Colbert: My Turkey Bowl experience
November 25, 2016
Thanksgiving is about giving thanks. And eating — lots of eating.
Normally, there also would be lots of skiing, but Mother Nature had other plans for us this year. Remaining is America's other great Thanksgiving pastime: football.
Friday, with bellies still full of turkey and stuffing, the Aspen High School football team hosted the inaugural "Skier Turkey Bowl" at the AHS athletic field. Roughly 30 players, with a sprinkling of fans, got together for some flag football in what I hope becomes an annual tradition.
Normally nothing more than an unbiased observer at sporting events these days, I decided to put aside the reporter's notebook and put on my cleats — well, trail-running shoes, which is all I have — to join in the revelry. The four teams included mostly current and former players, with the team I played on being mostly AHS coaches. Our team name seemed to be "The Old Guys," which after the three-game round robin became, "The Turkey Bowl Champions."
It's probably been 10 years, going back to my freshman year of college at Kansas State University, since I legitimately played flag football. It also took a lot of willpower to drag myself out of bed Friday morning for the 11 a.m. "kickoff" — we probably didn't start playing until 11:45 — Thursday night's festivities still weighing me down.
Truth be told, I thought we'd lose every game. There were too many young, fit kids on the field, and most of my teammates were long past their playing days. Then there was me, a professional writer, deadly with pen and paper, but as useful on the turf as Tony Romo has been with the Dallas Cowboys this season.
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But, after dispatching our first two opponents — I made a couple grabs, a few tackles — my team met up with a team comprised of former members of an Aspen football team that spent some weeks ranked No. 1 in the state only a handful of years ago.
While we didn't have the raw speed — outside of AHS assistant coach James Aldridge, a former Notre Dame running back — the snowy, slippery surface kept the game speed to a minimum. This was particularly great for me, as speed is certainly not a skill I harness.
I didn't score a touchdown in any of the three games, but I did make what might have been the play of the day in the championship game, so I'm going to brag about it a little bit. We led by a score late in the second half and our opponent had one final down to make it one yard for a touchdown. Needing a goal-line stand to preserve our lead, it was a big play.
The first mistake by the opposing team was being a little too loud in the huddle (for the record, I don't think our team huddled even once). I clearly heard them mention their need to run the ball, a smart choice from the 1-yard line. Only, you should make sure the opposing defense doesn't know your plan. So, I crept up to the line of scrimmage, avoided a fairly weak block attempt, and yanked the runner's flag from his belt in the backfield.
It was about the only significant play I made all day — and probably the most significant play of my entire football career — but it was a play that probably won us the game. We never scored again, but neither did they. We won by a touchdown, went 3-0 in the tournament, and "The Old Guys," which included AHS head coach Karson Pike, were the inaugural Turkey Bowl champions.
Afterward, I went home, had lunch and took a nice, long nap. Because, more than anything, daytime, full-bellied naps are truly what Thanksgiving is all about.
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