This year on Thanksgiving, players from the Titans, Lions, Seahawks, Cowboys, Cardinals and Eagles will be at work instead of eating turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes with their families. But when they were kids, many of them were outside playing ball on Thanksgiving just for fun. Now they get to play in one of only three NFL games on Turkey Day.
Some of these players shared with us what it means to be playing on Thanksgiving. Here's what they had to say:
Julian Peterson, LB, Seattle: "It'll be my first one, so it'll be a wonderful experience for myself and hopefully I can walk away with a turkey leg." [Laughs.]
Deon Grant, S, Seattle: "Oh, it's big. It's the first time. We're usually playing around Thanksgiving weekend, but playing on Thanksgiving Day, it's real big. It's a real 'Turkey Bowl' now. Before, it used to be something we did as youngsters, but now I'm playing in the actual Turkey Bowl, so it's really big. "
Bobby Engram, WR, Seattle: "It's a special honor. Obviously there's only a couple a year and they kind of rotate the teams. I've played on [Thanksgiving] a few times when I was in Chicago, and it was always a special day because as a kid, you grow up and you watch it…and then to be able to play and have my kids watch, I think that's special. "
Tradition of giving
Recognizing the spirit of giving that permeates Thanksgiving and the major commitment that the NFL and all its teams are making to impact the health of youth and families across the country, the league is focusing its attention throughout the Thanksgiving holiday and weekend on NFL PLAY 60. For the first time ever, the NFL will provide fans the chance to be part of the campaign by encouraging them to support national and local non-profit organizations that have joined in our efforts to make communities more active and healthy.
Be sure to check out NFL.com/Thanksgiving throughout the holiday weekend for more details.
Julius Jones, RB, Seattle: "Well, I've played two [Thanksgiving] games against my brother, my rookie year and last year. That was extremely special, me and him playing against each other in that game. It was just crazy because we always watched the games and then we went outside and played our own game. Now, maybe there were kids doing the same thing but they were watching us. Thanksgiving is always a special game. I'm thankful to be playing the sport that I love on a day of thanks. "
Mike Wahle, G, Seattle: "Well, I mean, growing up and watching it so often, it's definitely one of those things that's bittersweet in some ways because it's a short week for us and it's difficult -- I've played in a couple already -- but knowing that everyone's going to be watching you and you have to kind of show your best, that part is definitely exciting."
Bobby Carpenter, LB, Dallas: "That's huge. There's only six teams that play, with three games going on, and it's something that's very important that's on national television and is a tradition that has been going on for years. It's also special to me because my father even played on Thanksgiving as well, and anybody that does play in it always remembers it."
Kevin Mawae, C, Tennessee: "It's just special. It's a tradition. In 15 years I've never played on Thanksgiving before. I'm looking forward to it; everybody in the country watches the game. I think it's only second to the Monday night game, or it probably is an even bigger tradition than the Monday night game is, so it's going to be exciting and I'm looking forward to it."
Alge Crumpler, TE, Tennessee: "I've played in a few Thanksgiving games and it means a lot. One, because I've always felt like it's a Thanksgiving tradition to one, be with family and two, watch football. Even if you're not a big fan of football, at some point, you're going to sit down on the couch and watch football with the guys. Even if that's not what you do, you're going to watch football, because it's Thanksgiving Day."
Ryan Nece, LB, Detroit: "It's a privilege. There are only a few teams that get the opportunity and obviously the Detroit Lions have a history of doing that so it's exciting. Everyone in the country is going to be enjoying themselves and I'm thankful for what I do. It's a blessing."
Stewart Bradley, LB, Philadelphia: "It really makes me thankful for all of the things that I have in my life and thankful for being given the opportunity to play in a game like this. "