As I sat on Thanksgiving afternoon, contentedly rubbing the ever expanding squishiness around my middle I affectionately term my “food baby,” I slowly stopped feeling badly for the Detroit Lions (hell, I was not the one having problems inside the red zone). Instead I found myself wishing there was a female version of that all-time Sir Mix-a-Lot classic, “I Like Big Butts.” My eyes wandered the sidelines, searching for Steve Mariucci. The rest of Steve Mariucci, I mean. The twinkling blue eyes were still there, but I realized I miss the Steve of old, the 49er’s Steve. The Steve with a gut as radial as his smile was radiant.

Mock all you want, but I am the first to admit, in these days of Hydroxy-Cut, metrosexuals and body fat calipers, I miss the bygone era of Mariucci’s belly. It personally hurts me that Phil Mickelson values the success of his golf game more than his own cuddliness (though he does look more comfortable now that he doesn’t need an, um, underwire). I have more than sentimental reasons for cheering on John Daly’s resurgence. And a retired Charles Barkley, well, lets just say I don’t miss his playing weight, and I don’t tune in just for his commentary.

Before you jump to conclusions, it’s not that I love my boys on the verge of heart attack or stroke. Tom Arnold does nothing for me. But when it comes to ex-athletes (and, let’s be honest, current athletes when we are talking the state of the NFL or half of Major League Baseball), where time has taken its toll, cushioning has set in, and good dinners have replaced glory days, I couldn’t be a happier camper.

So boys, enjoy your Thanksgiving leftovers on me. Take the Taco Bell challenge. Ask McDonald’s to bring back Super Size just for you. They are called Hungry Man dinners for a reason. Other girls can have their six pack abs; I prefer a man with a six pack, neh, a case of Natty Lite.

Take your Lance Armstrongs and Laird Hamiltons. I am more than happy with a pleasantly pudgy Papi. It might take Warren Sapp to make me feel delicate, but that’s why I start my Thanksgiving list by giving thanks for the Warren Sapps of the world. I obviously live in the wrong time, much more suited to the days when portliness meant power. But god bless gluttony.

On that note, other things for which I am thankful:

The new Sports Guy cartoon. If you haven’t seen this go to I love you, Sports Guy, we both know this, but I have to give thanks that, after this, I officially cannot ever have the worst idea in the history of the world. Actually, I think the BCS already saved us both on that account.

I am inclined to say the Red Sox. I have to say the Red Sox. This is my column; I will say Red Sox as much as I want. Red Sox. Red Sox. Red Sox. Red Sox. Red Sox.

Armrests on airplanes. They act as wonderful barriers between you and the person with whom you are blessed to travel. I am nothing if not a misanthrope. Sadly, on my most recent trip, the arm rest never managed to leave its full upright and locked position. Yes, it is hypocritical of me to say this after praising the girth of Sir Charles, but you try flying to Nashville with the use of only two-thirds of your seat and then come talk to me.

Thank you for the start of college basketball season. Not that my fantasy team fell apart when Priest Holmes fell apart. Not that it broke my heart to see UVA lose the Commonwealth Classic to a bunch of castrated no-Vick playing Hokies. Not that I am not jumping up and down with anticipation, ready to watch the BSC return a less than unanimous muddled-up National Champion. Its just time for a trip to Tobacco Road, that’s all.

Clocks at the back of classrooms. I am thankful for the thought, though the practice could use some improvement. Sadly, I believe some of our professors see these clocks as works of art, rather than as practical tools to be used to release us. Therefore, I would be very much more thankful for a general class in telling time. Or replace those normal round-faced time pieces with coo-coo clocks.

I give thanks that Ron Artest managed to clear his calendar for the rest of basketball season. It’s just a tragedy to me that the NBA season keeps preventing the production of high-quality albums. Between bickering with Kobe and moving to Miami, we haven’t heard a musical peep from Shaq in ages. I bet you didn’t even remember that his German following crowned him the “Dirk Nowitzki of Rap.” Not that I am pleased with the demise of the Eastern Conference, but hopefully Artest can fill this aching void.

Brothers. Parents. Cousins. Dogs with happy eyes and active tails. Anyone who is just happy you arrived for the holiday in one piece and managed to stay quiet as you juggled a glass of red wine and a beer in one hand against a whiskey-coke and a turkey leg in the other. It balances, I promise. And then they let you sleep until 1 pm the next day without a word. Thank goodness for family.

Rebecca Agule is a 1L.

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