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Billy Reed: A happy early Thanksgiving to all, and giving thanks for the escape sport offers this holiday


A happy early Thanksgiving to all readers of the Northern Kentucky Tribune and especially those who take the time to read the musings in this space. I’m grateful to editor Judy Clabes and her son Jacob for allowing me to be part of the best lineup of writers on any website in Kentucky. I will stick to that until somebody proves me wrong, which I’m confident nobody can.

(Thank you for indulging me in that seamless plug. We shall now return to our regular programming.)

Judy gives me the freedom to stray from sports every now and then, but I have to write about football at Thanksgiving because the two are exorbitantly entwined in my mind. The Detroit Lions always used to play an NFL football game, and the annual Male-Manual high school game caused families from the two schools to eat late dinners.

Billy Reed is a member of the U.S. Basketball Writers Hall of Fame, the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame, the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame and the Transylvania University Hall of Fame. He has been named Kentucky Sports Writer of the Year eight times and has won the Eclipse Award three times. Reed has written about a multitude of sports events for over four decades and is perhaps one of the most knowledgeable writers on the Kentucky Derby. His book “Last of a BReed” is available on Amazon.

By the way, I went to Manual one year, when I was in the seventh grade in 1955-56. I remember the principal, Mr. A.J. Reis, going on stage to lead cheers. That year the Crimson had a speedy offense built around halfback Mike Hemmer and quarterback Dennis Cebe. Male had a big running back named Eddie Wright, who seemed to run off tackle every play.

The field was sloppy and Male won, 6-0.

The usual arguments about sports will take place in a lot of households, which is far better than talking about politics. Donald Trump and his goons have taken much from us, including our sense of goodwill and optimism, but sports, thank heavens, provides an alternative to his world-class case of Narcissistic Personality Syndrome. I can’t imagine there will be much giving of thanks in the Trump Household because the family knows all good things come from him.

But I’m not going to let the traitor intrude on my Thanksgiving. I will focus on more important things, such as turkey and dressing, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie.

And, of course, the big sports question around these parts: Who’s going to win the Kentucky-Louisville game the Saturday after Thanksgiving at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium?

The Wildcats will bring an 8-3 record into the game, while Louisville is 6-5. Once again, Coach Mark Stoops has raised the bar in Lexington. There is nothing not to like about him, but I just can’t warm up to him. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s the way he makes an ass of himself on the sideline during games. Or maybe it’s because he’s as colorful and quotable as an oyster.

On the other side, I haven’t seen enough of UofL coach Scott Satterfield to have an opinion. But he will have the best player on the field in multi-talented quarterback Malik Cunningham, so I’ll certainly be interested in his offensive game plan.

On the other side of the ball, UK has a more balanced attack that ripped through hapless New Mexico State on Saturday. Quarterback Will Levis, running back Christopher Rodriguez, and receivers Wan’Dale Robinson and Josh Ali all put up big numbers.

I’ve gone back and forth on this one. A smart guy would pick UK and give the points. But I like to take a risk when I can justify it, so I’m picking the Cards. If that happens, the next question will be how many UK fans will view the season as ruined. Shame on those who do. Kentucky still isn’t good enough to view 8-4 as anything but good.

I do have one request of Male and Manual: Can you please move the Old Rivalry game back to Thanksgiving? That would make it special again, and not just another game on the calendar.


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