Thanksgiving is about traditions. Everyone’s holiday seems to be a bit different, but there are a few constants that are nice reminders that we can actually rely on some things in this world. For example, the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys play football on Thanksgiving, for better or worse.
That consistency also means there are a lot of traditions that circle that game, including The Salvation Army featuring prominently in Dallas during the game’s television broadcast. The organization’s kettle drive is a holiday hallmark, and The Salvation Army essentially uses the Cowboys game to remind everyone that they’ll hear bells ringing when they go shopping over the next few weeks.
One fun thing that’s happened in recent years is the oversized kettles becoming celebration props when players score touchdowns. Perhaps unsurprisingly, one of the first and most famous examples of this came from Terrell Owens. A guy that once had a sharpie in his sock to sign autographs and famously desecrated the star at Cowboys Stadium also hilariously donated a football to the kettle while he was a Cowboy.
That launched a long tradition of other players using the kettle as a prop on the sideline. Owens wasn’t the first person to use the kettle, though. Philadelphia wideout Reggie Brown actually did it years ago in a game against the Cowboys, and what’s better, he just decided to up and hop in there after an incomplete pass from Donovan McNabb along the sideline.
It’s definitely not a Cowboys-only celebration, either. In 2017, Seahawks defender Justin Coleman leaped into the kettle after scoring on a pick-six.
In recent years, though, Ezekiel Elliott has continued what’s become a Cowboys tradition. He famously got a penalty, for example, in a Week 15 game he actually leaped into the bright red cauldron.
That wasn’t on Thanksgiving, of course, but the kettles were out on Thursday evening and when Elliott scored in the first quarter against Washington, he made his way over to the kettle in the end zone and had some fun.
With officials watching closely, Elliott dropped the ball and got two bills from someone on the sideline — a twenty and a one — and dropped them into the oversized kettle. That’s his number, you see, which is a nice little gesture if you ask me. Elliott wasn’t penalized for the celebration, which you could argue used a prop, but who cares. It’s a fun tradition and I’m sure the folks at The Salvation Army love that their cause is getting attention thanks to the Cowboys running back.
Joe Buck incorrectly said it was a donation to the Red Cross on the broadcast, but later corrected himself after the Fox crew talked to their rules expert about why it wasn’t a penalty. Because even on Thanksgiving, the arcane rules of the NFL need to be parsed on national television. The holiday, you see, is all about tradition.
UPDATE: He did it again, this time throwing Dak Prescott in the kettle after the quarterback had a ridiculous 5-yard touchdown run.
This time, of course, it was penalized.