Weddings, anniversaries, handheld tv’s and national championships: A Thanksgiving tale

I’ve always hated going to weddings on important football weekends. Chalk it up to a conflict of interest. It’s bad enough most weddings already ridicule us single guys by gathering us into a circle of losers and making us pretend to want to catch a garter hurled into the crowd by the bride. While women scratch and claw to claim a flying bouquet in hopes of being the next one to wed, it’s just as common to see guys form a gaping hole around the dance floor where the bride’s garter lands unwanted.

One year, I was made to attend a wedding of some friends of a girl I was seeing at the time. To make matters worse, the reception coincided with a crucial Gator March Madness game. I didn’t like the couple that much to begin with and now they were making me miss my sacred hoops.

sony_watchman_1After the wedding, I stumbled around the hotel, looking for a television to catch some of the game, but there was not a set to be found. This was long before iPhones or streaming video invaded our lives. Fortunately, I brought my trusty, hand-held Sony Watchman so I was able to keep tabs on the score. Slyly, of course. I never pulled it out during the actual ceremony and yes, I got permission from my date before periodically sneaking away to feed the monkey. She wasn’t happy about it but she knew it was important to me. She was also an alum and understood my unhealthy addiction to all things Gator.

A group of partygoers ultimately surrounded me, also wanting to know the score. I mean, the wedding was in Florida and it was a big game.

Eventually, a gentleman in a tuxedo approached the group that had assembled around me, watched for a bit, then announced loudly that he went to Florida State and hated the Gators. A few cocktails in, I believe I politely told the guy to screw off. It wasn’t until later that evening that I found out he was the groom’s brother. Not one of my finer moments. Let’s just say I never heard the end of it from my date.

So as you can see, for me, weddings and big time sporting events have never mixed.

Well, in 1996, when my mother decided to marry the love of her life, the festivities were held on the Saturday evening of Thanksgiving weekend. You Gator fans know where I’m going with this. The wedding was lovely. It was the social event of the winter with well over 300 people in attendance. The only problem was…. it coincided with the biggest football game of the year: #1 Florida vs #2 Florida State.

uf-fsu-sackAlthough the rivalry has been one-sided lately with Florida winning the last five, in the mid-1990s, there were few other games on a national scale that matched the intensity of Spurrier v. Bowden. That year, both teams were undefeated. The game would determine who would play for a national championship. I mean, who in their right mind would plan a wedding at that time?

Fortunately, kickoff was in the afternoon and didn’t conflict with the evening’s festivities. The last thing I wanted to do was upset Mother of Sportschump on her most special day. So my uncle, step-father and I, all Florida graduates with cumber buns in place, huddled around the hotel room television to watch our undefeated Gators take on the hated Seminoles.

Both teams were loaded with NFL talent that year. Florida had Danny Wuerffel, Ike Hililard, Reidel Anthony, Jacquez Green, Fred Taylor, Fred Weary, Mike Peterson, Lawrence Wright and Jevon Kearse. Florida State had Warrick Dunn, Peter Boulware, Laveranues Coles, Snoop Minnis, Sam Cowart, Corey Simon, Samare Rolle, Peter Warrick and Greg Spires. Florida’s last loss was to Nebraska in the national championship game the year before. The only thing standing in their way of another attempt was the gritty garnet and gold.

Well, we lost to Florida State that day, 24-21, another heartbreaking loss at the hands of our arch-nemesis. Mom was concerned the events of that day would ruin my night. It was a bitter pill to swallow but not even the foul events that took place in Doak Campbell that afternoon could ruin the night that was to be. After all, I was giving my mom away later that evening to the man she would spend the rest of her life with.

pjd___mamacitaAs we all know, the story has a happy ending. The wedding was fabulous. We danced the night away and the Gators ultimately went on to exact revenge over Florida State only six weeks later to win their first national championship. More importantly, mom is still very happily married.

A friend asked me the other day what I am thankful for this Thanksgiving. Well, exactly that. I’m thankful for the health and happiness and my loving friends and family. I’m happy my mother found a man she can grow old with. All is good, very good. Of course, a few more Gator national championships didn’t hurt either.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone and to mom and John… a very happy anniversary.

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40 Replies to “Weddings, anniversaries, handheld tv’s and national championships: A Thanksgiving tale”

  1. Dude that was very touching……..WTF? I too know what it’s like to feel thirst. Just kidding. Happy Thanksgiving. I feel very blessed as well. Great article.

  2. Hey Rev,
    First things first. Happy anniversary to your mom and her husband.
    Second, I have a similar story about that day. A friend of mine invited my wife and I to speak at his daughter’s bat mitzvah about the same time as kick off. Fortunetly the reception featured a bar that had a large screen t.v. I got there just in time to see Warrick Dunn break off a long run to seal the win.
    Happy Thanksgiving my friend. Oh yea, one more thing. GO GATORS!

