The Turkey Committee did not host mere dinners to fete its award winners over the previous eight years. These were Thanksgiving feasts: Huge, pen-raised, hormone-enhanced birds, baked to golden perfection. Sweet potatoes the size of a toddler's head. Mounds of well-seasoned, raisin-free stuffing. Endless rows of pumpkin and pecan pies.
Sadly, the Turkey Committee has had to face the reality the Clinton economic boom is over. We have been forced to cut back substantially on the vittles for the 24th annual Turkey Banquet. That substance on your plate is pressed turkey roll. One dab of stuffing per plate. Itsy-bitsy pumpkin squares.
Folks, times are tough here at the Turkey Committee, too. The only thing we have in abundance is Turkey candidates.
Roll call, please:
- Don Lucia: Colgate. Bemidji State. Play these college hockey sad sacks if you must, Coach Lucia. Just don't forget to cover up all references to the "Pride on Ice" slogan at Mariucci Arena.
- Michael Jordan: Exactly what the young Wizards needed . . . a 38-year-old ball hog.
- Ari Fleisher: We're off the sports beat here, but admit it: If you covered the White House and had t deal with this condescending press secretary every day, the temptation to stick your head in the oven along with today's Thanksgiving dinner would be overwhelming.
- Mike Helton: The NASCAR president was in charge of the organization's months-long attempt to manipulate the investigations into Dale Earnhardt's death at the Daytona 500 in February.
For sure, Helton and his employers, the France family, did not want any report stating definitively that "soft walls" - a very expensive improvement - would have prevented Earnhardt's death.
- Sara Jane Olson: What has been your favorite part of Sara Jane's court appearances? The Turkey Committee especially enjoyed the sighs and head shakes when the judge made her return to court to reaffirm a guilty plea on taking part in the pre-planning of a plot to blow up L.A. cop cars. What an actress! Please, judge, forget the latest change of Sara Jane's mind. Just let her go and she will promise to donate several jars of her famous strawberry preserves to a food shelter.
- Tom Moe: J Robinson's campaign against the damage Title IX has done to men's collegiate sports has led to a seething resentment toward Robinson within the University of Minnesota establishment. And Robinson, even with last spring's national championship, has not received public support from Moe, an athletic director who continues to come off not as an advocate for his department but as a toady for university president Mark Yudof.
- Lee Greenwood: Every time we have a national crisis, this one-song opportunist shows up before every kickoff and first pitch and tipoff imaginable. Enough, Lee. Go back into hiding.
- Tony Dungy: The committee does not often admit errors. Here's one: We were unanimous in the belief a nice guy serving as an NFL head coach could get the best from his players.
- Joe Mauer: What could be the Twins' last act of Minnesota loyalty was to use the No. l draft pick on Mauer, the St. Paul high school star. Mauer was so moved he delayed most of the $5 million signing bonus until he could establish residency in Florida and avoid Minnesota taxes. These contenders were eliminated in preliminary voting. Three entities made it to the final round of balloting.
- Second runners-up: There are 772,285 Minnesotans who can claim this status. You know who you are. You voted for Jesse Ventura in the 1998 gubernatorial election.
- First runners-up: Carl and Jim Pohlad. Smilin' Carl already held the distinction of being the only two time winner as Grand Turkey. Admittedly, the Turkey Committee received substantial public pressure to make it three times, thus allowing Pohlad to retire the trophy.
The Pohlads' Turkey pedigree was reinforced when son Jim claimed an eagerness to run the team. Roughly 10 minutes later, the truth came out that his father had volunteered the Twins for contraction.
The committee admits it was leaning this way - until Sunday, when a maximum of 2,000 people could muster the concern to show up for the Save the Twins rally outside the Metrodome. That made it official. This is a pro football town, meaning Purple-clad Turkeys deserve extra credit.
- 2001 Grand Turkeys: Randy Moss and Cris Carter.
Our heroic receivers have teamed up for sideline displays that led to their Vikings being ridiculed coast to coast.
Moss allows his pouting to carry over to the field much more often than Carter. For that reason, there was strong support within the Turkey Committee to make this a Moss-only honor.
Then, a committeeman rose and said: `Two points on Carter. One, Mo' Power. Two, the sideline stuff - Carter's the one who should know better. He's an adult." Without apology, the committee announces Moss and Carter as co-winners of the Grand Turkey. All we would ask is that Randy repeats the 5-yard Turkey Trot from Monday night's second touchdown while on his way to receive this championship hardware.