Thanksgiving is a great time to sit down with family, watch football, eat a whole lot, and enjoy each other’s company. It’s also a perfect way for everyone to get on each other’s nerves — especially when the wacky extended family shows up.
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In that spirit, the meeting of the Buffalo Bills and Dallas Cowboys in November is as fitting a Thanksgiving matchup as you can get.
The Cowboys have been a staple on the holiday since 1966, and the Bills haven’t played a Thanksgiving game in 25 years. But Buffalo fans know how to have a good (sometimes destructive) time, and how to get under another fanbase’s skin. What’s more Thanksgiving than that?
They even got the family bickering started way ahead of time with a quasi-debate over which team is more about football. That pot was stirred by former Cowboys receiver Cole Beasley, who signed with the Bills in March and told The Athletic that Buffalo is “100 percent about ball and not a show or a brand.”
When the two teams meet on Thanksgiving, the table will be set (pun very intended) for a game that might mirror your family’s dinner table:
Grandpa who has no filter: Jerry Jones, owner, Cowboys
Depending who you ask, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is either a football pioneer who turned his team into a global brand, or an offbeat character who likes to take the spotlight from Cowboys players. The reality is probably some kind of mix of both.
Jones probably won’t be the drunk uncle this Thanksgiving, although he’s been that before too. But invite Jerry to the table and you’ll probably get a soundbite to remember.
Annoying little brother: Cole Beasley, WR, Bills
Beasley climbed from undrafted free agent to fan favorite in his seven seasons with the Cowboys. So returning home for the holiday will be a bit of a family reunion for the Texas native.
The problem is that Beasley has burned through a lot of the goodwill he built in Dallas since joining the Bills in free agency.
In March, he zinged the Cowboys for not winning during his time with the team, and in April, he said “Buffalo shits on Dallas” when it comes to the team facilities. Even when he praised Bills passer Josh Allen and called him “the best athlete I’ve ever played with at quarterback,” it sounded like a dig at Dak Prescott.
He’s also complained about the way he was used offensively, accused the Cowboys front office of deciding who gets offensive touches, and said he’s glad to be in Buffalo where football “is purer.”
Maybe Beasley is just talking up his new team. He’ll still likely get a warm welcome from the Dallas crowd — though if he keeps talking to the media about the Cowboys, that could change.
Dad who keeps the peace: Dak Prescott, QB, Cowboys
There are a lot of lights and cameras in Dallas, and with that comes the risk of the team devolving into a soap opera. For the most part it hasn’t in recent years, and that’s because the drama doesn’t follow Prescott.
Dez Bryant and Cole Beasley both complained about their usage in the Cowboys’ offense before their departures, but the griping never boiled over into a real conflict. Even the potentially awkward transition from Tony Romo to Prescott in 2016 ended up being smooth.
In a pressure cooker environment, Prescott has been Steady Eddie for the Cowboys since day one.
Jones has called Prescott “The Daddy” a few times in the last few years. He probably doesn’t mean it the same way I do, but it’s apt either way.
The new significant other: Ed Oliver, DL, Bills
Thanksgiving’s best chance at awkwardness is when someone brings a new boyfriend or girlfriend to the dinner table. The most significant newbie this November is Oliver, the No. 9 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.
He’ll be the only first-round rookie in the game, because the Cowboys traded away their pick to get Amari Cooper a year ago.
Oliver was born and raised in Houston, Texas, and played his college football at the University of Houston. He’ll have to wait until Thanksgiving to play his first professional game back in his home state — not a bad time of the year to leave Buffalo for a warmer part of the country.
The wise elder: Frank Gore, RB, Bills
Gore has been playing in the NFL since approximately 1972, and if can get just 252 more rushing yards, he’ll be the fourth player to ever crack the 15,000 mark. Judging by the shrinking numbers that players put up on the ground, he might even be the last to reach that milestone too.
He’s five years older than any of the other running backs on the Bills’ roster and that team has just about the oldest running back corps you can possibly have with LeSean McCoy turning 31 soon.
Even if he’s not a man of many words, younger players listen when he has something to say — as they should.
The television: Jason Garrett, coach, Cowboys
Inanimate piece of machinery? Yep, that’s Garrett.
The kid who won’t sit still: Josh Allen, QB, Bills
Buffalo drafted Josh Allen because he’s a 6’5, 237-pound quarterback with a rocket for an arm. He fits the prototype of a statue in the pocket — but so far in the NFL, Allen’s done his best work as a runner.
He’s even prone to hurdle a defender or two.