- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 25, 2004

What did sports fans do on Thanksgiving weekend before the invention of television? Go to turkey races? Pumpkin-smashing contests? Leaf-raking exhibitions? Nowadays, of course, all you need is a La-Z-Boy and a clicker — and your cable provider does the rest. From Thursday through Sunday, we’re bombarded with all manner of sporting endeavor, everything from the Bayou Classic (Grambling vs. Southern) to the World Series of Poker to live coverage of Gary Sheffield’s shoulder operation.

OK, maybe not that last one.

As for me, I’m anxiously awaiting tomorrow’s airing of “Back to School” (3 p.m., Comedy Central). That’s the film in which Rodney Dangerfield successfully executes the most difficult springboard dive ever attempted, the Triple Lindy. It’s also the film in which he tells a barmaid, “Bring us a pitcher of beer every seven minutes until somebody passes out. And then bring one every 10 minutes.”

Anyway, here’s one man’s viewing guide for the fun-filled four days ahead:

TODAY

• 12:30 p.m., CBS — Indianapolis Colts at Detroit Lions. Will the Lions survive the aerial assault of Peyton Manning and Co.? Will the Colts survive the Detroit crowd?

• 4:15 p.m., Fox — Chicago Bears at Dallas Cowboys. Neither team has much to play for, especially since John Madden won’t be around to hand out turkey legs.

• 8 p.m., TNT — The Minnesota Timberwolves travel to Indiana to face two-thirds of the Indiana Pacers.

TOMORROW

• 1:30 a.m., Comcast Sports Net — Replay of Maryland’s 55-6 skunking by Virginia Tech (for those Terps fans into self-flagellation).

• 10:45 a.m., American Movie Classics — “The Longest Yard,” prison football classic starring Burt Reynolds. My favorite part is when Burt’s character, trying to put together a team of inmates, approaches a hard case known as “the Indian.”

Burt: “Heard you played some football.”

The Indian: “Yeah.”

Burt: “Where?”

The Indian: “Oklahoma State.”

Burt: “Oklahoma State U.?”

The Indian: “Prison.”

• Noon, ABC — College football, Colorado at Nebraska. A great matchup … three years ago, when the two teams played in BCS bowls. But right now, both programs are in the Dumpster. Why, just this week, Colorado’s AD resigned, a victim of the Stripper Scandal, and a Nebraska offensive lineman was charged with felony assault in Oklahoma for an incident in which a member of an OU student spirit group was knocked unconscious.

Not to worry, though, ‘Huskers coach Bill Callahan says. The lineman in question “will be eligible to play [against the Buffaloes]. Yes, he will. He will not be suspended.”

Reason enough to tune in.

• 4 p.m., USA — Second round of the inaugural Korea Golf Championship. Players you’ve never heard of compete in a tournament you don’t care about for a $1 million first prize.

• 4:30 p.m., ESPN2 — Consolation game of the Preseason NIT. It doesn’t get any better than this.

• 9 p.m., ESPN2 — Maryland and Memphis square off in the Hall of Fame Tip-off Classic in Springfield, Mass. The Turtles’ last loss was to Syracuse (by two points in last year’s NCAA tournament). The Tigers’ last loss was also to Syracuse (by 15 points in this year’s Coaches vs. Cancer Classic). Ergo, I’m picking Maryland by 13.

• 10 p.m., Cinemax — “Seabiscuit.” Heartwarming story of an undersized Depression-era racehorse whose victories captivate the country. Featuring Tobey Maguire, the world’s biggest jockey.

SATURDAY

• 1 p.m., ABC — College football, No. 16 Virginia at No. 11 Virginia Tech. How cool would it be if Tech, after years of being shunned, won the ACC title in its first season in the conference?

c4:30, ABC — Skins Game. Golfers you have heard of compete in an event you shouldn’t care about (but strangely do) for $1 million in prize money. (Now that I think about it, it would have been much more appropriate if ABC had had Nicolette Sheridan do a lead-in to the Skins Game. Too bad John Daly isn’t entered. Not only would he have gladly caught barebacked Nicolette, he probably would have written a country western song about it — something along the lines of “Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Desperate Housewives.”)

• 10 p.m., ESPN — Final of the Great Alaska Shootout (motto: The temperature’s the same here as at the Maui Invitational — 29 degrees — only with us it’s Fahrenheit, and with them it’s Celsius).

SUNDAY

• 1 p.m., Fox — Washington Redskins at Pittsburgh Steelers. Fearless prediction: On the Redskins’ first offensive play, Patrick Ramsey will drop back, complete a 15-yard pass to Laveranues Coles and — to Joe Gibbs’ disbelief — live to tell about it. Midway through the third quarter, Coach Joe will let Ramsey do it again.

• 4:15 p.m., NFL Sunday Ticket — Miami Dolphins at San Francisco 49ers. I’m surprised they’re not trying to build this one up by telling us, “It’s the first time in pro football history that two 1-9 clubs have met this late in the season.”

One last thing: According to ESPN.com, there are now 339 NFL players who weigh 300 pounds or more.

Something tells me, though, that there’ll be at least 340 by the end of the weekend. Bon appetit!

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