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What 11 star athletes and coaches should have on their plates this Thanksgiving

Let’s imagine what everyone is having this holiday season.

Thanksgiving Plate Photo by Gado/Getty Images

Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and with it our individuals plans for the meal. Some people are traditionalists, opting to get all the classic elements and having their storybook Thanksgiving. Some people are side aficionados, who think turkey is overrated and much rather fill their plates with all the good stuff. Then there’s always one chaotic person at the table who only eats an alarmingly large portion of mashed potatoes, and nothing else.

There’s nothing wrong with any of these approaches, but what about professional athletes? It’s mid-season for a lot of them, making Thanksgiving a minefield of carbs, sodium, and banned foods — balancing them against their restrictive diets, while still being able to celebrate. We imagined what some of the biggest names in sports are filling their plates with on the holiday this year.

Zach Wilson

One pound of extremely dry, white meat turkey, nothing else

This was Wilson’s second year in charge of Thanksgiving, and he made a mess of it in 2021 — but there was hope he’d turn it around. Instead he’s pulling a turkey breast out of his oven that has been cooked to the point of dust and is functionally inedible.

Wilson is going to sit there and try to make it through his dry-ass turkey, while blaming the results on his convection oven — not his ability to cook. How was he supposed to know there was wind in a convection oven? You have to factor in the wind. He didn’t let his family down, because he did exactly what was asked of him and produce a turkey. If you don’t like it then that’s on you pal.

Matthew Judon

Literally anything but mac and cheese

One of my favorite holiday feuds — aside from me versus gift wrapping — is the ongoing battle between New England Patriots pass rusher Matthew Judon, and mac and cheese. Judon made national news last year when, in the buildup to Thanksgiving, he called mac and cheese “overrated” during then-teammate Kyle Van Noy’s YouTube series “Elite Eatz.”

In the days before Thanksgiving, Judon doubled-down:

“We gotta get macaroni and cheese off the table. ... It’s just cheese and noodles, it’s not that good ... Every time I try it, it’s the same thing. And it’s never gonna change. It’s never gonna get better, all right? I’m almost 30 now. I’m pretty set in my ways. And it’s disgusting. Get it off the table. The bathrooms will be less busy, and everybody will have a better day.”

The feud continues to this day. During training camp, Judon was confronted about his mac and cheese take by a Patriots fan, but simply glared back his response:

I do not know much, but I do know this: Mac and cheese will be nowhere near Judon’s Thanksgiving table.

Dan Campbell

A blender full of raw eggs mixed with supplements

No time off. The Lions play on Thanksgiving. No time to pig out or rest, so Campbell is just blending up some eggs with a bunch of vitamins and chugging it on his way out the door on the way to Ford Field.

Lincoln Riley

Overcooked brisket

As fathers grow older, they often try and become self-described experts at different things: Smoking meat, military history, commercial airplane identification, woodworking, lawn maintenance, or other such topics.

(Some of us even try and become experts at all of the above, much to the annoyance of the rest of the family, but I’ve said too much).

Perhaps USC head coach Lincoln Riley fits into that first column, given this effort at an Easter brisket from a while back:

I mean...sure?

Jaylen Brown


But he will think it is turkey, and then claim he did not have his glasses on.

LeBron James

A turkey cooked to perfection, following Martha Stewart’s method

Then LeBron will claim he was the one who told Martha Stewart about the process, which involves draping the turkey in a cheesecloth soaked in a butter and wine mixture, and then after roasting the turkey with the cheesecloth in place for a period of time, removing the cheesecloth and basting the turkey every thirty minutes.

Justin Jefferson

Turkey étouffée

Jefferson is having Thanksgiving at Kirk Cousins’ house, and who knows what the hell that man is making. So, the receiver is bringing a big ass pot of perfect turkey étouffée and bailing out Cousins so he looks way better than he really is. He’ll even let him take credit for it, because that’s the kind of dude Justin Jefferson is.

I don’t know if Cousins will be able to handle the heat of food cooked with more than just table salt and a tiny sprinkle of pre-ground black pepper, but we’re going to see what happens.

Tom Brady

More stuffing than you can imagine

It has been a trying season for Tom Brady. After retiring, and then un-retiring, Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been inconsistent at best on the field this season. The veteran quarterback has looked miserable in wins, worse in losses, faced criticism after comparing the NFL season to a military deployment, turned in perhaps the worst play of the season on an ill-advised throwback pass from Leonard Fournette, prompted a warning to all 32 teams because he cannot stop throwing Microsoft Surface tablets on the sideline, was potentially cursed by witches, and was recently sued a part of a proposed class-action suit relating to his involvement with crypto trading platform FTX.

So what does a man who has gone through all of that put on his Thanksgiving table? Well, if you Tom Brady, who notoriously avoids bread, after a year like that you are putting more stuffing on the table than one can imagine. Multiple varieties too. Perhaps a traditional Italian sausage stuffing, as well as an Eastern European variety that involves water chestnuts, raisins, and celery. Perhaps an apple-pecan stuffing, and a cornbread stuffing with sausage and fennel. Let’s throw in this cranberry and sage stuffing as well.

Brady is going to eat more stuffing this week than the rest of us combined.

Sauce Gardner

Zach Wilson’s dry-ass turkey covered in hot sauce

It’s on brand, right? Sauce and the Jets defense is the only thing making that team palatable this year, and so he’ll rush in to save the day with some incredible hot sauce that will make even the worst prepared main a little better.

Nobody thought he’d be able to have such an impact on Thanksgiving this early in his NFL career, but Saucer is proving everyone wrong.

Justin Fields

A home made gourmet meal constructed out of canned goods and leftovers

It’s a busy time for an NFL quarterback, so I can’t imagine Fields has time to shop himself. It was a nice of the Bears to drop off some ingredients for him, but it was mostly expired canned goods, leftover turkey, and a half-eaten pie.

That’s some garbage to work with, but Fields makes magic with it, creating a feast like nobody has experienced and turning nothing into something incredible. Was there any doubt? The man is a magician on the field, why not in the kitchen too?

Cristiano Ronaldo

Why are you even asking? Shut up. You’re wrong. It’s not up to you to know or criticize what I’m eating. Only Cristiano can decide that.

Okay, jeez... sorry we asked.