Cutler's Comments

Nov 21, 2012 2:07 PM by Alan Cutler

Thanksgiving For Joker Feels Different

Turkey time always changes practice time and schedules for football teams.

"We will get together tonight and have our team Thanksgiving meal at about 5 o'clock," Joker Phillips said Wednesday. "Then we will practice first thing in the morning and allow the guys that are local to go home after practice. The non-travel squad will be dismissed and the guys that are traveling will have the opportunity to go either home or with some family or with other players. Many of them are going to some of the coaches' houses and then we will get back here at 1:30 Friday afternoon. So we will give them Thursday afternoon and Friday morning."

As far as playing for a coach who is history after Saturday, Joker is happy with the way the team has responded.

"It was a good practice because we have good kids," Phillips said. "That is the thing that you notice in a time like this. They could easily have attitudes or say, ‘I'm not listening to you' but they are allowing us to push them during this time."

On Thursday, Joker's house will be full with family members and players who can't go home.

"We love having them over there and being around family and friends this time or year," Phillips said. "We will serve food also. My family always goes out this time of year and serves food to the needy and we will do that also and do some things to let all the young ones understand how thankful they are. It is not so much for us grownups, but it's more for the teenagers of the family and let them know how thankful we are."

Because he no longer has to worry about the future of the program, Joker expects to enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday more.

"Being here, being home and the place that I love the most, your brain never turns off because the whole time, from 2003 to now, my brain never turned off from thinking ‘How can we make this thing better?'" says Joker.

"I really never got a good night's sleep because the whole time my mind was churning on how we can make this better. I would wake up in the middle of the night and think about how we could make this better, how can we make this better. Why? Because its home. I wanted to make it the best it could possibly be. I think in the last two weeks that has changed a little bit. When I was talking about trying to separate, I didn't mean separate from wearing the gear, but to separate and let my mind be clear and not always try to think about making this thing better. It gave me a chance to get some rest, and I will do it this Thanksgiving as well. I know that might sound weird, but it's the truth in thinking about this thing, that is how it has been. Same with my wife, she has been the same way."

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