Cooking not on Tigers’ menu

Not many Tigers football players get involved in preparing holiday feasts.
Thursday, November 27, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 2:45 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

There are few culinary experts on the Missouri football team. Relatives who usually cook Thanksgiving dinner for the players will have an easier time this year, though.

The team will practice this morning in preparation for its game against Iowa State on Saturday. Afterwards, the team will eat together in the press box around 1 p.m. Unless their family lives near Columbia, players will not be able to go home for Thanksgiving.

If the players had been able to travel home for the holiday, many said chances are they would lounge while others cook.

“I stay out of the kitchen unless it’s to eat,” defensive tackle Atiyyah Ellison said. “I’ll help make stuffing, but that’s about it.”

Tight end J.D. McCoy, 22, said, for now, he figures it’s best to watch his relatives make the meal.

“I want to learn, but I’m too young still,” McCoy said. “I’m going to wait a few years.”

Senior receiver Darius Outlaw has helped prepare his family’s meal in the past, but after last year, he might be banned from doing so. When Outlaw went home to Powder Springs, Ga., he tried to help his father make fried turkey. It did not go well.

“I try to fry the turkey, but every time I’ve tried to fry the turkey I’ve burnt it,” Outlaw said. “That’s when I had to go move over to the sweet potato pie, that was a little bit easier.”

Cornerback Michael Harden does not wake up early enough to help.

“I wouldn’t get up until about 2 in the afternoon,” Harden said. “I would sleep, just to know that I can sleep that long.”

Sophomore guard Tony Palmer seems to be the only Tiger who cooks.

“I help my mom make the stuffing and the pumpkin pie,” Palmer said.

Some players’ families are making the trip to Columbia for Thanksgiving. Outside safety David Overstreet is expecting his mother, aunt, sister, brother-in-law and nephew for the weekend. Overstreet will attend the team’s festivities and then have seconds at his apartment.

“They’re going to stay for a couple days, instead of just coming to the game,” Overstreet said.

Kickoff returner Shirdonya Mitchell’s family is traveling from Dallas for the holiday. Mitchell invited cornerback Calvin Washington, a fellow Texan, to his apartment for the festivities.

Washington is looking forward to the home-cooked meal, but he will miss his own family’s customs. Every time he goes home, Washington said his extended family members question him like he’s at a job interview.

“They’re like, ‘So what’s going on, any girlfriends?’ and all that stuff,” Washington said. “They give me the whole interrogation thing, that’s fun.”

After eating, many Tigers plan to watch the NFL games on TV. What is relaxing for most puts Washington in the hot seat. When Washington is at home in Lancaster, Texas, his father, Calvin Washington, Sr., points out some of the professional players’ techniques.

“He’ll critique me, ‘See, that’s what you could be doing, you’ve got to do this, you’ve got to do that,” Washington said. “It’s funny. He always has something funny to say.”

Offensive tackle Rob Droege’s family traditionally waits until Friday to have its dinner. Droege is the youngest in his family, and on the actual holiday the siblings go to their significant others’ gatherings.

“We’ve just always done it a day later so we could have two,” Droege said.

Two days, two Thanksgiving dinners – a football player’s dream

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