick 'em in the Crouch" T-shirt and boning up on a few time-honored jokes (the N on the Nebraska helmet stands for knowledge, in case you were curious) for the annual CU-Nebraska tussle. Nothing says Thanksgiving quite like Knox College and Monmouth's battle for the Bronze Turkey Trophy. My favorite has to be Augsburg College versus Hamline University. Why? The winner of the annual fracas takes home a trophy named The Hammer. I'm thankful Kansas coach Mark Mangino wasn't invited to dinner Thursday. I'm thankful I didn't have a hand in developing the Bowl Championship Series. The so-called savior currently has LSU and Kansas pegged to meet in New Orleans in January. Excuse me if I'm not jumping out of my seat and hootin' and hollerin'. I'd rather go to Pauly Shore's birthday party than see the Tigers play the Jayhawks.I'm thankful I'm not Michael Vick. The embattled quarterback voluntarily began serving time Monday - he must've heard sweet potato pie was on the jail's Thanksgiving Day menu. Enjoy the new uniform, Mike, and watch out for the blitz.I'm thankful T.O. shut up.I'm thankful Scott Boras finally got his just desserts - and they didn't taste like mom's pumpkin pie. Tigers pitcher Kenny Rogers, who I'm certain is as old as Larry King, recently decided he was better off negotiating his own contract and fired his super agent. Apparently, Boras is harder to deal with than jock itch. I'm thankful I'm not Barry "Bail" Bonds, who will receive his Christmas present - a federal indictment - a few weeks early this year (and you thought the knitted sweater and matching scarf from grandma was disappointing). If I were Barry, I would've used this holiday to do some good. He could've volunteered at a soup kitchen, helped decorate his church with garland or offered up his swollen cranium to headline the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. My apologies Snoopy.I'm thankful that, while my sisters don't know a pick and roll from a dinner roll, they are willing to indulge my obsession this time of year. They're seemingly happy to sit and watch the Lions lose another one on Turkey Day, or Centenary battle Drexel in the Great Alaska Shootout. I appreciate the sacrifice, guys. Above all, I'm thankful you've read this far. I know it's not because you're enamored with my cleverly-crafted prose. You're probably just trying to avoid your in-laws for a few fleeting moments. I'm glad I could help. Jon Maletz, a.ka. "The Hammer," hopes you ate, drank and were merry. E-mail him at email@example.com.
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