Thursday is one of the great football days of the year thanks to a trio of Thanksgiving matchups on the schedule. To kick things off at 12:30 p.m. ET: a battle for first place in the NFC North when the Vikings travel to Detroit to face the Lions. At the conclusion of that game — and for the 19th year running — CBS color commentator Phil Simms will hand out his annual “All-Iron Award.”
(Programming note: If you’re not in front of a television, you can stream the game right here on CBSSports.com.)
You might be asking yourself, “Why is it called the All-Iron Award?” Good question. And we went right to the source for the answer.
“It came about this way: I was working with Greg Gumbel 19 years ago, and he came down one morning wearing a shirt that really looked good, and I said, ‘Hey, what did you do to your shirt, did you iron it yourself?’ And he said, ‘No, you dummy, I sent it out and got it pressed.’
“Then he looked at me and said, ‘What did you do to your shirt?’ And I said, ‘Well, I iron my own clothes, that’s what I do, that’s how I grew up.’ He thought that was the funniest thing he’d ever heard. Another guy that was with us came up with the idea, ‘Hey, let’s have an All-Iron show.'”
So when you see the iron, that’s what it means and that’s what it’s about. It’s not about being a tough guy.
But this isn’t your typical MVP award.
“We decided to do this with the award: To give it to somebody besides just the stars, somebody that does something different or extraordinary,” Simms explained, continuing, “And the best one of all of them was the very first one, in Detroit, linebacker Stephen Boyd won it. He wasn’t supposed to play [because] he was hurt. But he plays great, he does all the little things, makes special-teams tackles.
“[On one play that sticks out] they’re kicking a field goal that’s really big in the game — they only have 10 guys on the field and they were going to have to waste a timeout. All of a sudden, he realizes it, runs and sprints out there, gets at the end of the line of scrimmage, blocks for the field goal and saves a timeout for the Lions, and I went, ‘Man, that’s what this award is all about, giving it to somebody who does those little things like Stephen Boyd.'”
Occasionally, exceptional circumstances leads to an exception in who gets the award. In 2004, Peyton Manning and his offensive line got the nod.
“We’ve had so many unbelievable performances. I mean, one year in Detroit, Peyton Manning threw six touchdowns — and it was so extraordinary we had to give the award to him,” Simms said. “What I remember about that … is that we used to give away — my mother is a great baker and she made blackberry cobbler. We we would have blackberry cobbler sitting there and they would eat it. Well, we had it heated up, put ice cream on it, and Peyton Manning stuck his spoon in there and put it in his mouth, and of course it was so hot — it was a pretty funny moment on TV.”
The All-Iron defending champs?