Thanksgiving has always been a judgement day in professional football. It is to football what Labor Day is to the baseball season.
We take a look at our favorite team, decide what it's capable of accomplishing with what remains of the season, then either toast our optimism or reach for the mashed potatoes. If you're a Jaguars fan, you might ask for someone to pass the gravy, too.
By now, we all know what this season is going to produce, which is to say disappointment. It's not a shock. We knew this season carried that potential, but we had hoped this team had one more lap left in its legs. Now, we know, next season will require younger legs.
There's no disgrace. There will be mashed potatoes and gravy in several NFL cities tomorrow. It's that way every year. Nobody likes the idea of being one of those Thanksgiving "turkeys," but, eventually, every city in the league takes its turn.
What's important for Jaguars fans is that we understand this and accept it as fact. The NFL is cyclical. Those who are up, will be down, and vice versa. If ever there is proof of that fact, it is the two teams who will host tomorrow's games.
How's this for your Thanksgiving Day entertainment? Green Bay at Detroit and Denver at Dallas?
The NFL doesn't schedule games because it wants bad TV ratings. Even though it's tradition that Detroit and Dallas host the Thanksgiving Day games, this year's doubleheader might force the league to consider a break from the routine in the future.
Detroit is 0-9; Dallas is 2-7. The Lions haven't always been a team on which the league could depend to produce a Thanksgiving Day playoff contender, but the Cowboys have.
Not this year. Tomorrow's early game will feature the league's only winless team, and the late game will offer the league's worst pass-offense.
Thanksgiving and football have always been synonymous. It is one of the sport's two holy days and it begins a four-day celebration, but tomorrow will require us to find a deeper appreciation of the sport. We will have to dig a little deeper to be entertained.
And that's what the rest of this season holds for Jaguars fans. It's still football, but without the promise of a great chase for the playoffs. In the remaining seven weeks of this season, we will have to find enjoyment in and appreciation for the game that goes beyond our mania to be number one.
The pressure's off. Enjoy the game for the outlet it provides. Pay attention to how it's played and explore the possibility that maybe, just maybe, these coaches know what they're doing. Relax with the fact that it's a game. And trust that better days are ahead for the Jaguars.
Most of all, we might want to give thanks the Jaguars are still a good enough team and the players still care enough to give us three hours of suspense each week.