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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

Texas A&M utility Gavin Grahovac (9) throws the ball during A&Ms game against Georgia on Friday, April 26, 2024, at Olsen Field. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)
Southern slugfest
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Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp attends the Class of 1972 50-year reunion in Kyle Field on April 20, 2022.
A&M System’s Title IX director suspended after supporting Biden's Title IX changes
Nicholas Gutteridge, Managing Editor • May 23, 2024
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A fighter jet squadron flies over during the National Anthem before Texas A&M’s game against Arkansas at Olsen Field on Saturday, May 18, 2024. (Chris Swann/The Battalion)
Bryan-College Station Regional participants announced
Ian Curtis, Sports Writer • May 27, 2024

For the second time in three seasons, No. 3 national seed Texas A&M baseball will host the Bryan-College Station Regional, where it’ll...

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Beekeeper Shelby Dittman scoops bees back into their hive during a visit on Friday, April 5, 2024. (Kyle Heise/The Battalion)
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Shalina Sabih, Sports Writer • May 1, 2024

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Kennedy White, 19, sits for a portrait in the sweats she wore the night of her alleged assault inside the Y.M.C.A building that holds Texas A&M’s Title IX offices in College Station, Texas on Feb. 16, 2024 (Ishika Samant/The Battalion).
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Scenes from 74
Scenes from '74
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Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Thanksgiving game is bigger than t.u.

Jerrod+Johnson+threw+for+342+yards+and+four+touchdowns+in+his+last+rivalry+game%2C+a+49-39+loss+to+then-No.+3+Texas.
Jerrod Johnson threw for 342 yards and four touchdowns in his last rivalry game, a 49-39 loss to then-No. 3 Texas.

The return of a Texas A&M tradition is upon us: the Thanksgiving Day game is back.
“Football on Thanksgiving is an American standard,” said former Texas A&M quarterback Jerrod Johnson. “Anytime you get to be a part of that, it’s great.”
Johnson played at A&M from 2006 to 2010 and passed for the most yards in program history. While sitting at an airport, Johnson spoke fondly on his time at A&M. He recalled his favorite moments of the Thanksgiving Day games, from a 12-7 victory in his redshirt year to beating Texas at home in former A&M head coach Dennis Franchione’s final game at the helm.
“My junior year I probably had the best game of my career,” Johnson said in reference to the 2009 contest, in which A&M drew first blood with a 70-yard touchdown pass from Johnson to Jeff Fuller. “My mom and best friend came down. It was like a dream come true.”
Since A&M’s beginnings, the Aggies versus the Longhorns was an annual showdown of in-state supremacy. No matter how frigid the weather, fans on both sides looked forward to the game perhaps more than the Christmas gifts they would open a month later.
“I’ll never forget either game we played against t.u.,” said Fletcher Massie, former yell leader and Class of 2009. “My junior year we had some cold weather blow in and by the end of the game College Station was in the 40s. We won 38-30 and I don’t think Fish Pond has ever been so cold. I lost feeling in my legs during victory yell practice, but it is one of my fondest memories of that season.”
After 2011, the Turkey Day game took a two-year hiatus, but there remained plenty to be thankful for.
A&M left the Big 12 to join the Southeastern Conference and spent close to half a billion dollars on stadium renovations to Kyle Field. Johnny Manziel gave thanks for a Heisman trophy while Mike Evans built his case for a promising NFL future.
Two bowl victories in two years made the absence of football at Kyle Field on the fourth Thursday of November an easier pill to swallow. However, it still felt as if something was missing.
Playing the Longhorns was huge, but they weren’t the only reason for the joy of a Thanksgiving game. After all, Johnson’s “best game” of his career resulted in a loss.
More than anything, Johnson looked forward the “it” factor returning to College Station for the hallowed Thanksgiving night tradition that meant more to Aggies than football. Massie noted the unconventional Thanksgiving potluck dinner held by the yell leader families in an Austin hotel at the ’08 game and how much fun they had.
“It’s important to have an Aggie game on Thanksgiving because of the time families get to spend together in the Aggie spirit,” Massie said.
Thanksgiving Day games are great to win, but Johnson said that wasn’t why they were so special. It was the opportunity to play in front of the 12th Man on Thanksgiving Day, just as his father Larry Johnson did years ago.
This day doesn’t hinge on whether or not a yell leader is launched into a frigid Fish Pond or eating away the sorrows of defeat with your third plate of turkey — it’s about those with whom you experience it.
It’s sawing ’em off with 100,000 members of your family. It’s slamming your bicep with a closed fist as you encourage the team to beat the hell outta LSU. It’s about the student body leaving without a voice and knees weak from standing. It’s about the players and coaches being physically exhausted, yet filled with energy to spend time with their families.
Thanksgiving football at Kyle Field. It’s back.

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