Ahmad Rashad requested that he recieve extra air time before the start of the Jets and Lions game on Thanksgiving Day 1985. In my eyes, that proposal had broken up my favorite family, the Huxtables.
This year as I make my way to my grandparents house for Thanksgiving, thirty-two years of memories will come flooding back as I travel that gravel road in South Alabama. For the first holiday of my life, my grandmother will not be around to not only cook, but to soak up every minute of football, just like her holiday dressing soaked up the gibblet gravy. Of all the thousands of hours she and I spent together, the happiest were the ones we spent watching football, on the phone talking about football and sitting around all summer waiting for football to begin again.
Thanksgiving 1985 started off just like any other. I was six that year and while I sat in the floor hoping I had graduated to the adult table for dinner, we all gathered around the television to watch the game between the New York Jets and the Detroit Lions. I had on my Lions jersey of course because it is perfectly normal for a kid from the beach in south Alabama to be a huge Lions fan right?
Right before the game Ahmad Rashad, looking very nervous, asked Phylicia Ayers-Allen to marry him on national television. The women in the room erupted with statements about how romantic that was. The men gave Ahmad “attaboys” like he was sitting in the room amongst them. I on the other hand had no idea what had happened. At six, I had no idea what was going on until a picture of Ayers-Allen was flashed across the screen. “Granny? Why are they showing Bill Cosbys wife on the football game show?” She laughed and explained that she was not married to Bill Cosby in real life, but only on television and that it was just a show that we watched for fun, but the Cosby family was not “real.”
My world was shattered. I loved that family. I wanted to be a member of that family. When my parents looked at houses I told them they had to buy the one with the swinging door between the living room and the kitchen because Bill Cosby had a door like that at his house. I could not believe it. In my mind “Mrs. Huxtable” was leaving Bill and the family to fend for themselves. I was so worried what would happen on the next episode I could not even eat that day. What was Bill going to do with the children? Who was going to keep them all out of trouble? As far as I was concerned the Huxtable family was doomed.
Since my grandmother could not convince me otherwise, she endulged me, and even mailed the letter I wrote to Bill Cosby. I believe it was written in a nice shade of blue crayon. I tried to convey how sorry I was that she had left him and the kids and that I am sure he could find someone even better to raise his family. I also advised him that he needed to call her first though and ask her to come home before he started looking for a replacement. My grandmother even mailed it. I licked the envelope and stamp at the post office and everything.
I do not know if Bill got the letter, but I always thought that after he read it he realized how much he needed her and begged her back from Ahmad. It must have worked because she never missed an episode.
What did this have to do with football? Nothing. However, every time I watch the Lions on Thanksgiving, I am reminded of how I, with my grandmothers help, saved Cliff and Claire Huxtable’s marriage.