Taking To The Field For Mudbowl XVII

Friday, November 23rd 2007, 6:01 pm
By: News On 6

For many fans, football is just as much a part of Thanksgiving as the turkey. But, instead of just watching the game, one group of long-time friends decided to play one. The News On 6’s Ashli Sims reports the Tulsa pigskin tradition is now in its 17th year.

It’s called Mudbowl. But, the players say this Thanksgiving tradition is about more than just getting dirty. It's chilly and early on this frozen field, but the players are the very picture of dedication. The team selection is reminiscent of the school yard, which makes sense, since these guys started playing as teenagers.

"At the time it seemed like a good idea. At the time, I didn't envision coming with three car seats in my car, but that's what it's turned into,” said player Ryan Eshelman.

It began as a way to celebrate a friend's Thanksgiving birthday.

"The first one was in his pasture with snow everywhere. And, we kept falling in cow patties and everything else. We had so much fun that we decided it would be a good way to get everybody together every year and keep hitting each other,” said player Jay Eshelman.

They call it smash-mouth football. While the hits are hard, it's the trash-talking that really hurts.

"We call each other's manhood into question if we refuse to show up. It's a face-saving action more than anything. Avoiding insult and embarrassment,” said Ryan Eshelman.

There are flashes of brilliance. But, for every pretty play, there's a misstep. And, they remember they're not in high school anymore.

"Couple of years ago we got down to some lower numbers. But, looks like we're back on the rebound and some mid-life crisis is starting to show in some of us. It'll bring out the fun again," said Mudbowl player Jeff Beasley.

In 17 years, they've come home with sprains and bruises, but, so far, no broken bones.

Watch the video: Football: A Thanksgiving Tradition