Thanksgiving Weekend has always been a somewhat bittersweet time for many football fans. There is an avalanche of games on TV, starting with the NFL games on Thanksgiving Day, followed by a couple dozen rivalry games (e.g. Alabama-Auburn, Cal-Stanford) on Friday and Saturday, and then wrapped up with more pro games on Sunday.
In the old days (like last year), fans could sit down for the early game and watch the Detroit Lions rip the hearts out of their fans by losing—AT HOME—to whomever. This, despite the huge advantage they have playing at home. (The visiting team generally gets only one day of practice, with Wednesday being a travel day.) The Lions actually started the tradition of playing on Thanksgiving back in 1934. Since then, they are a sad 37-41-1 on Thanksgiving. The Cowboys have a winning record on that day, but not a spectacular one, going a so-so 31-21-1.
In our household, if the Cowboys lose, the turkey isn’t dry, the gravy has no lumps, and (if you put enough jalapeño juice in it) the stuffing tastes like something other than cardboard.
In most years, the highlight of the weekend for most Tucsonans is the Arizona-Arizona State football game—sometimes on Friday afternoon, sometimes on Saturday night, but always mandatory viewing. However, in the year of COVID—when the usually wonderfully sweet is sour and the usually delightfully sour is bitter—Arizona is scheduled to play at UCLA. That is, unless there is an outbreak of the virus on one or both teams. ASU is scheduled to play Utah, but both of those teams have already had two consecutive games cancelled because of outbreaks. So, YUCK!
Fortunately, in these worst of times, we have a holiday treat, a light and fluffy sporting event (emphasis heavily on event and much less so on sport). On Friday (Nov. 27), the entire nation will be treated to a made-for-TV event being held at the exclusive Stone Canyon Golf Club in beautiful uptown Oro Valley. Capital One’s The Match: Champions For Change will feature a modified alternate shot match play pitting the team of future NFL Hall of Famer Peyton Manning and two-time NBA Most Valuable Player Steph Curry against one of the most-popular (and sometimes least-popular) golfers of all time, Phil Mickelson, and his partner, Basketball Hall of Famer Charles Barkley.
Mickelson, who also happens to own the Stone Canyon course, is a golfing legend, but he went to ASU, so nobody can root for him. He is somewhat entertaining because he has a tendency to go all “Tin Cup” at times, attempting to make the one perfect shot when two average shots would have won him a championship.
Steph Curry, who is one of the few people in history to have single-handedly changed the way the game of basketball is played, is reportedly a scratch golfer. Peyton Manning makes really engaging commercials, but they’re so funny, it’s hard to remember what product he’s pitching.
But the real star of this extravaganza will be Charles Barkley. One of the greatest basketball players of all time, Barkley is a freakishly talented athlete who quite probably could have had a stellar career in the NFL as a tight end. But put a golf club in his hands and it becomes a Michael Bay movie, disaster after disaster with all kinds of exploding stuff.
Have you ever seen the scene of Elaine Benes (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) attempting to dance on “Seinfeld?” Her friend George describes it as a “full-body dry heave.” You can watch it online. It’s so infamous that if you just type “E-l-a…” it will pop up.
After watching the absolutely horrifying dance scene, please know that she is Baryshnikov compared to Charles Barkley swinging a golf club. It’s truly bizarre watching how bad he is. But you can’t take your eyes off it. He’s simply awful.
Instead of being the Round Mound of Rebound, he’s the Stiff Biff of Whiff. The Mad Lad of Oh-So-Bad. The Stout Lout of…WATCH OUT!!
At the same time, it’s somewhat encouraging to weekend golfers. It’s like “Well, as long as Chuck is alive, I’m not the WORST golfer in the world.”
The Match will seek to draw attention to diversity, inclusion and equality and will provide donations to Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Curry has already provided funding to establish women’s and men’s golf teams at Howard University, the Washington D.C. school that boasts famous alumni that includes author Toni Morrison, gone-far-too-soon Chadwick Boseman, and newly elected Vice-President of the United States Kamala Harris. Curry also got corporate partners Callaway to donate clubs for the teams and Under Armour to outfit the athletes.
Curry has thus far been unable to find anybody who can help with Barkley’s swing.
The Match is Friday at 1 p.m. on TNT.
Isaiah Roebuck, whom we mentioned briefly last week, was nominated for the Ed Doherty Award given to the top prep football player in Arizona. In a game against Walden Grove last week, the Marana senior had six catches for 206 yards and three touchdowns. Then, on defense, he had 10 tackles, a pass interception and a fumble recovery…In this strangest of seasons with COVID cancellations and shifting schedules, the football teams of Ironwood Ridge, Mountain View, Canyon Del Oro, and Marana have a combined record of 5-6.