Lions on the Menu: Imagining Players as Thanksgiving Dishes


The leaves are down, the turkey’s in the oven, and the Detroit Lions are serving up something special for their annual Thanksgiving showdown. This year, it’s not just about the mashed potatoes and gravy; the Lions (8-2) are hungry for an NFC North title. As they prepare to tackle the Green Bay Packers (4-6), let’s have some fun.

How about we mix up the Lions with our Thanksgiving menu? Imagine the players as the dishes in our Thanksgiving feast—a light-hearted pre-game snack for all the Lions fans out there.

Comparing Lions Players to Thanksgiving Dishes

Jared Goff as TURKEY

  • Main Attraction: Just as the turkey is the centerpiece of the Thanksgiving table, Goff is the focal point of the Lions’ offense. His performance, much like the turkey’s presence, sets the tone for the game.
  • Surprise Element: Goff, much like a well-prepared turkey, can surprise and exceed expectations. Despite being doubted by some, he has shown that he can deliver results, just as a golden-brown turkey can change the minds of those who were hoping for ham.
  • Steady Hand (er, leg?): A turkey is expected to be satisfying and filling, consistently so every Thanksgiving. In the same way, Goff is known for his accuracy and efficiency, providing a reliable and consistent presence for his team.

Goff is the turkey—traditional, occasionally surprising, but always central to the feast.

Amon-Ra St. Brown as GRAVY

  • The Great Enhancer: St. Brown, like a rich, velvety gravy, is the secret ingredient that ties the Lions’ offensive feast together. Like the versatile gravy that brings out the best in every dish, St. Brown elevates the team’s play with his reliable catches and impeccable route running.
  • Secret Weapon: Often overlooked, gravy doesn’t immediately stand out like the turkey or other side dishes, much like how St. Brown was underrated and passed on in the draft. However, gravy unifies a plate, much like St. Brown’s indispensable role in tying the team’s offense together.
  • Mr. Versatility: Gravy can be paired with almost every dish, from turkey to mashed potatoes to stuffing. Similarly, St. Brown adapts to different roles—a catch here, a dash there—making him as versatile as gravy is essential.

St. Brown, like gravy, is essential to the team’s harmony.


  • Zest and Zip: Williams brings an electrifying energy to the game, akin to the tangy and zesty kick that spicy cranberry sauce adds to a Thanksgiving plate.
  • Impactful, Even in Small Quantities: Williams doesn’t need to be on the field all the time to impact the game significantly. Just a dollop of his playmaking ability, like a spoonful of cranberry sauce, can drastically alter the landscape of the game, adding a layer of excitement and unpredictability.
  • Untapped Potential: Just as Williams’ presence on the field opens up space and opportunities for his teammates, spicy cranberry sauce complements and enhances other dishes, making them more enjoyable and creating a more dynamic dining experience.

Williams, the team’s cranberry sauce, adds an electrifying and flavorful twist to the game with every play.


  • Solid Base: The sweet potato casserole serves as the robust, hearty base of the dish. This represents Montgomery’s solid, dependable running style, providing a strong foundation for the Lions’ ground game. He’s the essential core of the dish, offering substance and reliability.
  • Flash of Excitement: The spiced marshmallows, melted on top of the casserole, add a layer of excitement and flair. They represent Gibbs’ dynamic, explosive play style. His quick, shifty moves and ability to perform multiple roles on offense add that extra ‘spice’ to the team’s offensive game plan.
  • Complementary Duo: Montgomery’s reliable ground game is the perfect foundation, allowing Gibbs’ electrifying plays to shine, much like how the savory depth of sweet potatoes is elevated by the sweet and spicy topping of marshmallows.

Montgomery and Gibbs together are like a well-crafted sweet potato casserole—a perfect blend of strength and excitement, where the reliable base is perfectly accented by a touch of dynamic sweetness on top.


