As much as I love this holiday – the wonderful merger of football and food – it makes me realize that we are now in the waning moments of another great football season. Yeah, bowl season is right around the corner, and the NFL lumbers on until February, but I know in my heart of hearts that the end is near.
On this day of remembrance, let me give a few Thanksgiving Day thanks to:
1. The Tampa Bay Rays. Their incredible season is the number one sports story in Florida this year. The team didn’t win it all, but the Rays have so much young talent that you know they will be in the running again next season.
2. The Wildcat offense. It hasn’t worked to perfection every game, but the Miami Dolphins came up with the number one wrinkle for the NFL this year. Now it seems every other team in the league has tried to emulate it. Will it put the Dolphins in the Super Bowl? No, but it’s one of the reasons that the Dolphins have turned into a legitimate playoff contender this year.
3. Chad Pennington. He’s the other reason that the Dolphins have fared so well this season. There’s no way you can blame the N.Y. Jets for picking up Brett Favre when the team had the chance. But it’s a been a godsend for a team that has been wandering in the wilderness when it comes to consistent quarterback play. Pennington – with his efficient play and steady demeanor – fits in exactly with a team that wants to grind it out and play tough defense.
4. Florida Gators. A jaw-dropping, mind-numbing offensive juggernaut. It’s not just Tim Tebow, it’s everybody. Speed kills. I just can’t conceive anyone beating them the rest of the season.
5. Warrick Dunn and Jeff Garcia. Yeah, maybe both of them are past their prime, but they get it done week in and week out. If the Tampa Bay Buccaneers stay on this hot streak and make the playoffs, it will be because of these veterans.