Thanksgiving and football have become synonymous with each other since 1934. You can have one without the other, but together we become bigger, faster, stronger…more powerful.
Today is a special day, and no man exemplified this more than John Madden. As we know, the Hall of Fame head coach instituted the Turkey Leg Award, and in 1989 the late great Reggie White took a bite out of the inaugural drumstick.
Like “The Minister Of Defense,” the majority of Turkey Leg winners were regular pro-bowl players, if not hall of famers…but what about the other guys?
The guys that had their crowning moment in their professional career on Thanksgiving day.
When the Lion’s number 20, Barry Sanders retired after 98’, someone had to attempt to fill his cleats…and that was number 21, Greg Hill in 99’.
Playing second fiddle to some of the league’s all-timer’s wasn’t foreign to Greg Hill. Drafted in the first round out of Texas A&M, Hill played Robin to Marcus Allen’s Batman from 94’-97’ in Kansas City.
After leaving Arrowhead, Hill signed for the Rams in 98’, and quickly found himself behind the depth chart to a guy named Marshall Faulk.
So to Greg Hill, stepping in for Barry Sanders on November 25th, 1999 against the Chicago Bears was a piece of pumpkin pie (the saying ends with cake, but pie plays with the holiday theme).
Hill toted the rock 19 times for 68 yards on Turkey Day, and hit pay-dirt with a 29-yard run to the house.
Greg Hill was cut after the 1999 season, he played 6 years in the NFL, Detroit being his last stop…hoisting the gobbler’s leg was his final farewell performance.
Brett Perriman’s 1995 Thanksgiving was a snap shot of his season. The slot receiver from The U, had his best statistical year in 95’, and his best statistical game that T-Day.
Perriman was a key cog in the receiving core that complemented the Barry Sanders rushing attack. Split out wide with Johnnie Morton and Herman Moore, he had 12 catches, and added some gravy and dressing, in the form of two touchdowns against the Vikings.
Perriman had a 9 year stint in the NFL. He’s currently 4th all-time in receptions for the Lions.
The first back-up quarterback that I can remember who seemed to find himself on a roster strictly because he graduated from an Ivy League school was Jason Garrett.
In case you didn’t know, Garrett went to Princeton, and found himself 3rd on the depth chart in 94’ for the Cowboys. On November 24th, Troy Aikman had a sprained knee, and Rodney Peete had a banged up thumb, so the red-head from Pennsylvania got the nod.
After throwing an early interception, which is a prerequisite to be a below average back-up. Garrett piled on the passing yards, tallying over 300, and adding two touchdowns to go with it.
Garrett was just fired from the Giants earlier this week. Before that, he was let go as the Cowboys head coach in 2019. Sure, he technically won two Super Bowls as a player, but he didn’t play in those games.
His coaching career has mirrored his playing, he’s stuck around for a long time without actually being any good…but he’ll always have that one day he played, and played well in 94'...even if Reggie White ate his lunch, Garrett still managed to make a plate for himself on Thanksgiving.