What I Am Thankful For

By Chris Johnson
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As Thanksgiving is here it makes me want to reflect on everything I am thankful for.  So, instead of my everyday, run-of-the-mill blog, I wanted to reflect on what to give thanks to this year, just like we used to do way back in grade school.  So this year, here is what makes me truly thankful.

I am very thankful to spend this Thanksgiving with my family and great friends.  My friends and family are always there to support me in everything I do, and am truly grateful to have them in my life.  I am thankful that my family only lives 45 minutes up the road in Statesville, so I shouldn’t be stuck on I-77 for any longer than two-and-a-half hours in traffic.  I am thankful to be off of work for the next four days – this is a much needed break for me, as well as I am sure lots of you.

I am thankful for the Carolina Panthers.  Even though they have not exactly lived up to the expectations that I had hoped for this season, they have at least been more competitive.  I am thankful to see Cam Newton be all we had hoped for and more in a quarterback.  Even though a lot of us were skeptical when we drafted him, I see a franchise quarterback in him and many good things to come in his future.  Cam is also still very much in contention for rookie of the year, an achievement I would like to see him finish the season strong and win.  I am thankful for the re-emergence of Steve Smith.  We haven’t seen numbers like this from Smitty in a few years, and even though our record isn’t great, Newton and Smith at least make the Panthers fantasy-relevant.  I am thankful to see receiving tight ends again.  Jeremy Shockey and Greg Olsen have both been great this season in the passing game, something I haven’t seen in Carolina since Wesley Walls.  Not only in Carolina has this been a year where tight ends are really making a difference in the passing game, but all over the NFL we are seeing the ball spread around more.  It makes the game more fun to watch.  I am thankful for Ron Rivera.  He doesn’t make excuses or throw out lame clichés when we lose – he just states that we need to get better.  I don’t want to hear the phrase “it is what it is” ever come out of another Carolina Panthers coach’s mouth.

I am thankful college basketball is here.  With the NBA lockout still looming (not thankful for that) I am glad that there is still competitive basketball to watch.  This year already has seen Carolina playing on the aircraft carrier to start things off, and the Maui Invitational has been great as well.  Even early in the season there is some great basketball on right now.  I am thankful Coach K has already surpassed Bobby Knight for the record, that way Blue Devil fans will have something to hang their hats on this season when they don’t quite reach their expectations for the year.  I know it’s still early, but is it ever really early to throw in a jab when you are a Carolina fan?

I am thankful for rivalry week to be here in college football.  From Alabama/Auburn, to Penn State/Wisconsin, to South Carolina/Clemson, to Northwestern/Illinois, there are great games on this weekend all over the country that will decide a lot of the bowl game picture.  Speaking of college bowl games, I am thankful that the BCS has opened up to hopefully see two SEC teams battle it out for the national title.  Although I am sure Bruce still thinks South Carolina should be involved in the BCS picture somehow, I am plenty happy with the possible Alabama and LSU rematch.  Let’s face it: an SEC team is going to win the title anyway, so we might as well watch two of them battle it out.

I am thankful for the awesome Thanksgiving Day games we have in the NFL this year.  In past years it has been a coin flip Cowboys game and whoever was just going to beat the Lions.  This year the Lions have been playing better than I can ever remember, and I have been looking at that game with Green Bay since about week four.  The Cowboys are a team that has really turned it on as of late – but speaking of teams that are hot right now, how about the Miami Dolphins?  The Dolphins have won the past three straight by a combined score of 86-20.  Matt Moore has really turned things around in South Beach, and this will be no cake walk for the Cowboys as they are in a fight for the division.  The night game will feature the two Harbaugh brothers as the Ravens take on the 49ers.  Will the Niners be able to continue their winning streak against another tough defense?  And which Ravens team will show up to play on turkey day, the team that swept the Steelers or the one that lost to Jacksonville and Seattle?

There are so many things to be thankful for this year.  I could go on and on, but seeing as how there is enough food to kill a small elephant five feet away from me I am going to go.  Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

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