Colbert: My Turkey Bowl experience
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.
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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Buttermilk Ski Area already is scheduled to host the world’s best at ESPN’s X Games this coming week, while it was recently announced Aspen Highlands will host alpine skiing’s NorAm finals later this spring.