Game Day! ~ Tanya Hanson

Football enters our homestead every August with our family’s Fantasy League. My team Wild Thang usually ends the season in last place. Mostly I like the smack-talk. We culminate things with a big Chili Cook-off on Super Bowl Sunday, and following this post, you’ll find the recipe I am entering this year. In the meantime, here’s some fun football facts.

Early leather helmets were replaced by plastic ones in the 1950’s
This early helmet with its nose guard is kinda Hannibal Lechter-y.

Anyway, back to the game. Beginning in 1827, Harvard started holding the “Bloody Monday” mob game between freshmen and sophomores–a mash-up of soccer and rugby that kind of presaged modern football’s violent nature. While there were certainly competitions using balls among our country’s first nations, today’s American football got its start from Europe’s historic soccer and rugby games.

Early balls were round, reminiscent of rugby, leather and laces over inflated pig bladders. In 1875, the egg-shaped ball was introduced.

In November 1869, Rutgers and Princeton played the first recognizable football game, although the ball was round. By the 1880’s, Yale’s great rugby star Walter Camp morphed the game into what we know today as football. He developed the line of scrimmage and “downs” and helped legitimize interference—otherwise known as blocking and highly illegal in rugby. Teams had been limited to 20 players in 1873.

Walter Camp (1859-1925), the Father of American Football

Later college coaches such as Knute Rockne and Glen “Pop” Warner helped introduce the forward pass. Football’s popularity grew and grew, with fierce rivalries between colleges, and popular “bowl’” games developed. The “Big Game” between Stanford and University of California at Berkeley in 1892 has long been considered the West’s first big face-off.


Upon the development of professional teams, paying players for their time and talents was considered unsportsmanlike. William “Pudge” Heffelfinger (1867-1954) became the first professional player in America in November 1892 by accepting $500 from a Pittsburgh ball club. In 1897, the Latrobe Athletic Association became the first pro team to complete an entire  competitive season.

Pudge Heffelfinger (1867-1954)

The 1932 National Football League playoff game was the first to introduce hashmarks and was played indoors due to Chicago’s grim weather that winter. In 1946–the same year Jackie Robinson made baseball history–two of his teammates from UCLA, Woody Strode and Kenny Washington, became the first African American players in the NFL.

Woody Strode, Jackie Robinson, and Kenny Washington pictured together on the 1939 UCLA team. All three made sports history.
Early padding looks like gramma’s quilt.

The first Super Bowl took place in January 1967 and my hubs—just a kid—was in attendance! Now we’re getting ready for our big game day shindig. Not long ago he and I went to the football exhibition presented by the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library~it was full of great info and lots of photo ops.

How about you? Any football lovers out there? Anybody ever enter a chili-cook-off?


Here’s my easy-peasy chili recipe. I promise you it’s good.

Rancho Taco Crocko

2 pounds ground beef or turkey (I use turkey), cooked.

1 envelope taco seasoning

1 ½ cups water

1 can (15 oz) chili beans

1 can (15 oz) corn, or a bag of frozen corn

1 can (15 oz) jalapeno pinto beans. Best to drain these. You can use regular pintos but we like spice around here.

1 can (15 oz) stewed tomatoes

1 can (10 oz) diced tomatoes—recommend a southwest version that includes green chilies or similar additives. Do not drain.

1 can (4 ounces) diced green chilies

I envelope ranch dressing mix. This is the secret ingredient.

(I will be adding pickled jalapenos, too.

Dump into crockpot (mine is shaped like a football LOL), and mix well, cook on high for a while stirring occasionally, then set to warm. Serves about 8, makes about 2 quarts. Calories unknown.



When it rains it pours….I have two books coming out later this month. Details next time.

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26 thoughts on “Game Day! ~ Tanya Hanson”

  1. Your blog is awesome so much history on football. I also love your recipe. I’ll have to try it. You have a great feat & enjoy the game.

    • Tonya, thanks! I’ve always liked football–we are USC Trojan nuts–but the exhibition taught me so much more. I never even heard of Walter Camp, blush. I had so many pictures of the exhibition I could hardly pick what to show you guys without overdoing it LOL. I am so glad to see you here today and I hope you like the recipe.

    • Hi DebraG, glad you learned stuff. I did, too! The exhibition at the prez library was outstanding. They even showed the uniform and helmet of my all time favorite player, Roman Gabriel, of the LA Rams long ago, but I couldn’t figure out a way to include him LOL. Thanks for stopping by.

  2. Informative post! I am a big fan of football—have been for many years. I have never entered a chili cook off.

    • Hi Estella, I am a big fan, too….I’m always sad when the season ends for the year. Sob. I’d never enter one if it wasn’t the family’s LOL. Not that adventurous of a cook. That’s why this easy recipe is so attractive to me. Thanks for posting today.

