The Turkey of the Year Award first was bestowed in 1978 to Ohio State football coach Woody Hayes. Lo and behold, Woody took a swing at a Clemson player a few weeks later and was fired by the Buckeyes.
This immediate credibility caused the Turkey of the Year Award to gain momentum, until there was a Turkey Banquet attached to the presentation, and an increasingly powerful Turkey Committee involved in the selection process.
Trusting fellow that he is, the Turkey Chairman failed to notice the ambitious nature of several young committee members, and in Year 40 of the Turkeys, there was an insurrection.
The committee not only stripped the Chairman of his duties; these ingrates voted him in as the Turkey of the Year for 2017. They also produced copyrights barring future use of all branding: Turkey of the Year, Turkey Banquet, Grand Turkey, Grand Gobbler, Herschel the Turkey and, lowest blow of all, Turkey Chairman.
The Chairman can’t even be a chairman anymore. These whippersnappers … now he knows how Captain Bligh felt. Or, more recently, Paul Molitor.
Fortunately, here’s a moniker the backstabbers didn’t think of: The Authentic Turkeys [TAT].
No banquet, no mutineers, but what we can present are the all-new TATs, from the singular voice of the Tsar of TATs, bellowing forth from a small, cold room in a Golden Valley basement.
No bird, stuffing, gravy or pie (pumpkin or pecan) this year. Here’s the list. That’s all we have to offer for Thanksgiving 2018.
TAT No. 10: Patrick Reed. His parents live in Augusta, Ga. and he was a championship golfer at Augusta State. When he won the Masters in April, his parents weren’t welcome at the course because of a family estrangement. As he walked off the 18th green, he was greeted as warmly as a Target Field ball hog triumphantly holding up a foul ball after wrestling it from a 6-year-old girl.
Then in September, Reed contributed to the locker room dissension that made the Americans’ pathetic effort in a blowout Ryder Cup loss doubly embarrassing. This guy’s got issues.
TAT No. 9: Kevin O’Brien. The Tsar would like to give this TAT to the designer of the Brandi Chastain plaque that made her look like Maude Frickert, but the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame refuses to reveal that person’s name.
That leaves O’Brien, the group’s president, to take the fall for the embarrassing attempt at a likeness for new inductee Chastain, the U.S. soccer star. (Note: It was redone, again anonymously.)
TAT No. 8: Mike McCarthy and Paul Chryst. The Packers were going to win 12 or 13. They are now cooked and McCarthy will be fired. The Badgers were rated fourth — FOURTH — in the Associated Press preseason college football poll, and now they’ll need 250 yards from Jonathan Taylor on Saturday to keep the winning streak alive vs. the Gophers.
It’s a cheese-and-whine football feast to our East.
TAT No. 7: John Shuster. Seems like a nice guy. Heck of a shot to win the gold medal. But the Tsar was clicking channels recently and came across “Curling Night in America.” There’s one guy to blame for such nonsense: Shuster.
Back in the day when M.C. Hammer was omnipresent at sports and entertainment events, a friend of ours claimed there was more than one Hammer, that there had to be three or four. Same with Shuster for a few months after the Olympics; there had to be several Shusters.
TAT No. 6: Mike Zimmer. A miracle propels the Vikings to the NFC Championship Game in Philadelphia. At stake: a chance to play in a hometown Super Bowl, in the $1.2 billion edifice in downtown Minneapolis. The 57-season journey was going to end right here … set up like a golf ball waiting to be struck by Brooks Koepka. And then Zim’s No. 1 defense no-showed vs. the Eagles. That remains an authentically turkey-esque moment that can’t be forgotten on this blessed day.
TAT No. 5: Urban Meyer and D.J. Durkin. Ohio State’s Meyer tried to act dumb with what the wife of assistant coach Zach Smith was going through, and then couldn’t keep his prevaricating straight when the scandalous behavior became public. Maryland’s Durkin created a boot-camp atmosphere and lineman Jordan McNair wound up dying of heat stroke when Durkin’s people didn’t properly respond during a hot-weather practice. Durkin finally got fired; Meyer survived because of all those victories.
TAT No. 4: Al Riveron and Jon Runyan. Riveron is the NFL’s head of officiating and in charge of making absurd justifications for penalties — such as the “scoop and pull” alibi offered after referee Tony Corrente’s ridiculous roughing the passer calls against Clay Matthews and Eric Kendricks in the first Packers-Vikings game.
Then Runyan, the league’s top discipline officer, swoops in and steals money with outrageous fines, including $20,054 against Antwione Williams, a Vikings linebacker in an exhibition game. Williams didn’t make the team and wasn’t making any money, but the NFL still wants 20 grand, if he ever gets a check.
TAT No. 3: “This Is How We Baseball.” That was the slogan proudly unveiled for the 2018 Twins, and no matter the failings that surfaced with old (Ervin Santana, Lance Lynn, Logan Morrison) and young (Miguel Sano, Byron Buxton, Jorge Polanco, Max Kepler), we were told all summer this was how the Twins baseball-ed.
The Tsar still can’t figure out how the Falveyians thought it was wise to give away Randy Rosario and keep Dietrich Enns. That was a year ago, and the puzzlements have continued nonstop.
TAT No. 2: Jimmy Butler. On arrival in Philadelphia, Butler said, “I’m an incredible human being.” We will remember you differently in the Frozen Wasteland, Jimmy — as an incredible egomaniac with one goal: a max contract.
TAT No. 1: P.J. Fleck. Here’s the mystery: Strident defenders of Fleck’s sloganeering and sugarcoating are everywhere, and yet people are showing up for Gophers football games in the smallest numbers in the Tsar’s memory — and that dates to being in the closed end zone of Memorial Stadium on Nov. 13, 1954 (Gophers 22, Iowa 20 in an upset).
The crowd was 65,464, and that’s more actual customers than Fleck attracted total in the past three Big Ten games in TCF Bank Stadium. He might beat the flop of a Wisconsin team Saturday, and join the 70 percent of Power Five teams that make some form of a bowl game, but even that would leave Phil at 5-13 in Big Ten games at Minnesota and in a half-empty stadium that’s the second smallest in the conference.
This is Year 1 in Fleck math, and it’s also Year 1 for The Authentic Turkeys, and the Top TAT turns out to be Philip John Fleck. The Tsar hopes that floats everyone’s boat.