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John Madden and the History of the Turducken

By Jeff Stinger

Thanksgiving is synonymous with two long-standing American traditions on this special holiday: massive family gatherings involving mouth-watering turkey dishes and, of course, football. NFL Hall of Fame head coach and broadcaster John Madden married these two traditions together and conjured up one of the more memorable non-football moments in the league’s history by introducing the general public to the gastronomical beat that is the turducken.

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The NFL Thanksgiving Legacy of John Madden the Turducken

READ MORE: 2022 NFL Thanksgiving Day Odds and Preview

Reliving the Memory of a Football Legend

When bringing up the name John Madden, people often point to the world-famous video game franchise of the same name. However, most young NFL fans wouldn’t have known that Madden was more than just an icon in the gaming community, but rather a real football legend that won a Super Bowl title with the 1976 Raiders and transitioned smoothly into the broadcasting booth as one of the best color commentators to ever call a football game.

Sadly, Madden passed away in December of last year, meaning that the 2022 NFL season is the league’s first Thanksgiving without the looming presence of the jolly gentle giant. Madden left behind not just amazing memories on the gridiron and in the commentators’ booth, though, but also a Thanksgiving meal that became a huge craze during the 90s.

A Maddening Culinary Concoction

Back in 1997, two weeks after Thanksgiving had passed, Madden would showcase one of the more tantalizing yet sinful festive dishes ever created. It was dubbed the turducken; an ungodly culinary creation of what Madden would later describe as “a deboned duck, stuffed inside a deboned chicken, stuffed inside a deboned turkey”.

Madden tried the turducken for the first time on Thanksgiving Day itself but was not able to share the dish on air the day itself. Instead, he asked for a similar turducken to the one he got from Louisiana during a Thanksgiving showdown between the Saints and Cowboys to be featured in another game two weeks later, and the rest of the American public immediately caught on to the craze thanks to Madden’s endorsement.

While Madden was a larger-than-life figure on the gridiron, many fans (and not just non-football fans) would still argue that his biggest impact on the sport is him bringing the turducken to the public eye, and we’re more than okay with that fact. The turducken is no longer a household staple on Thanksgiving Day nowadays, but many football-loving families still celebrate the occasion with this monster of a meal in honor of one of the NFL’s most beloved personalities.

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