Ah, Thanksgiving leftovers. Is there anything better?
Turkey sandwiches. Turkey jerky. Turkey pudding. Turkey spackling.
It's almost better than the original feast. That's certainly the case when it comes to the hundreds of e-mails I received in response to the Flem File's Ninth Annual Turkeys of the Year Awards. More than 17,000 of you voted and, in the end, it was a runaway victory for O.J. Simpson, who garnered what I believe to be a T.O.Y. record 24.6 percent of the vote, followed by crazed kicker Mitch Cozad (11.9), Albert Haynesworth (11.4) and, of course, T.O. (10.6).
As always, readers sent in their own touching comments, criticisms, jokes, anecdotes and electronic sewage. Many of you also nominated some very worthy candidates that I omitted.
So crank up that microwave, get out the American cheese, peanut butter and Cool Whip and enjoy these Turkey of the Year leftovers!
Sanchez wastes no time getting right into the spirit of things when he writes: "You are a [rear end] and you [perform grotesque acts upon yourself]."
Sam then contributes a hate e-mail about hate e-mail, that's so, like, ironic and existential: "Stop jabbering about how much hate mail you get. It's not funny and smacks of egoism. If you're really getting so much that you feel the need to do this, maybe you should think about a different column."
Jimmy wants to know why Ben Roethlisberger was left off the list for almost dying in a motorcycle accident. Sadly, this seems to be a pretty standard (and sickening) way of thinking inside Steeler Nation: It's OK for you to risk your life, Ben, but only if it's for the viewing enjoyment of fans while playing the Ravens. Jimmy, the die-hard supporter who spells Ben's name wrong, writes: "Why can't I vote for Ben Roesthlisberger [sic]? The guy pulled a classic idiot stunt with the motorcycle thing."
Ira makes a great point: "What about Zinedine Zidane for Turkey of the Year? He let his entire country down by doing something that didn't help his team on any level and that he could not have possibly hoped to get away with, which just about completely ruined his team's chances of winning the BIGGEST SPORTING EVENT IN THE WORLD."
Scott, and many others, wrote in to question whether or not Mike Vanderjagt's miss for the Colts last season was the worst postseason shank of all time. Most thought it was Buffalo's Scott Norwood. But Norwood's kick was actually a yard longer, and even with the pressure of the Super Bowl he missed by inches. Dr. Shankenstein's kick went almost as far sideways as it went forward. If you're talking worst postseason pressure shank of all-time, it's no contest. Oh, and Bill Parcells seems to agree with me. Anyway, Scott writes: "While I agree with you that Mike Vanderjagt is a serious shank artist, 'all-time worst shank of a potential game-winning field goal in the history of the sport'? Still goes to Scott Norwood's 'No good! Wide right!' miss with seconds left in Super Bowl XXV, giving the Giants a one-point win."
Stacey in Tampa Bay shows us the effect of salmonella. I kept waiting to read about having to deposit a check in her offshore account to free her imprisoned husband. She writes: "I have the best idea for an NFL show that would blow every other NFL show out of the water! This idea is totally unique, and it's something that everyone would want to watch even if you are not much of a football fan. I have only told a few close family members about it, and when I did their jaws dropped and they said it would be the best show out there. I don't want to tell you my idea yet because I am e-mailing this generic e-mail to every network associated with football until somebody calls me. This idea keeps me up all night! Please pass this on to someone that is in charge of this kind of stuff, or if you are in charge then thank you for reading it, and I hope you will call me. I promise it will be worth it!!! Please, Please, Please have someone call me!! I will keep e-mailing and e-mailing until I get a response."
Living in a world where personal responsibility officially no longer exists, Jake writes: "Your problem is you do not know anything about sports. You call Leon Washington a turkey for what he did, but it was the trading card company's fault for publishing it. Leon is a very good kid. He works extremely hard and has a great personality. He is not one of those thug-type players you're portraying him to be with the football card. Shame on you."
Residing in the same world, Jay adds: "Just so you know, while it was a Leon Washington trading card where he was flipping the double bird, it was the executives of the card company that missed the obvious and let it pass into circulation; they're the Turkeys, not Washington."
