The Gut Check No.526: A Holiday Legend in the Making?

With J.K. Dobbins and Mark Ingram on the COVID-19 list, Gus Edwards is slated to start for the Ravens. However, Matt Waldman wants to you keep your eyes peeled for a rookie sleeper who could get a shot to become a holiday legend. 

Rookie backup quarterback Clint Longley took over for the injured Roger Staubach on Thanksgiving day 46 years ago and on the strength of 203 yards passing and a pair of touchdowns, brought Dallas back from a 16-3 deficit for a 24-23 victory over its arch-rival, Washington.

A few things amaze me when I think about this moment. The first is that I was a four-year-old watching this game and I remember seeing it.

It further stuns me that I remember this span of my life between ages 3-10 more vividly than I remember the past 7 years.

I'm still bewildered that I was already a football fan. O.J. Simpson was the hottest athlete in sports after his 2,000-yard campaign the year before and everyone had a No.32 Bills jersey. We would have been more apt to believe in UFOs and the existence of a huge primate living in the forests of the U.S. than you telling us what Simpson would do nearly 20 years later.

The 1970s were weird. The following season, wide receiver Ken Burrough, who wore "00" was about to become one of my favorite players when he would earn a 1,000-yard season and average 20 yards per catch in the process. This is something Bob Henry and I have in common.

That "00" jersey and Burrow tracking down rainbows was as common a sight on my TV as the debut of Happy Days and the Six Million Dollar Man, Nixon resigning, and the build-up to the Rumble in the Jungle between Ali and Foreman.

As a Clevelander in 1974, there was also Ten Cent Beer Night, something I kept hearing about that summer from the older kids in my neighborhood...

Probably the reason why if Jene Bramel grew up closer to Cleveland, he wouldn't have been much of a baseball fan, either.

Now, as a 50-year-old football writer who is coming to grips with his age, it's also weird to imagine that there was probably a 50-year-old football writer in 1974 who remembered listening to games on the radio between the Providence Steam Rollers and Frankford Yellow Jackets or the Pottsville Maroons and Dayton Triangles.

Wildcat Wilson, Curly Oden, and Pop Williams were one helluva backfield for the Steam Rollers...

Listen, I'm trying to portray that pervasive sense of strangeness that permeated most kid's life in the 1970s so you have a shot of going with the flow during the final five 5-6 weeks of 2020. Especially, when I float the idea that TySon Williams could wind up an NFL Thanksgiving Legend by Thursday night.

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