As we embark on a tradition of food, family and football this Thursday, this WBOB Sports writer has compiled his own personal list of ten things to be thankful for. It may not be a six-legged half turkey, half duck, and half chicken, however this sports writer has a cornucopia of reasons to be thankful this holiday season.
10. Backup Quarterbacks: This Monday’s matchup features two teams, in the Bears and the 49ers, who have Super Bowl aspirations. Last week both starting quarterbacks Alex Smith and Jay Cutler went down with concussions. Thankfully both teams have solid backups in Jason Campbell and Colin Kaepernick, salvaging at least some hope that this week’s game won't be a battle between two Super Bowl defenses plus David Akers vs. Robbie Gould.
9. Celtic Shooting Guards: With Avery Bradley coming off of offseason shoulder surgery, and Ray Allen taking his talents to south beach, the Celtics have received a great infusion of depth with Jason Terry, Barbosa, and Lee. If and when Bradley comes back, the Celtics will have a surplus of talent at the shooting guard position. Which is a great relief considering after Ray on shoe string ankles and Bradley with one shoulder, the only 2 guard the C's had at their disposal was journey man Keyon Dooling.
8. Refs Back to Work: Maybe the NFL refs aren't perfect, however it's great to see the pro's back to work on a consistent basis, instead of a bunch of glorified wine tasters having the final say in a sport which is a multimedia conglomerate.
7. Carson Palmer: If you're like me and have been handcuffed by the slumping Cam Newton as your fantasy QB, you have been probably frantically searching the waiver wire for a diamond in the rough. Well look no further than Raiders QB Carson Palmer. One of the least talked about stories in sports has been the remarkably consistent play of the Bengals former signal caller. I recently traded for Palmer in one of my leagues, who believe it or not, has as many points as comeback player of the year and MVP candidate Peyton Manning. Although the Raiders are not exactly pilling up wins, the play of Palmer has kept the Raiders a competitive team this season.
6. The NHL: Wait a minute, never mind.
5. Strike Force Closing: After being purchased by the UFC ownership group Zuffa over a year ago, Strikeforce will close its doors for good this January on Showtime. As StrikeForce finally shuts down, it gives rise for the UFC to adopt the one good element of Strike Force… women's MMA. This group is led by the face of Women's MMA, Strike Force Bantam Weight Champion, and the beautiful and destructive Ronda Rousey.
4. Aaron Hernandez: The Pats caught a bad break as Gronk suffered a broken forearm in the Pats dominant victory over the Colts. The stud tight end is going to be out from 4-6 weeks. Thankfully TE Aaron Hernandez appears to be back and ready to play against the Jets Thursday night. Hernandez has had an injury filled nightmare season, after signing a multiyear extension with New England.
Thanks giving is his chance to show the Pats some production, after Hernandez was shown the money this past offseason.
3. Aqib Talib: After the Pats gave up a fourth round draft pick to receive the services of Talib for the rest of the season, New England could not be more optimistic about the debut of #31. Talib's presence was on display this past Sunday in the Pat's trouncing of the Colts, including a game changing pick 6 on hot shot rookie Andrew Luck. It's truly amazing the difference one good corner back can make, on a secondary which had been historically bad prior to the Talib's arrival.
2. GSP: After an 18 month layoff due to a torn ACL. George 'Rush' St. Pierre returned in legendary fashion as GSP survived a scare in the 3th round in route a decision victory over UFC interim Welterweight champion Carlos Condett. Condett was game in the loss, providing the greatest challenge GSP has faced in his current title reign. With the victory, St. Pierre ties former UFC Welterweight Champion Matt Hughes with 9 consecutive title defenses, which is he record for most consecutive title defenses in any weight class in UFC History. Up next for GSP may be a dream fight against UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson 'The Spider' Silva, which may take place next May.
1. Notre Dame: After years of struggles throughout most of my lifetime, the Notre Dame fighting Irish are one win (against USC) away from a berth in the National Championship game. Thanks to losses to Oregon, Alabama, and Kansas St. in recent weeks, the fighting Irish control their own National Championship destiny. Truly one of the biggest draws in all of sports, similar to the New York Yankees, LA Lakers or Dallas Cowboys, when the Irish are relevant, it perks the interest of the casual fan worldwide. Notre Dame's success is one of the many reasons why this has been one of the best college football seasons in recent memory.
- Joe Passarelli
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