  • Under-appreciated Talent: Collard greens are a versatile dish that requires time and effort to prepare, like the multifaceted role LaPorta plays on the team. As a tight end, he contributes both to the offensive blocking and as a reliable pass catcher, akin to how collard greens can complement various aspects of a Thanksgiving meal.
  • Steady and Strong: Just as many people might underestimate collard greens compared to other flashier side dishes, LaPorta entered the scene with modest expectations. However, both have proven their worth impressively – LaPorta with his record-breaking season and collard greens with their rich, flavorful presence on the table.
  • Tough and Tasty: Collard greens, often cooked low and slow, bring a lot of flavors despite their quiet presence among more dominant dishes. Similarly, LaPorta, while maintaining a quiet demeanor, has a significant impact on the field, especially when making crucial catches at key moments.

LaPorta is the collard green—quietly essential, reliably strong.

Penei Sewell and the Offensive Line as MASHED POTATOES

  • Sturdy Foundation: Mashed potatoes are often seen as the foundation of the Thanksgiving meal, providing a consistent and comforting presence. Similarly, Sewell and the Lions’ offensive line are the identity and backbone of the team, providing stability and reliability in every game.
  • Adaptable Heroes: Like mashed potatoes that can be smooth or chunky, this line adapts to every play’s flavor. Their flexibility in adapting to various game situations and starting lineups mirrors how mashed potatoes can be enjoyed in numerous ways, always a crowd-pleaser.
  • Unsung Heroes: Though not always in the spotlight, their role is as crucial as mashed potatoes in a satisfying Thanksgiving meal. They provide the base that every successful play needs to take off, spiced up with a dash of aggressive play.

They’re the foundation, like mashed potatoes—always there, always dependable.

Aidan Hutchinson, Alim McNeill and the Defensive Line as STUFFING

  • Diverse Mix: Their combination of skills—from Hutchinson’s edge rushing to McNeill’s interior defense—is as varied and essential as the ingredients in a good stuffing, each adding unique value to the team’s defense.
  • Polarizing Potential: Stuffing can be quite polarizing—some love it, others might not—similar to the varied performances of the Lions’ defensive line this season. However, when they click, they’re an undeniable force capable of turning skeptics into believers.
  • Key to Success: Stuffing enhances other dishes on the Thanksgiving table. Similarly, an effective defensive line can elevate the performance of the secondary by applying pressure, giving cornerbacks more time against opposing receivers.

Hutchinson and the defensive line are the stuffing—a blend of talents that, when mixed right, can be the highlight of the Lions’ defensive feast.

Alex Anzalone as MAC ‘N CHEESE

  • Unexpected Star: Once doubted, Anzalone has emerged as a key player, like mac ‘n cheese becoming a non-traditional but now essential part of Thanksgiving, winning hearts with versatility and comfort.
  • Versatile Performer: Mac ‘n cheese is known for its versatility and ability to please a wide range of tastes, much like Anzalone’s diverse skills on the field. His ability to excel in pass coverage and be a force in the pass rush reflects the multifaceted nature of mac ‘n cheese, beloved by many in various forms.
  • Standout Character: Anzalone’s distinctive presence, marked by his flowing blonde hair and on-field charisma, is as memorable as a rich, creamy mac ‘n cheese.

Anzalone, like mac ‘n cheese, brings unexpected delight—variable, comforting, and unforgettable.


  • Valuable Addition: Just as green bean casserole is a cherished addition to many Thanksgiving tables, Sutton’s signing from the Pittsburgh Steelers represents a significant and valuable addition to the Lions’ defense. His presence has enhanced the team’s defensive capabilities, similar to how green bean casserole adds a special touch to the Thanksgiving meal.
  • Reliable and Consistent: Like the casserole’s comforting predictability, Sutton offers a reliable and steady performance, anchoring the secondary.
  • Understated yet Impactful: The green bean casserole combines the soft texture of the beans with the crispy crunch of the onions on top. This mirrors Sutton’s versatile playing style, where he can both cover top receivers with finesse and also make thunderous, impactful tackles in the backfield.

Sutton, like a green bean casserole, might not always grab the headlines, but his consistent, quality play is integral to the Lions’ defense.


