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November 22, 2012
A Garner family tradition
With Thanksgiving right around the corner, defensive line coach Rodney Garner asked a member of the Georgia beat corps if he'd like to make a monetary contribution to his annual holiday feast for players on the Bulldog football team.
Two dollars wasn't quite what he was looking for.
"That probably won't help much," Garner said. "I was thinking about that the other day. After 15 years of doing it here, I've made a nice little investment."
But Garner, whose wife and mother organize the annual, couldn't think of a Thanksgiving without their annual Turkey Day bash.
"Oh yeah, as long as the guys have fun, I'll do it. It's more for them and my mom now. She looks forward to it every year; my whole family looks forward to it," Garner said. "It's a good thing. It's family time and to me that's what the holiday season is all about. Growing up in Alabama, this time of year is special. It's time for family to get together at grandma's house, my aunt's houses, it was a good time."
We're not talking turkey sandwiches.
According to Garner, the tables today will be overflowing with a wide variety of family specialties, including chitlins, mac-and-cheese, dressing, fried turkey, ham, Boston butts, greens, collards, turnips, peas and any kind of cake one could ever dream of.
"You walk in and Coach G's got that little smile, saying 'Go ahead and eat, go ahead and eat,'" said John Jenkins, who will be bringing his family with him to the Garner abode.
"He's got some family coming down with him with it being Senior Day so we wanted to be able to provide a family environment," Garner said. "John was only here for two years, so I'm pretty excited about it."
But the 350-pound Jenkins wanted to make one thing clear, he'll just be there for the mac-and-cheese.
"To be honest, I really don't eat too much of anything, except baked macaroni cheese and ham," Jenkins claimed. "People think that I eat a lot of everything and I really don't. I know what I like and I like what I like."
"Baked macaroni and cheese," Jenkins said. "I may get a little potato salad, but that's it."
Garner begged to differ.
"Oh, really?" quizzed Garner, when told of Jenkins' claim. "He eats certain things in view of others and I think he eats other things in private. I think he definitely has evidence that he eats. It's kind of like me, there's evidence out there."
Defensive end Garrison Smith took the side of his coach.
"You don't even believe that yourself," laughed Smith, who said the key to surviving Thanksgiving with the Garner clan is to not eat too much.
"You've definitely got to watch what you eat and not load up, especially someone like John Jenkins," joked Smith. "He might try to eat 30 pounds of mac-and -cheese. You've got to tell him he can't eat more than his body weight."
Smith - who will be dining with his family in Atlanta this year - said taking time to savor the many flavors can keep teammates out of trouble.
"You need to try and taste the food and chew slowly," Smith said. "I don't try to gorge myself so I'll be moving slowly with a big, fat stomach. I'll take my time. Plus, there will be a lot more food to take back to school with me."
Although Smith won't be there this year, Garner said he's expecting upwards of 50 people for this year's dinner.
It will be a full day.
"They just hang out, chill out. My girls actually have the guys making fools out of themselves and their mom is actually going out to but "Let's Dance" … the X-Box deal," said Garner, who has six daughters, five still living at home ranging from ages 9-15. "They'll have dance contests. They brag about how they beat (Bacarri) Rambo last year. They'll have them doing some crazy things."