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By Vic Clevenger

Football Traditions


Last updated 11/5/2018 at 10:06am | View PDF

Every Thanksgiving our family had a tradition which lasted only a few years but left a lasting impression on this Kentucky boy. For those new to this page and new to me (where have you been?) allow me to let you into my past a little. I grew up in eastern Kentucky across the river from West Virginia and about an hour away from the famed Hatfield & McCoy family disagreement. My grandfather would always say, “Kentucky is home of fast horses and beautiful women.” But if you know anything about Kentucky, the people from the Bluegrass enjoy good bourbon, love Loretta Lynn (she’s also from KY) and revere the Wildcats.

When I was a baby bourbon was rubbed on a baby’s gums when they were teething to numb the pain and helped the baby get a good night’s sleep relieving the parents a little as well (modern parents use Benadryl I’ve been told). Kentucky has the historic bourbon trail where tourists come from all around the world just to see where this nectar is born. Then throw in Bluegrass music along with the Country Music Highway and you can see why we love Loretta Lynn, Bill Monroe Dwight Yoakam and the king of the cowboys, Roy Rogers was born in Ohio just across the river where I grew up. We joke you can’t leave the state even for a vacation without signing your undying reverence for the University of Kentucky Wildcats, more specifically UK Basketball.

Although I live in Florida now (because you don’t have to shovel sunshine) I still cheer for my ‘Cats. Living here, however, I have to put up with those Florida Gators and the Florida State Seminoles especially during the fall (or what passes for fall here) when it’s football season. You see, I’m still a fan of UK even during football season and if you follow college football you’ll understand that statement completely. When these fans down here start bragging about national championships and top 10 national rankings my best retort is, “Just wait until basketball season.” Yep, that’s the best this BBQing comedian can come up with.

Yet when football season starts you’ll still see me parked (when I can) in front of my TV watching college football still with hope UK will have a great season. It’s the number 1 ranking we received once under the tutelage of Bear Bryant which gives us the glimmer of glory but until then, we had to rely on other means of hope for football. Which brings me right back to Thanksgiving traditions with the family back in Kentucky. Every year behind my grandparents’ home, we would gather to play a great game of football. Dad’s, brothers, playing quarterback throwing spirals which would rival Doug Flutie’s 1984 hail Mary “Miracle in Miami.” Well, that’s what it looked like to a little boy charged with guarding his cousin, with whom I’d “fight” almost every play.

As the college football season begins, we no longer play our annual backyard football games (leave your old jokes at the door) but this is when those memories come flooding back. The family get-togethers, the tailgating parties when I was in college, and the road trips with buddies I still stay in touch with all revolve around this season, this sport. As I await my grandson’s birth, I anticipate getting him the little UK jersey, the plastic football and sharing with him my love for this sport.


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