Tifton Gazette


June 11, 2014

Column: Food and football — two of my favorite subjects

TIFTON — Work is underway on our next issue of the Tifton Scene magazine, which will be centered around food. The following issue will be centered around football.

Well, being a big guy that just happens to love football, the work on those two issues have brought back some cool memories.

After years of being laughed at, I finally got some revenge in 1980. My beloved Atlanta Falcons were one of the NFL’s best teams that year, rolling to a 12-4 overall record and the NFC West championship. (No, I have never understood why the Falcons and Braves were in west division those days.)

My daddy and I would watch every game, and my mama finally got hooked and started watching it with us. She loved the way Steve Bartkowski threw the ball and she loved the “Grits Blitz” defense.

The Falcons began that season at 3-3. The seventh game of the year came at New Orleans, and the Falcons won 41-14.

This is where the food comes into the equation. My mama made cubed steak, rice, gravy and biscuits that Sunday. So we all though she should fix it again the next Sunday, and she did, and lo and behold the Falcons defeated the-then Los Angeles Rams, 13-10. That began a streak of nine straight wins and nine straight Sundays of cubed steak.

Unfortunately the streak ended the last game of the year as the Falcons were defeated by the Rams, 20-17.

But even now, 34 years later, I still believe my mama’s cooking helped the Falcons that year.

A couple of years after that is when I began writing sports and naturally that meant a lot of high school football games and food.

My daddy and I would save our money for Fridays – our big night. At home games in Ocilla, we would go to Mamie’s Seafood for our pregame meal. I would get hamburger steak, and my pop would get oysters. I don’t how many wins that brought the Indians of Irwin County, but my pop and I were always full.

If the band boosters had hamburgers and hot dogs left after games, we would always get some to take home. A cold hamburger was always a good way to end a high school football Friday night for some strange reason.

The funny thing about away games is I don’t really remember foods, but I do remember that Charlton County always seemed to have some really good hot chocolate.

I do remember going to Pic ‘N Save in Waycross to eat pregame meals with my daddy when we would go to games in Folkston or Nahunta.

But the thing about those games were no matter where we were, there was usually a thick smoke over the field before the games as the concession stand was busy grilling. To this day, that smell always brings me back to high school football.

I do remember other food items at sporting events, but none of them will bring the great memories like the smells and tastes of high school football Fridays. Oh, and Mama’s cubed steak on Sundays.

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Jensen Rainey (left) and Josie Arant will both be participating in the U.S. Kids Golf World Championship next week in North Carolina.

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