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Prescott-Cousins showdown among reasons to give thanks in sports

2016thanksgivingBy DERON SNYDER

If you choose to count your blessings and be thankful just one day per year – though I suggest adding another 364 – you might as well go with the last Thursday in November. That way you should get a nice meal, a day off work and, if you’re truly blessed, some time spent with relatives you don’t despise.

Weekend shopping sprees with splendid sale prices are optional.

I strive to not take my universal assets for granted, recognizing that not everyone enjoys life, health and strength; food, clothing and shelter; family, friends and loved ones. Then there’s my very own super trifecta, my wife and daughters, Vanessa, Sierra and Sequoia.

Thanksgiving also means an NFL tripleheader, big rivalries in college football and the occasional flash point in college basketball – like Fort Wayne shocking No. 3 Indiana on Tuesday. But whether victims of huge upsets or underdogs walloped as expected, everyone can be grateful that this is just sports. It’s supposed to be fun and games, not life and death.

With that in mind, I’m thankful …

*For Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott. The Cowboys’ rookies have been a joy to watch and could revitalize NFL ratings. The nation was familiar with Elliott from the 2015 National Championship game. But few folks knew Prescott and none predicted the fourth-round pick would take Tony Romo’s job while leading Dallas to a 9-1 record. Now everyone knows the answer to: “Who’s Dak?”

*For Kirk Cousins and Robert Kelley. Washington’s answer to the aforementioned duo has us envisioning a Thanksgiving shootout. Cousins ranks third in the NFL in passing yards (3,091) and has a monster game Sunday against Green Bay. Kelley has rushed for 321 yards in three starts, for per-game (107) and per-carry (4.7) averages just behind Elliott’s (110 and 4.9). Kelley just needs to stop treating passes like they’re greased turkeys.

*For the Houston Texans and Brock Osweiler. If the Skins are seriously considering life without Cousins, Osweiler’s abject failure to merit his contract ($72 million) should change their minds. Banking on unknowns under center is dangerous. The Texans were convinced by Osweiler’s seven starts (86.4 passer rating) with Denver. Since last season Cousins has 26 starts and a 100.4 rating. Pay the man.

*For Mark Turgeon and John Thompson III. Twice in 24 years is better than nothing. While we hope another 22-year hiatus doesn’t lie ahead for the DC metro area, we appreciate these coaches for pitting Maryland and Georgetown in men’s basketball this season and last season. The games featured electric atmospheres and frantic finishes that made the wait worthwhile. If meeting every other year is the best they can do, we’ll take it.

*For Adam Silver and Michele Roberts. No one likes a work stoppage. Fortunately, the NBA won’t have one, thanks to Silver, the commissioner, and Roberts, the players union executive director. Either side can opt out of the current labor deal by Dec. 15, but they reportedly have agreed on framework for a new agreement. That’s progress. Their predecessors, David Stern and Billy Hunter, rarely agreed on Coke or Pepsi, let alone the meat and potatoes.

*For Mike Rizzo and the Nationals. Three division titles in five years beats no playoff series victories. And Washington can contend for the next few years before Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy are eligible to leave. The Nats will face arduous challengers with the Cubs, Dodgers and Mets also vying for the pennant. Though he hasn’t snapped historic curses like Theo Epstein, Rizzo has built teams as good as any since 2012.

*For Kevin Durant and Golden State. Leagues are better with super teams and villains. The Warriors became both when they lured Durant. His presence created a new, clean version of “Bad Boys,” a squad fans loves to hate. Golden State is 12-2 through Tuesday, with Durant averaging 26.9 points, 8.2 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.3 blocks. But the Clippers are a half-game ahead and the Cavaliers are only one game behind. Good stuff.

*For Urban Myer and Jim Harbaugh. The Ohio State-Michigan rivalry hasn’t been very competitive lately. OSU has won four in a row and 13 of the last 15. But the current iteration – with the Buckeyes’ Myer and the Wolverines’ Harbaugh in headsets – is in its second year. The coaches enter Saturday with teams ranked Nos. 2 and 3, respectively, and the potential to remake the Woody Hayes-Bo Schembechler drama from 40 years ago.

*For Gregg Popovich and Stan Van Gundy. Many folks prefer sports to remain a diversion, not a reflection. But San Antonio coach Popovich and Detroit coach Van Gundy used their NBA platforms to vent about the presidential election. “I’m a rich white guy, and I’m sick to my stomach about it,” Popovich said. Van Gundy said: “We should be ashamed for what we stand for as the United States today.” They have mics and aren’t afraid to use them.

*For John Wall and Bradley Beal. D.C. is home to one of the NBA’s best point guards and one of the league’s better shooting guards (when he’s healthy). Besides, having an NBA franchise in town allows us to see really good teams in person while waiting for the Wizards to catch up!

We all can be thankful for something.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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