Food and football have an inseparable relationship on Thanksgiving. There’s nothing better than sitting down in front of the TV with your fourth plate of food (especially with any meat other than turkey, because turkey is the most overrated thing about the holiday). It’s a time to kick back and relax with the people we care about and stuff ourselves to the limit, maybe a little over that.
That goes for NFL players, too. The ones who aren’t playing on Thanksgiving Day pull up to the table and enjoy the spread like the rest of us, albeit in larger quantities. And out of all the players, who would know more about the best way to do a Thanksgiving feast than the big fellas, the guys in the trenches.
SB Nation caught up with a few offensive and defensive linemen to get their favorite Thanksgiving moments, tips, and even a recipe. From vegan hams to having an accident after eating too much, these four NFL players walked us through their favorite Thanksgiving foods and memories.
Sheldon Richardson once ate six full plates on Thanksgiving
If you’ve ever wondered how much food one of best defensive tackles in the game can eat, Sheldon Richardson of the Minnesota Vikings has you covered.
When Richardson was 20 years old, he had quite a day of eating between his mother’s house and his father’s house on Thanksgiving.
“Family was over, everybody on my mom’s side. My mom and my dad’s families both do dinner at their folks’ house, and I ended up eating at both houses — three plates,” Richardson said in an interview with SB Nation.
Just to clarify the math here, Richardson ate six full plates of Thanksgiving food between the two houses.
“Yea man, I was full. So I counted one plate when they was cooking it. Then I ate a whole ‘nother plate ... man, I don’t know why my mama let me eat before everyone else, but I was fat so she didn’t care.
“And then I ended up going out [after both dinners] and ended up having ... oh, man, woo! I ended up having a little accident ... in the club.”
Going to the club after six plates of heavy Thanksgiving food sounds like an accident waiting to happened. And it was! Richardson ended up seeing all the food that he ate during the evening while enjoying himself at the club.
“Yea bruh, I guess I ate too much and ended up throwing up like all over the place.” Richardson told SB Nation. “It was all Thanksgiving dinner food. Didn’t drink nothing, promise. Literally just STUFFED.”
Richardson’s Thanksgiving advice: “Don’t eat too much.”
Jurrell Casey now enjoys a vegan Thanksgiving
Tennessee Titans star defensive lineman Jurrell Casey has gone vegan, but when he was eating meat, turkey was not his go-to meal for Thanksgiving.
“So, back when I used to eat meat, my biggest thing was ham. I would eat a whole pot of ham. I could deal with a little bit of turkey in there with a little bit of dressing, but my main thing was the roasted ham,” Casey told SB Nation.
Casey still enjoys ham, but now that he doesn’t eat meat anymore he had to make some adjustments to the Thanksgiving menu.
“Now that I’m vegan, we got these vegan hams. It’s the same texture, same taste, same everything. It’s actually pretty good! The last couple of years I’ve been eating that instead.”
Casey realizes that everyone might not be down for the meatless Thanksgiving, but that hasn’t been an impediment to him or his wife’s family — his wife shares the same diet.
“Her family’s side, they already know what to do, how to cook things for her specifically and that makes it easier.” Casey said. “They’ll make a smaller pot for me and my wife, whatever it is. It’s a little extra cooking for them, but it’s all worth it. I definitely appreciate it and a lot of the time it works out.”
When Casey was asked about some of his favorite Thanksgiving memories, he recalled a time when his teammate Derrick Morgan bragged about his turkey-making prowess, but it wasn’t quite up to Casey’s standards.
“[Morgan] was hyping up about he does a great job at deep-frying turkey. How he had the best deep-fried turkey I would ever have. Sure enough, that day I came over and he messed around and burns it. That turkey was terrible.” Casey said. “When I left, he messed around and threw the bombest turkey on there — I couldn’t eat that day and I had to get a piece the next day ... though it definitely turned out to be good the next day after, and I’m not even a big leftovers guy.”
Ryan Jensen makes a mean herb butter turkey
Not everyone likes to get their hands dirty with the cooking on Thanksgiving, but Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive lineman Ryan Jensen is an avid chef on Turkey Day. Fried turkey is his favorite dish to make.
“I like to fry my own turkeys. Make some herb butter, inject it, and then fry it up,” Jensen said in an interview with SB Nation. Herb butter sounds complex, so Jensen went a bit more in-depth on what makes the perfect herb butter for his turkey.
“Just some parsley, oregano, some thyme, rosemary — just those four things really,” Jensen explained. After that, Jensen injects the butter into the turkey and lets the frying do the rest.
As far as sides go, Jensen’s favorite Thanksgiving sides are mac and cheese, Brussels sprouts mixed with bacon, and mashed potatoes. Jensen has a very specific layout for his mac and cheese recipe.
“I do cheddar, mozzarella, Colby, and then I put a little Velveeta in it to make it super creamy — oh, and then a lot of butter.”
Butter seems to play a huge role in what Jensen does on Thanksgiving, but that’s what this holiday is all about — eating as much of the worst foods that you possibly can.
Ryan Kerrigan and the role of marshmallows
Washington linebacker Ryan Kerrigan loves to eat turkey on Thanksgiving, but the sweet potato casserole is what really draws him in.
“As far as a side dish, sweet potato casserole will always be my go to.” Kerrigan told SB Nation.
He wasn’t able to give cooking instructions for the sweet potato casserole, but he was able to rattle off the ingredients off the top of his head. “I know it’s sweet potatoes, brown sugar, pecans, and if you want to get fancy, throw some marshmallows on top too.”
Kerrigan also has some feelings about marshmallows and their various uses that expand beyond sweet potato casserole and other Thanksgiving foods.
“Marshmallows, they’re like a niche thing. It’s very specific to certain things,” Kerrigan said. “Hot chocolate, s’mores. Like, sweet potato casserole. You don’t put it on a sandwich, you know?”
How about you? Can you polish off six plates? What do you with marshmallows on Thanksgiving? Share your favorite Thanksgiving stories in the comments.