clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Turkey Leg Award is the best NFL football on Thanksgiving tradition

Why do we watch football on Thanksgiving? For the Turkey Leg Award, of course!

The history of the NFL's Turkey Leg Award

The history of the Turkey Leg Award, NFL's best Thanksgiving tradition.

Nai-post ni SB Nation noong Huwebes, Nobyembre 24, 2016

It’s Thanksgiving week! We always look forward to voraciously tearing apart turkey legs again, and so do NFL players. That’s because the Turkey Leg Award is NFL’s greatest Thanksgiving tradition.

Ahhhh yes. Sweet, juicy, juicy turkey.

Just look at Vince Wilfork tear that sweet tender meat off the bone ... yea that’s good.

Ahem, anyways.

Let’s take a quick look back at how players have celebrated with those turkey legs in recent years.


Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown, and Ben Roethlisberger had the honors, with Michelle Tafoya fake eating.


Morgan Moses used the turkey legs to perform a drum solo for TV viewers:


It was Drew Brees and a few teammates — Alvin Kamara, Mark Ingram, Cameron Jordan, and Sheldon Rankinswho toasted a win over their biggest rival, the Falcons.

They weren’t ready to let go of those turkey legs, either:

Considering the turkey was prepared by Emeril Lagasse, we can’t say we blame ‘em.


The Saints were back for more in 2019. A year after digging into an Emeril-prepared turkey, Brees, Jordan, and plenty of other New Orleans players were celebrating with turkey once again.

That’s a pretty decent Thanksgiving tradition the Saints are building.

Why do only certain NFL players get to eat the coveted Turkey Leg?

Because John Madden said so!

Back in 1989, Madden created the Turkey Leg Award to be given to the MVP of the NFL primetime game. That year it was Reggie White.

And thus, history was made.

The Turkey Leg Award has continued across three different television networks over the last 30 years, but one constant remains: No MVP is ever left without a turkey leg. How can this be, if there are more than two MVPs and a turkey only has two legs? Well, those genius TV people account for that, and genetically mutate a turkey each spring to grow extra legs!

Just kidding, they just sew on extra legs for each extra MVP. OK, I’m actually not sure which one of those is more disgusting. But everyone gets a turkey leg! Yay!

Sometimes the award is given to a ton of players, like the entire Dallas Cowboys offensive line.

They protected Troy Aikman. They earned it.

Players from BOTH teams even won it in ’94!

The award is fun and mostly just meant to make fans feel better about NFL players missing out on having Thanksgiving with their families and being forced to play on a national holiday so we can avoid our own families/lay across the couch with our pants unbuttoned in a food coma-induced haze.

It’s by far the best NFL tradition, other than the Lions losing or your lovable old uncle forgetting to thaw out that turkey before putting it in the deep fryer and subsequently blowing up your house.

The Turkey Leg Award is something to be thankful for.