The Forty-Year Line
Summary: A group of friends from Squirrel Hill continue a longstanding Thanksgiving tradition. Reporter: Ari Hait, WTAE Channel 4 Airtime: 2 minutes, 3 seconds on Nov. 28 Visuals: * Lifelong buddies patting each other on the back, and on the head, wringing necks -- all that sorta touchy-feely football-guy stuff. Highlights: * When the red-top-wearing anchor Michelle Wright states the obvious -- "Thanksgiving and football have long been American traditions" -- and red-top-wearing wonder twin Wendy Bell chimes in: "But for one group of friends this tradition has lasted for generations ... Ari Hait takes us to Squirrel Hill tonight, where a group of friends has used football as a lifetime bond." * When Hait informs us, "Everything you're seeing here has been done before -- 40 times before, in fact. They've lined the same field 40 times, they've gone over the rules 40 times. Every year since 1968, friends have gathered at this field in Squirrel Hill for their annual Turkey Bowl." * When 40-timer Gary Sablowsky recalls, "[W]e started when we were in ninth grade. And we just started with a bunch of people, and every year it's grown and grown and grown." * When, after a ref calls out "Let's play ball!" Hait adds, "And play ball they do. Maybe not as well or not as gracefully as in the past, but the football is not what's important here. It's the friends." * When Hait tells us, "[T]he kids who started the game now have kids of their own, who now play on the same field as their fathers." He continues, "But this year's Turkey Bowl could be a little bit different, because it's not just the 40th version of this Turkey Bowl -- some believe it also might be the last. * When Sablowsky surmises, "Well, with us getting kinda old, 40 is a nice number -- a nice round number -- and a lot of us are nice and round, so hopefully we'll go out on a high note." * When Hait counters, "But if you listen to all the players, you get the feeling, somehow, someway, they'll be back again next year." * When one of the original players, Eric Kruman, ponders the end of the tradition: "It would be a hole in my life. It really would be. And the fact that I'd have to watch the Macy's [Thanksgiving] Day parade wouldn't be so good either." * When Rachel Simon, a first-year player, disagrees with Sablowsky too: "That's ridiculous. They're not old enough yet. They're gonna be here with their walkers and canes when they're 70, trying to pitch around a ball. It's not ending." What We Learned: That Wright and Bell really do call each other the night before a broadcast and say, "Hey girlfriend, whatchu wearin' tomorrow?" Unanswered Question: So if you quit playing football after 40 years, that's ending on a high note? News Value: 4. A so-so story with a sentimental twist. Come on Gary, go all the way -- I wanna see you out there with your walker!