It’s a transitional time of the year.
The weather is changing for most parts of the country. Be safe if you’re one of our friends in the Northeast. Needless to say we don’t get much thundersnow in Texas. While hoodie season can be a fun change of pace for some, I understand that winter can bring certain challenges to others.
Sports are transitioning too, with football entering a playoff season while basketball is just beginning. Good luck to all who are deloading for a run at a championship.
Similarly, with major holidays in view, schools are also preparing for a semester transition where kids are going to have some down time from academics. Of course, your team may still be practicing or participating in holiday tournaments. It’s also, hopefully, an opportunity for you to get a little extra rest. Key word, hopefully. You’ve earned it, so take that holiday nap.
When this part of the season rolls around, I reminisce about my time in the professional ranks. I am thankful and blessed to have been on the Dallas Cowboys’ staff for six years and participating in three Super Bowls. With that length of time, the stories are plentiful.
One in particular comes to mind for several reasons. It was about this time of year at Texas stadium against our perennial NFC-rival, the Green Bay Packers. We were ahead by a slim margin with the ball, running out the clock. It was take-a-knee time, which makes this more dramatic. The offense was bleeding the clock and out of nowhere, the field goal unit went onto the field.
Green Bay was no pushover, so we could have just enjoyed the win. In spite of that, our guy goes out and knocks through a long, in-your-face field goal. The points were meaningless. The point was not.
As soon as the ball left the kicker's foot, yes, that quick, the Green Bay defense and their bench, led by the incredible, always-All-Pro defensive end Reggie White, turned and headed toward our bench. He WAS NOT happy.
Truth be told, our sideline was not happy with the decision, either. Regardless, we headed towards midfield for what is supposed to be the sportsmanship handshakes. Somewhere in the mix, I saw our head coach and my boss nose to nose. I went and got between them, separated them, and heard the boss say, “I ought to fire you on the spot.”
Order was sort of restored enough to get our team, in an uproar, to the locker room. In the post-game, the coach finally got the team settled down enough to talk. He had been the only one aware of this, but he informed us that right at the end, the PR guy came down out of the press box to tell him if our kicker kicked a field goal, he would tie an NFL record for the most field goals in a game.
So, he made the decision. He also said, “Who wouldn't want to be in the record book and whose parents wouldn’t be proud of their son who was in the record book?” Then, we understood. Say what you want, but in my opinion, that was the right decision and that was great coaching. A coach put his player in a position to make history.
So, as we take a moment to reflect on what we are thankful for, I want you to keep this perspective. Are your athletes thankful for you? Do you do things for your athletes to help put them in a position to be successful? Sure, there are things out of your control, but each and every day, do you go out, show up and control the things you can control?
As parents and coaches, I know that’s what we really want for the kids. We want them to win on and off the field. We want them to have confidence, to be empowered with knowledge, and to take ownership as they mature. Most importantly, we want to make a positive impact on their lives just like I’m sure there was a coach that made a similar impact on yours growing up.
So let’s be thankful for this season and the opportunity to teach children well and help them lead the way. Go Cowboys! Enjoy your Thanksgiving and stay safe this Friday. Lead by example, y’all.
Let’s talk turkey!
Outside of coaching, you may know my favorite hobby is grilling.
Tis the season for everything, especially cooking the big bird. However you choose to do it, enjoy. But I’ll share my method on my Big Green Egg.
A turkey will follow the rule of any protein being cooked on the Egg: your taste, your preference. Seasoning is your call, but remember, you can’t unseason the meat. If you overdo it, it’s too late. An important rule that goes into effect once the bird is on and the lid is closed: walk away. Do not raise the lid and check every 30 min or even every hour. You are interested in the temperature holding steady.
Honestly, only doing a turkey maybe twice a year, it takes a minute to review the process. But these are my basics:
1. Let the turkey sit out at least a half hour to start warming up and not do any cooling to the inside of the dome. If it's frozen, there are timetables for weight and refrigeration before bringing it out to room temperature, so you can Google that.
2. Apply any spices, butter, and oil while the BGE is preheating to 275º.
3. Applewood chips are counted out based on chunk sizes. More is not better.
4. Drip pan is prepped. Filled with water with enough room for a pint or more of scotch.
5. When temp is met, the wood chunks are placed around the charcoal. Then the deflector plate, drip pan, and grate are put in place.
6. Close the lid and let the new additions heat for about 15 minutes.
7. Place your dinner guest in the middle and do what? That’s right, walk away. Make note of your time and check the temperature every 20 minutes for the first hour as the additional contents impact the reading. Don’t overreact or over-correct to a temperature drop. It can recover quickly.
8. At two hours, you may have a temperature check on the inside part of the leg. You will be looking for a finish temperature of 185 degrees in the leg or 165 degrees in the breast.
9. When it’s time to pull the bird off, place it in a cooler with tin foil and a towel covering it and walk away for 30 minutes.
10. Carving in the beginning is to provide enough for the meal. If I don’t need to, I don’t slice the whole turkey at one time. Keep it intact to preserve as much flavor as possible.
Eat, drink (but don’t drive) and be merry. And enjoy some football!