  3. Aer and Frank….

    Happy Thanksgiving to two of my favorite Foxbloggers. Hope you guys are happy and healthy.

    Oh yeah, another thing I’m thankful for. Warrick Dunn no longer plays for the Seminoles.

  4. Chris

    And here was I under the impression that the primary reason for a single guy to attend a wedding , was to see how many bridesmaids would be fair game on the day? I mean if you’ve got either a Watchman with you- do they still make those things ? Or if you take along with your mini notebook computer you can’t go wrong. Just as long as you’re not being intimate with one of the bridesmaids while at the same time trying to watch a game.

    Who can forget Sonny Corleone nailin’ one the bridesmaids at his sister Connie’s wedding ? Now that’s how you ‘do the do’ !

    Alan Parkins

  5. Chris

    So I’m to assume that both you and your step-dad are die-hard Gator fans ? I’d hate for there to be conflict between the two of you ! And then your mother having to intervene and choose sides . My husband or my son ? Oh what a choice to have to make !

    Alan Parkins

  6. Al… I think you can probably land one of those Watchmen on eBay for under five bucks.

    But when I write on the road, I go old school. Notepad and pen and I’m good. That way there’s no need for me to seek out an outlet. Particularly when there’s bridesmaids in the mix.

    James Caan. Nice.

  7. Al… the step-dad is also a Gator although he does have credit hours at both Florida State and Virginia Tech. But when it comes to head-to-head matchups, he’s a Gator through and through.

    I mean, c’mon, dude. You know Mother of Sportschump has taste.

  8. Al… I just left a comment on your Mavs piece.

    As you might have imagined, Kris Humphries is my new favorite player in the NBA. Perhaps I should arrange an interview.

    I fully expected the Mavs to be one of the best teams in the league… during the regular season. I don’t think they can hang with either Denver, L.A., or perhaps San Anton in June.

    I’ll be sure to exclude that sentiment from my interview with Humphries as I doubt he’s reading.

  9. Chris

    You mother had to have good taste afterall she gave birth to you didn’t she ? And I’d dare say your step-dad got hot under the collar the first time he set eyes on her ?

    Are you sure that the Mavs’ Kris Humpheries mightn’t be a distant relative of yours ?

    The Mavs are just a good regular season team. Had the Spurs been at full strength in the playoffs against them. Then the end result would’ve been decidedly different altogether !

    Word just in Muammar Ghaddafi doesn’t want Weis to coach the University of Tripoli’s football team. He says he’s rather have one of Bin Laden’s offspring do the job rather than Weis. LOL,LOL,LOL !!!!

    Alan Parkins

  10. Chris

    Speaking of The Godfather …. It’s being shown in its entirety tomorrow the complete trilogy. I’ll probably watch it rather and just use my mini-notebook to watch the NFL games. The guys and our respective other halves will be in Daytona Beach at a friend’s condo there.

    Those of us who don’t own crotch rocket, have had to hire one as we’re riding over there , rather than driving. We leave later on this evening.

    Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and my immediate regards to you and the entire family ! Stay safe and don’t over do it on the turkey or drinking front. I’d hate for you to miss the Lions playing on Thanksgiving Day . LOL,LOL,LOL !!! What’s a guy gonna do if they can’t watch the Lions ? Watch the damn Cowboys ?

    Alan Parkins

  11. There’s a typo. It should read “Although the rivalry has been one-sided lately with Florida State winning the last five”, not “with Florida winning the last five”

  12. Al… we’re all brothers somewhere along the line. I like the addition of Humphries to the Dallas roster. He’ll provide the team with some well-needed SportsKHump toughness.

  13. Al… what channel is the Godfather trilogy being aired on? A&E? Nothing like some healthy family love movies on Turkey Day, huh? I’m pretty fluent on my 1&2 trivia but could give III another looksee.

    Best holiday wishes to you too, man.

  14. Chris

    I believe it’s being shown on AMC. Either way it’s still well worth watching even if part three as such was lost somewhere in translation. Sofia Coppola’s acting borders on Paris Hilton’s IQ in terms of equivalence.

    Now don’t get mad I’m only the messenger here not the orator.

    Courtesy of Yahoo Sport and the comments of former Canes and Cowboys’ coach Jimmy Johnson.

    Jimmy Johnson; Tebow not a Pro-style quarterback

    Florida’s Tim Tebow does not have what it takes to be a successful quarterback in the NFL, Fox NFL analyst and former NFL and college coach Jimmy Johnson told Sporting News Radio’s Todd Wright.

    “I don’t think Tebow can play in a pro-style offense, not [at] quarterback,” Johnson said. “I think a team that’s gonna look at Tim Tebow. They’re gonna make one of two decisions. If they’re going to bring him into their style of play, with their coaching staff, they’ve gotta project him to be maybe an H-back.

