The Turkey Committee is a private group and thus our meetings are not subject to sunshine laws. That’s how we avoided giving the public a peek behind the curtain to discover how the Turkey of the Year was determined for 36 years.
Today, that veil of secrecy will be lifted, however briefly.
A controversy has raged in Turkey Committee meetings for more than a month, since an investigative report was released outlining 18 years of massive academic fraud to keep athletes eligible at North Carolina.
There long has been a feeling among veteran Turkey Committee members that we were swept away in the righteous indignation over the “academic fraud” with Gophers basketball and kowtowed to the do-gooders by naming Clem Haskins as the 1999 Turkey of the Year.
That sentiment resurfaced after the North Carolina details were revealed, and it became obvious that what took place with tutor Jan Gangelhoff and Clem’s Gophers was mere academic mischief … a wispy breeze compared to North Carolina’s nuclear explosion.
The committee was ready to de-feather Clem as a Turkey of the Year and restore him as a Minnesota coaching legend in good standing.
Sad to say, we had a leak in the committee and rumors spread that Coach Haskins would be removed from the list of Turkeys. We heard from media snoops, Turkey Banquet ticket buyers and sponsors.
Heck, somebody from Radisson called and said if we didn’t keep Clem on the list, we’d have to find another place to hold the banquet.
And that’s why I’m here, as Chairman, to stiffly and in poor grammar stumble through this statement:
“We made a mistake and we needed to get this right. We value this community. The Turkey of the Year Banquet is such an important part to this state, the Upper Midwest and all its fans around the world, so we appreciate the input, them, the sponsors, the fans, the community … very much so.
“As stewards of this great banquet, and with big plans for our greatest money grab ever from the city, the state and our ticket buyers, we had to make the right decision …
“We just wanted to get it right.”
Sorry, Clem. Money talks. You’re stuck on the list, which will be added to shortly, after we introduce the 37th annual Turkey Banquet’s honored guests.
Bill Simmons, Grantland.com and ESPN. Mike Golic disagrees with Simmons, and thus Golic is worth no respect. How can you offer endless strong opinions on massive media fronts and be as thin-skinned as Simmons? Ego run amok, presumably.
Matt Williams, Washington Nationals. He was voted the NL’s Manager of the Year. Those votes were in before Williams made the worst pitching decision in recorded baseball history — hooking a fantastic Jordan Zimmermann one out from a Game 2 shutout in the NLDS and eventually watching his Nats lose 2-1 in 18 innings to San Francisco.
Mike Goldberg, broadcaster. Once the screaming, homerific voice of the Wild, Goldberg was given a shot by Fox to do play-by-play of the Lions at Vikings on Oct. 12. He was ripped on Twitter for gaffes, and sent back profane responses. To quote Hawk Harrelson, “He gone.”
Ron Gardenhire, Twins (first half). Most of the Twins’ mess wasn’t the manager’s fault, but Jason Bartlett as inspirational leader … that silliness was all on Gardy.
Ron Gardenhire, Twins (second half). The 2014 Twins were 26-42 after the All-Star break. That put Gardy’s post-All-Star record for the past four seasons at 105-183 (.365). To again quote Hawk, “He gone.”
Thomas Vanek, Wild. Plays like Heatley, gambles like Schlichter.
Tina and Jack Johnson Sr., hockey parents. Jack Johnson Jr. was the third pick in the 2005 NHL draft. He became an honored defenseman with a big contract. Now he’s bankrupt, because Tina convinced her son to let her handle his money, and then she and the old man blew it.
Marc Trestman, Chicago Bears. Advice to a local boy: Marc, in the name of Ross Fortier, your coach at Moorhead State, take off the professorial glasses, put in contacts and start barking at people, or your one chance as an NFL head coach is going to finish in flames.
Jameis Winston, Florida State. This quarterback turned into such a lout that the keepers of the Heisman Trophy took out the words “with integrity” from the description of the award. When caught, the Heisman folks said it was an oversight. Here at the Turkey Committee, we say all Heisman integrity (and dignity) was lost when 2013 winner Winston stole crab legs.
Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls. The point guard doesn’t plan to rush back from injuries for fear he’ll be a step slow when walking into the auditorium for his child’s high school graduation, 16 years hence.
Joe Mauer and Ricky Nolasco. Two Twins who played in 2014 as if they also were guarding against being broken down at distant graduations for offspring (although Ricky isn’t a parent as yet).
Cordarrelle Patterson and Matt Kalil. Two Vikings, same deal.
*Chuck Knoblauch, former Twin. The ballot-holders for the Twins Hall of Fame decided to wince and vote in Knoblauch for 2014, based on him being the franchise’s best player not yet inducted. Then he was charged with beating up his wife. Induction canceled … forever.
*The Turkey Committee can’t afford to have all the wife beaters, girlfriend assaulters and overzealous child discipliners eating for free at the banquet. We chose Knobby to represent Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson … the whole lot of them.
Besides, we have to feed a huge bunch of hockey players, for these acts of Turkeyism:
Gophers men’s hockey. Union: no hockey scholarships, one NHL draftee. Minnesota: top-funded hockey program, 13 NHL draftees. Frozen Four final: Union 7, Gophers 4. What a choke.
U.S. women’s hockey team. The USA women’s hockey players left the Vancouver Olympics in 2010 knowing that, four years later, they once again would be playing Canada for the gold medal in Sochi. The Yanks led 2-0 with 2½ minutes left and lost in overtime. What a choke.
And now we get to the head table.
Second runner-up: Roger Goodell, NFL commissioner. We’ve gotten to see it all with Goodell here in the Twin Cities: arrogance, with his belief that he’s wiser than the courts in how to deal with Adrian Peterson’s misguided parenting; and greed, in pushing Minnesota to provide Zygi Wilf with a billion-dollar stadium, only to fleece us again for another $50 million or more to be gifted with a Super Bowl.
If this smug fellow doesn’t make you retch, you’re very strong of constitution.
First runner-up: Michele Kelm-Helgen, Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority chairwoman. The MSFA is the landlord for the new dome, and Kelm-Helgen has turned out to be a complete bobo for the demands of Les (Wants More) Bagley, the Vikings’ main force in stadium matters.
The worst of it was the “Authority” had the authority to put the brakes on the Vikings’ seat-license plans to some degree, and signed off on what will be a gouge of ticket holders for $125 million (or more). Plus, Kelm-Helgen seems to have no problem overseeing an edifice that bird experts tell us will be an avian abattoir.
And now the Grand Gobbler:
For the second time in 37 years, we have chosen an entity rather than an individual. In 1992, we honored the futility of “25 Years of Golden Gophers Football.”
Today, we honor a franchise that played its first game on Nov. 3, 1989. We honor a franchise that started with eight consecutive losing seasons, and currently has a streak of nine losing seasons. In between, it made the playoffs eight times and lost in the first round in seven of them.
The 2014 Turkey of the Year is “25 Years of Timberwolves Basketball.”
It is the franchise of young stars that insist on leaving, namely Stephon Marbury and Kevin Love, and lotteries with zero luck, and drafts where Steph Curry is passed over for Jonny Flynn, and 805 wins compared to 1,209 losses (.400), and perpetual injuries, including at this moment, and …
Well, the Timberwolves just want to get it right for the state, the Upper Midwest and their fans around the world, and some of you out there might actually live long enough to enjoy that.
The Turkey Chairman is a senior citizen and has no chance.
Patrick Reusse can be heard 3-6 p.m. weekdays on AM-1500. email@example.com