We present the Second Annual Non-Football Fans' Guide To Surviving Thanksgiving

And now for another installment from Columnist of the People (COTP), a pathetic Dear Abby knockoff for casual sports fans.

Today's topic: What if you are sitting in a room with people watching football on Thanksgiving and have no idea what's going on? COTP feels your pain. And he's doing something about it.

Hence, presenting the Second Annual Non-Football Fans' Guide To Surviving Thanksgiving. A few tips and hints to make the people ignoring you and yelling at the television take notice.

OK. Football begins early on Thanksgiving with some high school games throughout the region. All kickoffs at 10 a.m. However, pregame is a must at the Birdseye in New London. Just go. It's tradition. You'll thank COTP later. But have Uber on standby.

So your high school menu looks like this: Waterford at East Lyme, New London at NFA, Fitch at Ledyard and Westerly at Stonington. Some potential conversation starters/fun facts for you:

Waterford at East Lyme: COTP's friend Tim Lineburgh, an assistant coach at Waterford, floated this idea once over a few lemonades: How does Waterford acquire a downtown?

"Easy," Lineburgh said. "Sell Quaker Hill to Montville and buy Niantic from East Lyme. Then we'd have a downtown."

Lineburgh already calls Quaker Hill "SoMo," as in South Montville, anyway.

So what say you, Selectmen Nickerson (East Lyme) and Steward (Waterford)? Can we make a deal? Montville gets Quaker Hill, Waterford gets Niantic and East Lyme gets cash considerations.

Not a bad conversation topic in the bleachers.

New London at NFA: Get there early so you can hear New London assistant coach Tommie Major yell, "It's New London County, not Norwich County!"

Fitch at Ledyard: So what is the correct way to pronounce "Ledyard?" There's "Led-jerd," "Led-yurd," "Led-jid," "Led-yid" and "Ledger." Discuss. (COTP would really like to know the answer to this one).

Westerly at Stonington: Note there will be many Italians at this game. Please pronounce all Italian food as they would in Westerly. Examples: "capicola" is "gobba-goal" and "ricotta" is "ree-GO-thah," rolling the "R" if possible.

Then comes pro football. Three games: Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions at 1, Los Angeles Chargers at Dallas Cowboys at 4:30 and four-time Super Bowl champion New York Football Giants at Washington Redskins at 8.

Vikings at Lions: You can impress the gallery by knowing the Lions always play at home on Thanksgiving. Pay particular attention to the Vikings' defense, though. If someone makes a nice play, say this: "Wow, they remind me of the Purple People Eaters." That was the nickname of the old Vikings defensive line of the 1970s. Win bonus points by dropping their names: Marshall, Eller, Page, Larsen.

Chargers at Cowboys: Making fun of the Cowboys is as American as baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet. So try out a few of these jokes on all the people in the room:

What is (Cowboys' owner) Jerry Jones' biggest collective bargaining concern? ... Does bail money count against the salary cap?

What's the difference between a Cowboys fan and a baby? ... The baby stops whining after a while.

Did you hear the Dallas Cowboys had to shut down the team website? ... Yeah. Turns out they can't ever string three Ws together.

(Ah, such fun).

Giants at Redskins: Tread lightly around poor Giants fans here. Been a rough season, despite last Sunday's miracle victory. You'll note watching this game that the Redskins have a band and cheerleaders. The Giants don't. No band, no mascot, no cheerleaders. This is for two reasons:

The Giants are too dignified.

And Giants fans are rarely in the mood to cheer or sing. Mostly, they sit in their stadium as if they're listening to Billy Graham (invoking "Jesus!" a lot). Their cheerleaders would have to yell things like "rah, rah, sis boom ... BLAH." So what's the point?

There you have it, folks. The Second Annual Non-Football Fans' Guide To Surviving Thanksgiving. All the info you need to sound like an expert to all the football fans in the room. You'll be a rock star. And you'll have COTP to thank.

This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro

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