This was addressed to someone named David Felmming. It only gets better from there: A reader I'll simply call Captain Anonymous Potty Mouth writes: "How do you sleep at night? Shouldn't you move to Europe or something, and write for a soccer magazine or something? Wait, they don't and won't pay you enough, or wait, you wouldn't have any other journalism skills to write about any other topics. First off, excuse my FRENCH, but [go have sex with yourself.] You are the truly lowest dirty walking animal on this Earth. People should spit on you when they see you, they should also [urinate] on you when they see you laying on the ground. You are a basher, a badmouther who doesn't have enough [intestinal fortitude] to say these things in front of T.O. or Denny Green. Instead, you go and attack their character and their reputation on the national media. Your skills are tabloid material and you have no business picking up that paycheck from ESPN every other Friday. Why don't you move along with people. What has T.O. done to you? And what Denny Green said during the [press conference], that was his passion, that was his way of motivating his guys, fueling the fire into his team, into the fans. Of course, you are not at that level to understand it. You really are an idiot, and I highly recommend that you take a look in the mirror and either, (1) apply for work at a tabloid; or (2) jump in front of a train. But before you do any of that, be sure to apologize to your family, especially your mom, that you have disappointed her, that she raised you all these years and this is what you have become."
Still thinking that last letter was written by one of my brothers (Greg, is that you?), Jeff comes to my defense. Kinda. He writes: "David Fleming: Idiot. Hater. Loser. Nerd. Turkey Jerky waste of bandwidth. You're way too hard on yourself. This was a column of genius."
Russ writes: "My vote for the T.O.Y. is the NFL. Not only for the ridiculous disparity in fines, but also for holding fans hostage in its Thursday-night negotiations with the cable operators."
D. Scott says: "What about Koren Robinson? I'm surprised he didn't make the list. Convincing the Vikings he was sober, getting a sweet deal, then blowing it by getting caught driving over 100 mph, drunk and late for curfew. I still can't believe Green Bay was dumb enough to sign him after all that."
Lions fan Sheldon says: "A guy walks into a bar with his pet monkey to watch a Detroit Lions game on TV. Midway through the second quarter, the Lions kick a field goal and the monkey starts jumping up and down on the bar and clapping frantically in joy. The bartender is amazed and applauds the monkey's behavior. He then asks the owner of the monkey what he does when they score a touchdown. The owner replies 'I don't know, I've only had him for two years.' Loved the T.O.Y. article."
Kenny from Minnie writes: "This omission isn't just glaring, it borders on egregious! How could you possibly forget the coach who purportedly promised to pay a kid to hit a mentally challenged child with a baseball? He's at the top of my list by a long margin. Other than that, you did a pretty good job. Happy Holidays!"
Matt says, simply: "I think the winner has to be Isiah Thomas."
Also using a kind of "Jesus Wept" economy of words, Matt writes: "What about Islanders owner Charles Wang? The guy is an idiot!"
Bryan is all over the U: "You missed something in your T.O.Y. awards: The Miami Hurricanes football program and directors. Here is a true embarrassment to college athletics and all NCAA schools."
Derek basically wrote the same thing, but he gets in because he called me Flem Dog, which always makes me nostalgic for my eight years of frat living at the real Miami University, in Oxford, Ohio, where my Li'l RedHawks are busy making another climb up the NCAA hockey polls. He writes: "Flem Dog, what in the hell are you thinking??? No Miami/FIU??? No A-Rod??? Kenny Rogers??? What kind of T.O.Y nominator are you?!"
Then there's Scott, who must have been the kind of kid who yelled out at 2:59 p.m., "DEAR TEACHER, you forgot to give out homework." In the old days of the column, Scott would have won our WHYLO (Who Helped You Log On? Award). He writes: "Just thought I'd pass this along, a debunking of the 'tryptophan in turkey makes you sleepy' theory. Essentially what it says is eating a large amount of anything will make you want to take a nap (and we always eat a large amount on Turkey Day)."
Writes James: "3 T.O.Y. candidates are former WVU Mountaineers. I am so proud."
Peter's not a big fan. He writes: "I have read a couple of your articles, recently. Dude you are definitely on the Fleming award race. Without a doubt, you are a second rate columnist with NO clue and NO football experience. Try writing something interesting for a change."
In 72-point font size, Michael writes: "The Turkey of the Year is Floyd Landis!"
And finally, Anthony writes: "Just wanted to say your article was fantastic and I'm not being sarcastic in the least. Given how busy I am on the day before Thanksgiving (uh, yeah right), I thought I'd squeeze out this e-mail and flush it to you. Nice work!"
My rule is, when you can no longer determine if e-mailers are sincere or mocking you, it's time to stop reading your mail. Thanks again, though, to everyone who took the time to read the column and write in with their own responses.
Yes, even you Captain Anonymous Potty Mouth. Even you.
David Fleming is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine. His first book was "Noah's Rainbow: a Father's Emotional Journey from the Death of his Son to the Birth of his Daughter." His next book, based on the controversial 1925 NFL Pottsville Maroons (ESPN Books 2007) has been optioned as a movie by Sentinel Entertainment. Contact him at Dave.Fleming@espn3.com.