The Turkey Committee was riding high on Thanksgiving 2009. We managed to get our hands on a hunk of stimulus money and threw the grandest Turkey Banquet in the history of the event.
What made it extra special was the timing of this soiree. The committee was able to spare no expense and we honored perhaps the most deserving Turkey of all: Tim Brewster, the coach of the Minnesota football Gophers.
The inscription on the embossed programs told a prophetic tale as the reason for selecting Coach Brew on this occasion:
"The Turkey Committee had no choice but to give this 2009 honor to Brewster, since we couldn't risk having him escape as Gophers basketball coach Dan Monson had done previously."
The celebration of Brewster and our 32nd annual flock of sporting Turkeys had created such a standard for gluttony and opulence that the committee faced a monumental task in planning for this year's banquet.
And then came the first Tuesday in November, and trying to top the feat of 2009 was no longer an issue. The Tea Partiers and friends swept to an election landslide, and suddenly the Turkey Committee's stay at the public trough came to an end.
We spent a couple of weeks in desperate fundraising, going so far as to contact Vikings owner Zygi Wilf in the hope that he would see sponsoring the Turkey Banquet as good PR for the stadium effort. Sadly, the Zygmeister remembered he was last year's runner-up Turkey and gave us a quick turndown.
The committee finally had to face the fact: There would be no banquet for this Thanksgiving. We were left no choice but to notify this year's honorees by another method.
Twitter, as it turns out.
So, here we go with the 2010 Turkeys:
@abbywildeyes. Abby Sunderland, 16-yr-old sailor cost Australia, France & U.S. millions to rescue in Indian Ocean, is a Turkey.
@KohlerGolf. Herb Kohler gets Turkey in honor of Whistling Straits, where walking paths are bunkers.
@billjamesonline. W/out u, Mr. James, wouldn't have shame of 21 ball writers guilted into voting for Knave Felix (13-12).
@VikingsFootball. Leslie Frazier gets Turkey for turning Pro Bowler-filled defense to putty in Pack's hands.
@scottylago. Scotty: Forward Turkey to official that sent home colorful snowboarder for showing off Olympic medal.
@JoeMauerCom. Site down temporarily, sort of like Joe's bat in postseason. Sweep & no RBIs ... again.
@TonyDungy. Taking role as NFL's conscience way too seriously; telling Rex Ryan not to cuss on HBO.
@NewYorkRedBulls. Thierry Henry gets Turkey for handball vs. Ireland & leading French mutiny at World Cup.
@RachelUchitel. If she had been less noticeable sneaking into Australia, Tiger wouldn't have all these problems.
@Allen3Iverson. Isn't it obvious, Allen? You're a Turkey for playing in Turkey.
@MikeGrimm3. In this town of homers, Gophers hoops radio guy setting standard previously unattained.
@Big12Conference. Commissioner Dan Beebe: Please ask refs to make robbing Big 10 defector Nebraska less blatant.
@MichaelBeasley. OK, Beasy, we can handle tats, but that sprig of a ponytail has got to go.
Here's a collection of Turkey winners from the first year at mostly impressive Target Field:
@VincentBurger. U can't charge $12 for ballpark burger that's a poor imitation of restaurant version.
@Walleyeonastick. Next summer let's try it w/ fish captured in same calendar year.
@MarriageProposal. We'll buy first gal to say "no" next season real taste treat: Frankie V's Little Italy sandwich.
@Beervendorsting. Champ of vendors, Wally the Beer Man, gets pinched. Why aren't ballpark cops looking for pickpockets?
As we wind down, the Chairman would like to interject a personal note. We had every expectation to bring back Brewster as a guest for this year's Turkey Banquet, in the hope we could convince him to tell a large Minnesota audience one last time:
"We're going to take Gopher Nation to the Rose Bowl."
As you have learned today, the banquet was cancelled because of the committee's bankruptcy filing and we're a bit worried that Coach Brew might have missed the message.
There was a tweet sent to Play4Brew, but in checking, there had been no action on that once-lively site since Oct. 17.
What our researchers found interesting was Brewster was the third Gophers football coach in Turkey history to win the grand prize, joining Lou Holtz (1985) and Glen Mason (2003). And several others -- including Joe Salem, John Gutekunst and Jim Wacker -- were being thought of warmly when the 1992 winner was declared to be "25 Years of Golden Gophers Football."
We could go with "43 Years of Golden Gophers Football" today, but the Turkey Committee doesn't like to kick the same can too often. That's not to say Gophers football will be ignored as we introduce the finalists for the 2010 Turkey of the Year:
@KingJames. LeBron James' résumé: The Quit in Game 5. The Decision on ESPN. The Martyr in Nike ad. Let's hope he never gets The Ring.
@RandyMossNews. Randy was back for 4 games, offered familiar combo of indifference & bad influence, was quickly & rightly fired.
@GopherAthletics. AD Joel Maturi: Skeptical fans wanting new blood in FB coach search weren't thinking, "Dave Mona."
Now, as we get ready to name the Grand Turkey, let the committee pause to reveal this was the easiest choice in 33 years.
Turkey of the Year:
@BrettFavreNews. Never has one legend done so much, on and off field, to destroy a promising team as has the Grey Ego.
The committee wasn't 100 percent certain this Twitter site had easy access to Favre, so we sent along notification to a person with whom the old QB has been known to have contact:
@jennifersterger. Next time u hear from Brett, please notify he's Turkey of Year. Thanks -- The Committee.
Patrick Reusse can be heard noon-4 weekdays on 1500ESPN. email@example.com