Besides being known as one of the best Thanksgiving Day football rivalries in the state, the Foxborough-Mansfield game is about becoming part of town's history.
The players in this year's game will go on to be successful in football or other sports at the collegiate level.
They'll go on to be successful in their careers, maybe opening up their own businesses in Foxborough or Mansfield or elsewhere.
But if you do something to standout this morning, you'll be part of the history of the rivalry. For at least two or three hours every Thanksgiving, you'll mostly be remembered for what you did for either Foxborough or Mansfield.
The numbers of people in that category are in the thousands by now. For the 75th anniversary game in 2005, editor Jeff Peterson and I spent hours researching all of the game for a special section in the Foxboro Reporter and the Sun Chronicle and the numbers jumped off the pages.
In the bounded newspaper books, those names came alive again, just like they will today at Mansfield's Alumni Field when people talk about the great games and names of years past.
Every year, when Foxborough-Mansfield rolls, I start thinking about some of those players in this 82-year history.
While the memories are countless, here's my top five:
- 2002-Foxborough's Mike Myers went to a great career at Amherst College, but mention his name today and it will be all about his 26-yard field in the closing seconds at a frozen Memorial Park. Since then, if a Foxborough fan wants to get under the skin of a Mansfield fan, all they have to say is "How about that Myers' kick?"
- 1992-It was one of the worst Thanksgiving Day game weather-wise – cold, rainy and Memorial Park was a sea of mud. That didn't stop Omari Walker, who ran for 168 yards, as Mansfield went on to win, 32-2, over the Warriors on their way to their first Super Bowl title. Walker went on to be a captain at Boston College, but today, when his teammates are honored at halftime, it will be all about 1992.
- 1996-Joe Todd went on to make the opening day roster of the New York Jets as a linebacker-special team players, but today, he will be remembered for the game he had in 1996 as Mansfield beat Foxborough, 47-34, in what is considered to be the best game in the history of the rivalry. After Foxborough's Rick Cetrone returned the open kickoff 95-yard for a touchdown, Todd answered with a 78-yard run on his way to an MVP performance with a 191 yards rushing. He is now an assistant coach for the Hornets. Mansfeld quarterback Matt McLaughln threw for 218 yards and Foxborough's Ken Farrow added 185.
- 2004-Mansfield's Brett McDermott was one of the best receivers in Hornet history and went on to be a standout at Holy Cross and was signed as a free agent by the Indianapolis Colts before being cut in training camp. Today, though, when his name is brought up, it was for a defensive play in the 2004 game. As a Foxborough player went across the midfield, McDermott, playing defensive back, delivered a crushing blow, causing a game changing fumble in a 34-7 win in the first Thanksgiving Day game at Mansfield's Alumni Field.
- Friends-Mostly when I think about Mansfield-Foxborough, which I had the honor to cover at various spots in the 1990s, and 2000s, I think of the people. Some who will be on the sideline today, like Mansfield team photographer Dave Redding, the Hornets' No. 1 fan, but I'll also think about people who are no longer with us, like Mansfield's Al DeSimone, the former Mansfield Gridiron Club President and volunteer coach. Many Thanksgiving games started with a hug from Al, even when I was working with the "enemy" as the sports editor of the Foxboro Reporter. Speaking of the Reporter, no one has his fingerprints on this rivalry more than the late Vin Igo, who was the Foxborough team manager in high school and wrote and photographed the series over a lengthy career. When I was researching the history of the rivalry, Vin was the "go-to" guy to fill in all the details.
Well. it's time to make new memories in the 2012 game.