    “I don’t know if he’s fast enough to be a receiver, maybe he could be a tight end. [But] I don’t know if he can block, I don’t know if he can catch the ball. But he’s gotta play another position. He can’t play quarterback.”

    Johnson’s theory on Tebow is in stark contrast to that of Tony Dungy, who said that if he were calling the personnel shots for an NFL team, he would draft Tebow ahead of any other college quarterback.

    ”If you’re gonna take Tim Tebow, and you’re gonna say, ‘OK, I’m gonna have him be our quarterback,’ you might as well get rid of your coaching staff and hire a spread-offense coach,” Johnson said. “So bring in a new coaching staff. Bring in Urban Meyer with him and run that style of offense if he’s going to be your quarterback, because he can’t play in a pro-style offense.”


    Am I mistaken but other Aikman in the NFL has Johnson won anything with any other qb in the NFL ? I mean he and Marino didn’t do a damn thing. Now he’s opening his pie-hole merely because he wants to say something asinine.

    Hey Jimmy stick to making an a_s of yourself on Fox. That beatdown 65-5 (Jags-Dolphins) that you drove you out of the NFL must’ve fu_ked up your brain cells !

    Alan Parkins

  15. Let’s just say I prefer the adulterated version of the Godfather. But Godfather I is certainly more watchable than the Lions so I may tune in. This one time I’ll let you ask me about my business.

    Re: Tebow, they’ve been saying that for years. Coming out of high school, critics also said he wouldn’t succeed in the SEC. Guess they were wrong.

    Now while the NFL is clearly a different animal and Tebow holds the ball too low and never snaps it out of a pro set, I think most of us should have learned better than to doubt this kid.

  16. Chris

    I no longer give credence to anything that the likes of Johnson or Bradshaw has to say. These guys basically are dead from the neck up , in terms of their intelligence.

    I watched Righteous Kill recently and was somewhat disappointed in it. Given that it was the first time that De Niro and Pacino had acted together , since they did the crime caper movie , Heat. That was another of those Michael Mann movies that rank right up there in terms of a taut tense drama and being a well acted ensemble piece.

    I’ll probably flit in and out of the Godfather Pt III.

    Alan Parkins

  17. I love the sentimental side of you coming out. Your mom and papa john are an inspiration. They are happy and the Gators are undefeated…….priceless.

  18. WOW! That was an amazing post. You KNOW you made me cry.
    Thanks for your kind words & as always, excellent writing.
    And thanks to all Sportschump friends & fellow-bloggers for your well wishes & kindness.
    And just for the record … there is no competition. Everyone who knows me … KNOWS that Chris is my first love. That never changes. Papa-Johnny-D & the Gators follow.
    Happy Thanksgiving friends of Sportschump 🙂

  19. Ath… thanks and happy holidays. I’ll have a What to Watch coming out shortly but I didn’t include Georgia-Georgia Tech on it just because the Dawgs have had such a disappointing season. I do actually like them in this game though.

    I had totally not heard about the PETA story. Thanks for the link. I think these guys have gone too far. Are they ragging on Texas for using the steer, too?

    Let me know if you write a piece on it.

  20. Chris

    I know that the Kipers and McShays out there will think that the likes of Clausen, McCoy are the safe bets in terms of being NFL ready quarterbacks. But what they haven’t got is what Tebow has hands down . And that’s the intangibles and above all else leadership skills. And those are the thing that cannot be taught.

    I trust that you and the immediate family had a wonderful Thanksgiving ? No doubt you’ll be hitting the shops if not today then Saturday in search of your post Black Friday bargains ?

    All three NFL games yesterday , were horrendous ! It was about as entertaining as having a rectal exam by the proctologist. Thanks but no thanks, one finger wave in my rectum is enough for the year ! I don’t need an additional three dosages all in one day , courtesy of the NFL !

    Alan Parkins

  21. Chris

    ‘nough already ! Now former Georgetown coach John Thompson as well as Bobcats’ coach Larry Brown both want to sit down with AI and have him rethink his position about retiring. For one Brown ain’t gonna have him come and play for the Bobcats. And two , I doubt that Iverson wants to go back to college and play for Thompson’s son and the Hoyas. But stranger things have been known to have happened and will happen.

    If all else fails AI could become become Juwana Man and go play in the WNBA . Wha’dya think about that then ?
    Could get really interesting come time for when they have to go to the showers ?

    Alan Parkins

  22. Al… I actually think the lost QB in all this is Tony Pike. That mid-season injury dropped him out of the Top Five but I think he’s a fantastic pro prospect.

    Unfortunately, the Bucs won’t be drafting a QB next season.

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