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Buffalo Bills plates and napkins to get you into the `Billsgiving` mood.
Buffalo Bills plates and napkins to get you into the "Billsgiving" mood.

'Billsgiving': How to combine turkey & tailgating this holiday

by jmaloni
Tue, Nov 22nd 2022 05:15 pm

By Michelle Blackley Glynn

The Buffalo Bills are scheduled to play at 12:30 p.m. on Thanksgiving this year, and the “Bills Mafia” are getting ready for it. In lieu of a traditional meal, try morphing the usual turkey day dinner with gameday dishes.


If the big meal is going to be served in the afternoon during the game, and a whole turkey doesn’t sound appealing, try roasting turkey legs. Not only does it have a special meaning in conjunction with football, they are easy to prepare – and it’s possible to keep the sides the same for those who are expecting the canned cranberries and gravy.

The NFL Turkey Leg Award started in 1989 during the Thanksgiving game between the Eagles and Cowboys. Legendary commentator John Madden decided the MVP of that game should receive a turkey leg as an award for their performance, according to sportingnews.com.

A special addition to the table could be a buttered turkey – Western New Yorkers are familiar with buttered lambs at Easter, but Wegmans is selling buttered turkeys this season. In addition to the grocery store, while shopping for a main dish, consider shopping locally at the Natural Link in Lewiston, for fresh cuts daily.


Rosemary roasted turkey legs

Active time: 15 minutes

Total time: 1 hour, 25 minutes

Serves 8

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (two lemons)
  • 3 tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 ½ tbsp. salt
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 8 turkey drumsticks (about 12 oz. each)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine or chicken stock

Preheat the oven to 400° F with a rack in the top third of the oven.

Melt butter in the microwave or on the stove. Stir in lemon juice, rosemary, salt, garlic, thyme and pepper.

Dry drumsticks well with paper towels and place in a high-sided roasting pan. Brush all over with butter mixture. Add wine to the pan.

Cover and roast for 15 minutes. Increase oven temperature to 450° F, uncover, and continue to roast until juices run clear, skin is nicely browned, and a thermometer inserted in thickest part registers 165°F, 35 to 45 minutes. 

Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Keep the kids alright and don’t forget the “Mini Mafia.” A real crowd pleaser is a kids' charcuterie that offers a little something for everyone. Finger foods like homemade pigs in a blanket, macaroni and cheese, homemade or frozen mini pizzas, olives, breadsticks, and something sweet like gummy candy or Twizzlers, will keep tummies full for the entire game.

A typical gameday dessert is Carvel’s ice cream cake – turkey or football, this time of year. If pies aren’t on the menu, consider this cool option.


Lose the booze and feel the benefits. Day drinking has gone to the wayside, and sparkling, nonalcoholic beverages are now refreshing palates. Currently on the shelves at Wegmans are a variety of European sodas, or ginger beer, a sweet and carbonated option. If traditional beer is going to be on the menu, try Buffalo-owned but Irish-brewed Sullivans, and a sponsor of “Buffalo Bills Radio Network.” It is currently selling cans of stout, red ale and gold ale, at select locations.


If the family dresses formally around the dinner table, it is still possible to represent the boys from Buffalo while keeping up appearances. Try pairing a “Billsgiving” shirt, like one from KellioStudio on Etsy.com, with dressy bottoms. A Bills jersey can go with any color pair of corduroys, dress slacks, or they look especially smart with dark denim.

The table should not be forgotten either. Local online retailer and popup shop Elizabeth Lynn Designs has super-cute “Billsgiving”-themed cocktail napkins, host towels and more. Visit her website at https://elizabethlynndesigns.com/, or social media channels, for available inventory. Make clean up simple with Buffalo Bills plates and napkins available at Wegmans.

The decor shouldn’t be limited to sitting – a “jumping Josh” is the perfect centerpiece to compliment any tablescape or welcoming garden decoration. They can be made-to-order at Micro Graphics in Lockport.

Give Thanks

Being a Bills fan has taken its turns over the years. For many, it was simply wearing sweatshirts on Fridays during the glory days of the ’90s when the team saw four consecutive Super Bowls, but during the quiet years a movement was born, known as “Bills Mafia.” It started at a website to reach every single Buffalo fan across the U.S. and the globe. The “Bills Mafia” was born as a movement, created by fans and now embraced by the current players. From philanthropy to Bills backer chapters across the U.S., being a Bills fan has turned into much more than tailgating – it’s a lifestyle.

This Thanksgiving, give thanks for a family that may not be around the immediate table, but expands throughout the world – a group of people rooting for what was once an underdog and is now an entertaining force that brings a group of blue-jersey wearing folks a sense of pride, community and fun.

When out in public, the “Bills Mafia” can easily be recognized, if not for their Western New York friendliness or wearing Bills gear, then it’s when they say, “Go Bills!”

Michelle Blackley Glynn is a lifelong Bills fan and lives in Western New York, along with her husband. Together, they are raising two “Mini Mafia” members. 

“Jumpin’ Josh” Allen

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