This Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for … well … a lot.
Like many fans, I’m thankful for being able to watch football with family. That tradition is a given for anyone connected to a sports writer.
I’m thankful for still having a job that allows me to share stories and videos on the Indianapolis Colts and Indiana Pacers. And it goes without saying I’m thankful for readers and viewers who have stuck by me in this life transition from working for a newspaper.
Since this is a Colts blog, we’ll stick to that locker room. I’m thankful for having productive professional relationships with the players.
Specifically, I’m thankful for kicker Adam Vinatieri’s right foot.
I’m thankful for punter Pat McAfee’s right foot, too, as well as his “never-dull-for-one-second” personality.
I’m thankful for wide receiver Reggie Wayne’s hands, sense of humor and sage-like wisdom.
And although he’s not playing this season, I’m thankful for outside linebacker Robert Mathis reminding me the importance of being succinct. I struggle with that, of course, but Mathis once said, “The more you talk, the more you show your ignorance.” Let’s say it’s an ongoing challenge, but wise words.
I’m thankful for anything quarterback Matt Hasselbeck says, because he’s a reporter’s dream when it comes to interviews.
I’m thankful for defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois for the same reason. And the fact that I’m still one of the few people who realize Ricky is his first name, not Ricky Jean, and the Jean isn’t pronounced like Gene, although people still get it wrong.
Speaking of names, I’m thankful for safety Colt Anderson having the perfect first name to be on this team.
I’m thankful for defensive end Cory Redding’s one-on-one candor, be it about his family, his love of specific food, childhood memories or whatever off-the-wall topic I spring on him.
Same with inside linebacker D’Qwell Jackson. I’m thankful for guys who always remind the NFL can humble you in a hurry.
I’m thankful I have yet to misspell rookie Jonotthan Harrison’s name, although it auto-corrects every time I type it. Same thing with Bjoern Werner. I’m thankful for getting it right, although auto-correct always tries to take out the “e” in Bjoern. Yep, did it again. But I fixed it.
I’m thankful for quarterback Andrew Luck’s smarts. And his passing arm. And his legs that keep him alive. And how he cares about winning, not piling up statistics. There’s more, but that’s enough.
I’m thankful for Erik Walden’s laugh. It seems like just seeing me cracks him up. That and when I remind him about what scares him by saying, “Possum,” and he does an immediate impersonation with the eyes growing wide and gnashing teeth. Yeah, those critters creep him out.
And since I’ve brought up the subject of laughing, I’m thankful for being able to amuse offensive right tackle Gosder Cherilus and tight end Coby Fleener on a continual basis. “Goz” likes to tease me, especially after Fleener had him pull my chain a while back and I fell for it at first. Gotta love Fleener. He can laugh at himself as well as others. I’m thinking he’s due for a new TD celebration.
Speaking of that, I’m thankful for left offensive tackle Anthony Castonzo delivering the best Colts touchdown celebration of the year, based on a video game character. OK, it was the best for a week. Then wide receiver T.Y. Hilton outdid him with “rocking the baby.”
I’m thankful for how running back Ahmad Bradshaw played each game like it was his last. Yeah, his body broke again. But there’s something to be said for going about your business like he did every day. You can’t help but admire guys like that. Whatever you do, work hard. Perhaps that explains why I’m still typing at 5:27 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning.
I’m thankful for having a couple of Ohio State Buckeyes in the room. Yeah, that’s a bit more selfish, but running back Dan “Boom” Herron and offensive guard Jack Mewhort know the importance of responding to “O-H” with an “I-O.” You would be surprised how many people I see in public who are wearing scarlet and gray and don’t respond or are caught off guard.
And speaking of nicknames, I’m thankful for Darius Butler being known as “D-But.” The easily amused sophomoric child in me gets a kick out of it.
I’m thankful for reserve linebacker Andy Studebaker loving German food. It’s the one thing we have in common. Get on over to Ludwig on the South side, Andy. Chef Ron will take care of you.
I’m thankful for long snapper Matt Overton, who might be the most generous NFL guy I’ve ever known when it comes to spending time with fans and contributing to community endeavors. And he’s just a flat-out cool dude, like Vinatieri and McAfee.
I’m thankful for linebacker Josh McNary’s military service as well as the respect he has for those who serve.
I’m thankful for offensive tackle-guard Joe Reitz and tight end Jack Doyle reminding us that hometown heroes do exist, and that kids can indeed follow their dreams.
I’m thankful for the dreadlocks of cornerback Greg Toler and safety Sergio Brown. Yeah, Walden has them, too. A lot of guys do, in fact. So let’s just say, for whatever reason, I’m thankful for dreads, if for no other reason than because I share an appreciation for hair.
In the spirit of the season, I leave everyone with better words than mine. I asked the Colts players on Wednesday to share with me someone they wish they could thank but can’t this Thanksgiving. Check out this video, my Thanksgiving gift to everyone.
Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.