    • HI Melanie, always good to see you. I hope you try the recipe some day. It is pretty yummy. I super-enjoyed the post about the Harvard “Bloody Monday” free-for-all. That would have been something to see.

    • HI Janine, thanks for your kind post. Years ago Hubs and I visited the College Football Hall of Fame when we were at Notre Dame for a Trojan football game with them…but the’ve since moved it to Atlanta. That has noting to do with anything LOL. I just remembered that. The thing I wonder most is WHY the round ball evolved into an egg-shape.

  3. This is great, Tanya. I’m a BIG NFL fan and of course a rabid Nebraska Cornhusker fan. (In Nebraska that’s required….fortunately it is easy to fulfill that requirement.) I will definitely be watching. A good friend has Atlanta Falcons season tickets and is so excited.
    Unfortunately I’m not able to root for her team because I’m a big Patriots fan. Tom Brady has been so badly abused by the NFL I want him to win EVERYTHING.

    Every time someone says he cheats, I say, “Of course he cheated with those deflated footballs. They made him start inflating them right and he can hardly play anymore! (except for winning every game he played this season except one!)

    Yep, not everyone agrees with me (DUH!)

  4. LOL Mary, you alway make me laugh. I remember well those Husker days. Lincoln turned absolutely RED. I went to a small college in Nebraska and even had a UN star quarterback ask me on a date. He was visiting friends on our little campus and thought with my unusual Russian last name, I was related to someone he knew. Pick up line? Yes. But I was leaving for Christmas vacation the next day. Sob. I remember rooting for him in the Orange Bowl though, telling everybody I knew him.

    Oh, yes, about football inflation. The Reagan had a whole display on the nuances of proper size and stuff but it was too complicate for me LOL. I reckoned a round ball and an egg-shaped ball was enough ball stuff for me. Hugs, my friend. xo

    • Hi Nancy, I enjoyed researching this topic as well as seeing everything at the library. I especially liked the nose guards LOL. Can’t wait to taste your chili! The pot definitely needs to go to Nebraska. (we award a traveling trophy that has to travel with the winner.)

  5. Very interesting, Tanya! Wow, I was just a kid then too. But I thought the Super Bowl was older than that for some reason. Wishing you tons of success with new books! Love those covers.

  6. Hi Tanya!
    Really great football stuff. Can’t wait for the superbowl, but then, it’s over for many long months. We really do enjoy watching the games. Thanks for the blog, and chili recipe. I am going to copy that one down!! Have Super Fun on Sunday!

    • Hi Charlene, it’ll be a fun day. We’re adding a “Bake-off” this year, too, so I gotta concoct something spectacular. I agree it’s so long to wait until next football season where you get both pro and college. I do follow the Angels (Go Halos) and like to watch pro golf, but I guess football reminds me of my own and my kids’ college days. Thanks for your kind words about my stories. Love to all in your corner of the world! xoxo

  7. My husband and I had season tickets to the Pgh. Steelers for 15 years and then we had kids…lol. We were sad to see them lose in the playoffs 🙁

    • HI catslady, it’s always sad to see a team lose. We’ve been Trojan fans forever and they’ve had some bad luck. I’m glad to see their p hoeniz rising again. Thanks for posting today.

  8. I loved football when I was in high school. Our team was one of the top teams in the region Games were always exciting and competitive. I had cousins that attended most of the other teams we played. I really enjoyed watching professional football on TV for many years. I do remember the first Superbowl, but I was already a junior in college. The past several years I haven’t been quite so interested in pro-football. It has gotten too rough and too much about money. We still do watch occasionally and watch the Superbowl. We now are enjoying college football. My husband went to the University of Florida, so Gators are a favorite. We live in UT (Tennessee, not Texas) so have to keep a low profile. We attended the Air Force Academy games when we were stationed in Colorado Springs. They were great, especially when they were playing Army or Navy. We just want to watch a well played game with fair officiating, no dirty hits, and no coaches who forget that it is a game, not war. If it is a good game I really don’t care all that much who wins.
    Thanks for the chili recipe. Will try it some day. No Superbowl Party here this year. We have a Four Chaplains program honoring 4 who died in the sinking of a ship during WWII. From there we are going to the local Veterans Hospital Domiciliary to work a Superbowl Party for the patients we (the Red Cross) are hosting with the American Legion and DAV. We will be home to watch the end of the game. I hope you enjoy your get-together.

    • HI Patricia, I so appreciated your comment about how today it’s too much money to play a game. Sheesh. I didn’t even know until I researched this blog that paying “pros” early-on was considered unsportsmanlike. I’ll bet Pudge and the others would be horrified today. You sound like you are spending your day in a very meaningful way. I so appreciate you stopping by.

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