The Chairman long had been of the opinion that he was as successful in packing the Turkey Committee with loyalists as Donald Trump would become in packing the Supreme Court with arch-conservatives.
Then came the pre-Thanksgiving meeting in 2017 in which final decisions were made for Turkey Banquet invitees, and the committee rose up and voted The Chairman as the Grand Turkey in the 40th year of these awards.
There was an appeal made to the vice chairman, John Sharkman from Toronto, to overturn that unjust vote, but Sharkman proved as cowardly as would Vice President Mike Pence in failing to issue a decree that his boss could stick around.
So, that was it. The Chairman waddled away glumly, the picture of a sore loser. He came back with no funding and no banquet in 2018, going solo with something called the TATs (The Authentic Turkeys).
Even though naming P.J. Fleck as the Grand TAT proved 100% effective, motivating him to lead the Gophers to a long-awaited victory over Wisconsin two days later, the old fire wasn't there for The Chairman.
He called it quits with the Turkey in November 2019 and retreated to a Florida condo called "Mar-o-Smallo.'' He spent much time reading about the spread of pythons in south Florida (two were spotted hitch-hiking north on Interstate 75), and then that preoccupation was replaced by the arrival of the worldwide pandemic in March 2020.
The Chairman returned to Minnesota and heard with some frequency during the summer: "In this of all years, we need the Turkeys.''
Thus came the 2020 selection of the Turkey Revived Under Mandate by Public (the TRUMP awards). The top TRUMP went to Mark Coyle, the sports-killing athletic director at the University of Minnesota.
The Chairman's bitterness began to subside. He read the bestseller "Getting Back to Happy: Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Reality, and Turn Your Trials Into Triumphs'' several times.
And thus, 43 years after they began, with a small committee now required to sign loyalty pledges to The Chairman, the Turkey Awards are back. No banquet as in the grand old days, but we will pop for dinner for the winner.
The envelopes, please, for the 2021 Turkey finalists:
Byron Buxton, Twins. He played 140 games in 2017 and was the AL's Platinum Glove winner. A year later, he was both injured and helpless at the plate (.156) and played 28 games in the big leagues. Since then, he has played in 187 of 384 games (48.7%). He took what seemed overtime to come back from his 2021 injuries. He turns 28 on Dec. 18, an age when a great player should be established, not still a question.
There would be numerous reasons to assign Turkey status to Twins management. Requiring Buxton to accept incentives to get a lucrative contract is not among them.
Aaron Rodgers, Packers quarterback. The Chairman long admired A-Rodg's attitude and ability. And then he turned out to be A-Liar — first, about never returning to play for Green Bay; more importantly, about being "immunized.''
NBA panelists, national TV. The relentless attempt to make the future of the 76ers' pouting Ben Simmons — a guy who would lose 5-0 most every time in a game of lefthanded HORSE with the Gophers' Jamison Battle — worth heated discussions for months was ludicrous.
Kyrie Irving, Brooklyn Nets. The Chairman thought Kyrie was yanking our chain with the Earth-is-flat stuff a couple of years ago. Now convinced he wasn't. Pure, 100% space cadet.
Roy Smalley, Twins broadcaster. Among The Chairman's favorite Twins to cover, and now his favorite analyst on Twins telecasts. But … disappointed in Smalley joining the complaints when the White Sox's Yermin Mercedes smashed a home run off Willians Astudillo's 3-0 lob for the final run in a 16-4 slaughter. You can't violate the unwritten rules when you're the team employing a pitcher on the mound for comic relief. "Yeah, Yermin!'' shouts The Chairman.
Dustin Johnson, PGA Tour great. Showed up for the second time for 3M Open in Blaine. Made sure he went home again after 36 holes by hitting his last tee shot in the 18th hole water.
Kim Raisner, Modern Pentathlon coach. The five-sport event in international sports includes equestrian. Raisner was Germany's coach in the Tokyo Olympics. The horse assigned to Annika Schleu from the German team refused to move. Annika tried mightily and then started to tear up. Raisner came over and punched the horse, although not with the impact as did Mongo in "Blazing Saddles."
Raisner was sent home from the Olympics. The embarrassment was such that equestrian is being dropped and another sport will replace it in future Pentathlons.
Bally Sports North. This Sinclair-owned enterprise taking TV games away from 50% (and growing) of the customer base is more disastrous for local pro teams than finishing last in the AL Central (Twins) or reaching the playoffs once in 17 years (Timberwolves).
Rich McKay, Atlanta Falcons CEO. He remains the head of the NFL's competition committee, the collection of old-timers that decided for 2021 there was a need to solve a problem that didn't exist. "Taunting'' was turned into a point of emphasis, and it has been taken to such a ridiculous extreme that pointing as you score a touchdown is now a 15-yard penalty.
These clowns think they are the keepers of the NFL flame. Hogwash. Black athletes are the lifeblood of the NFL. And if a receiver from LSU wants to give a hard time post-play to a cornerback from Alabama, why not? There are about three fights a year in the NFL.
These were the chosen contenders (some controversial), and now here's the Turkey of the Year Award, back in all its glory:
Gersson Rosas, former Timberwolves executive. He was hired on May 1, 2019, basically as the replacement for Tom Thibodeau (fired that January) to run the basketball operation. Much ado was made that day about the "FAMILY'' operation the Wolves were going to become, after the Jimmy Butler disturbance created chaos and did in Thibs.
Rosas blundered in his first draft (Jarrett Culver), scored well in his second (Anthony Edwards, Jaden McDaniels), unloaded Andrew Wiggins, but wound up with the unpredictable D'Angelo Russell, and also lost a high first-rounder.
Nothing there to get him fired, but it seems Rosas had made a number of enemies and one very good friend in creating still another battling Wolves front office.
As mentioned, there's no return of the storied Turkey Banquet in 2021, just dinner for the winner and a plus one.
. . . . .
Turkey of the Year winners of years past, from 1978 (Woody Hayes) to 2020 (Mark Coyle) and 40 "winners" in between.