  • Underdog Champion: Brussels sprouts are often underestimated or not universally liked, similar to how Jacobs, as an undrafted free agent, might have been initially overlooked. Yet, both have the ability to turn opinions around with their quality—Jacobs with his impressive play on the field and Brussels sprouts when cooked well, especially with additions like bacon.
  • Resilient and Reliable: Just like Brussels sprouts keep showing up on the Thanksgiving table despite mixed opinions, Jacobs has shown resilience and persistence in his career. His journey from undrafted free agent to a starting cornerback exemplifies determination and grit.
  • Bold and Beneficial: Jacobs’ playstyle, marked by a chip on his shoulder, brings an edge to the Lions’ secondary. Just as Brussels sprouts can transform into a delightful dish when cooked with the right ingredients, Jacobs has shown the potential to transform and elevate his game, proving to be as good as any corner out there when he’s at his best.

Jacobs, much like Brussels sprouts, is a testament to the idea that underestimation can lead to pleasant surprises.

Brian Branch as GLAZED CARROTS

  • Sweet Surprise: Glazed carrots are known for their sweet flavor, but they can also carry a hint of spice, depending on the preparation. This mirrors Branch’s playing style: he’s “sweet” in terms of being a pleasant surprise as a rookie, “tough” in his physicality and tackling, and “spicy” when he brings an aggressive edge to his play.
  • Growing Impact: His evolution from a rookie to a significant defensive player reflects the carrots’ journey from raw to a nuanced side dish, developing complexity and depth over time.
  • Bright and Bold: Glazed carrots can add a burst of color and flavor to a meal, much like how Branch’s elite instincts have provided sparks to the Lions’ defense. His intuitive plays add excitement and effectiveness, similar to how the sweet glaze enhances the carrots.

Branch is the glazed carrot—sweet, evolving, and bringing a new flavor to the game.

Kerby Joseph and Tracy Walker as PUMPKIN AND PECAN PIE

  • Diverse Yet Complementary Choices: Just as Thanksgiving dinners often feature both pumpkin and pecan pies to cater to different preferences, Joseph and Walker offer diverse yet complementary skills in the Lions’ secondary. Both types of pie, usually served at the end of the meal, require patience, much like how safeties Joseph and Walker observe the field and wait for the right moment to pounce. Their roles in the secondary are about timing and seizing opportunities, similar to the anticipation and satisfaction of enjoying a slice of pie after a hearty meal.
  • Kerby Joseph as Pumpkin Pie: Joseph’s gamesmanship and ability to lure quarterbacks into throwing interceptions can be likened to the classic appeal of pumpkin pie, a traditional favorite that can surprise with its depth and flavor. His explosive plays are akin to the rich, spiced flavor of pumpkin pie that delivers more than meets the eye.
  • Tracy Walker as Pecan Pie: Walker’s big hits and consistent performance, even after returning from an injury, resonate with the rich and indulgent nature of pecan pie. Just as pecan pie is known for its satisfying texture and depth, Walker provides a reliable and impactful presence in the defense, offering depth and resilience.
  • Enhanced with Whipped Cream: The addition of whipped cream enhances both pies, just as Joseph and Walker’s individual skills are enhanced when they play together. Their combined efforts in the secondary are like the perfect finishing touch of whipped cream, making a good thing even better.

Like the classic dessert duo, Joseph and Walker bring a sweet end to the defensive meal. Joseph’s interceptions are the smooth, velvety pumpkin filling, while Walker’s hits are the crunchy, nutty pecans on top.

Touchdowns, not Tryptophan 

Each Lions player contributes their own unique flavor to this team’s recipe for success. As you gather around your Thanksgiving table, cheering on the Lions in their quest for victory, remember this playful comparison and savor the game as you would a delicious Thanksgiving feast. Let’s raise our glasses to the Lions, who bring us together in celebration—not just of football but of unity, tradition, and the shared joy of being part of something bigger. Happy Thanksgiving!


For more from our Detroit Lions beat writer, Matt Broder, check him out on Twitter here: @mattbro21


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Original Photo Credit: © Kirthmon F. Dozier / USA TODAY NETWORK