INDIANAPOLIS - As usual, Chuck Pagano is hosting this year’s Indy sports Thanksgiving feast.
Pagano: “Everybody…welcome. Anybody want some traditional spaghetti and meatballs? If you remember your history, the Pilgrims absolutely loved them some spaghetti and meatballs.’’
Anthony Castonzo looks at the hors d’oeuvres spread. Next to the pasta and sauce there appears to be some kind of chicken dish.
Castonzo: “What’s this?’’
Chris Ballard chimes in: “Oh, I brought that for Chuck. It’s lame duck. It’s not the tastiest thing in the world, but it never seems to last very long.’’
Pagano: “We’ve got the entire team here. Where’s Andrew Luck?’’
Ballard: “Oh, he’s in Islamabad getting an experimental leech treatment on his right shoulder. I heard he’s at a street-clinic. It’s not career threatening.’’
Jim Irsay: “It’s fixed! The shoulder is fixed! It’s fixed!’’
Pagano: “I haven’t seen Andrew in months. Haven’t seen him throw. Haven’t seen his walk or heard him talk. I don’t even remember what he looks like.’’
Paul George, a blast from the recent past, walks in the door. Then he circles the room and heads back toward the front door.
Everyone: “Where you going, PG?’’
PG: “Nowhere. I’m not going anywhere. I love Indianapolis. I want to be the modern-day Reggie Miller. I want to be the greatest Pacer ever.’’
Irsay walks into a plate-glass window and is soon surrounded by shards of glass.
“It’s fixed!’’ he says. “The window is fixed! Andrew’s shoulder is fixed! The offensive line is fixed! Fixed, all of it.’’
Archie Miller approaches the spinach-artichoke dip, which was prepared by the Colts offensive line, and throws his napkin and car keys.
Everybody: “What are you doing, Archie!’’
Miller: “I accidentally threw my napkin and keys, but everybody compares it to Bob Knight’s chair throw and foolishly claims it shows what a passionate coach I am, so…what the hell.’’
T.Y. Hilton dips a chip into the spinach-artichoke concoction.
“Who made this slop?’’ he asks.
“The offensive line,’’ comes the answer.
“Oh my god, this tastes like dachshund vomit,’’ he said. “Of course the offensive line prepared it. How would they feel if they had to sit here and eat this swill? Jacoby gets one taste of this, he’s going to turn violently ill.’’
Hilton changes the subject.
“Hey, anybody want to see my NFL sportsmanship award?’’ he says.
Joe Haeg pipes up. “Who did it come down to – you and Johnny Manziel?’’ he asks.
PG puts on his coat. He’s heading for the door.
Everybody: “Where are you going, PG? Dinner isn’t even served yet?’’
PG: “Why do you keep asking? Did I say I was going to Thanksgiving dinner in LA? Was that ever mentioned?’’
Ballard looks at his phone, reads the latest news on Luck.
“Guess he just got to the Arctic Circle,’’ Ballard says. “They have a new procedure where they inject penguin and polar bear cells into the left shoulder, which is supposed to cure the right shoulder. Also says something about a plan to visit a witch doctor in Borneo next week. But it’s not career threatening.’’
Irsay: “It’s fixed! The shoulder is fixed! Penguins, polar bears and witch doctors. Reminds me of an old Derek and the Dominos song. It’s fixed, I tell you.’’
Finally, the group sits down.
The doorbell rings.
It’s Vice President Mike Pence, surrounded by secret service personnel.
He takes off his coat, sits down and watches a little bit of football. With seconds left in the first half, Dak Prescott is backed up on his own 18-yard line with six seconds remaining, so he takes a knee.
The Vice President goes ballistic, puts his coat back on and walks out the door. PG tries to sneak out with him.
Within moments, he tweets, “I am not going to sit there and watch this kind of kneeling. The POTUS told me, if there’s any kneeling, you’ve got to get out of there. This is an American disgrace.’’
Olympian Lilly King asks for the salad bowl (she’s from Evansville, but for the purpose of this utterly ridiculous column, she’s at my Thanksgiving).
Pagano offers her some homemade Russian dressing.
She wags her fingers in disgust.
Archie Miller throws a drum stick across the room.
Pagano: “Spaghetti and meatballs anybody?’’
Irsay stumbles and breaks a rare Fifth Century vase in the Pagano home.
He is surrounds by shards of priceless antiquities.
“It’s fixed,’’ he says. “No worries. It’s all good. It’s fixed.’’
Somebody asks when the turkey will be ready.
“There’s no timeline,’’ Ballard says.
“We can’t say for sure,’’ Pagano says.
“Ten minutes!’’ Irsay says. “It’ll be ready in 10 minutes!!’’
A bunch of Pacers make their way around the room. Kevin Pritchard wears a self-satisfied smile.
“Nobody thinks the side dish I bought is going to be any good,’’ he says. “Yeah, it’s just cranberry sauce, but you’re going to learn that it’s the greatest cranberry sauce ever made. And to think, I traded a turkey for it.’’
PG puts on his coat. He walks out the door.
Everybody tells the room why they are thankful. They eat until they bust. They watch lots of football.
Ballard looks at his phone: “Another Andrew update: Tomorrow, he’s traveling to the Amazon rain forest, where they have special hallucinogenic berries that make you forget you are in possession of a painful right shoulder.’’
Irsay: “Hallelujah! It’s fixed! It’s fixed!’’