Thanksgiving In The NFL Means Family, Work And Giving

Intro: The Colts will hold practice on Thursday to prepare for Washington. Family time will come after, but that doesn’t tell the entire story of how Colts players celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday.

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INDIANAPOLIS – When players sign up for life in the NFL, they know holidays in the latter half of the year aren't how most people spend them.

Work still beckons for the Colts on this Thanksgiving holiday before players and coaches will leave the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center early afternoon to gather with family and friends.

For Colts players and coaches, Thanksgiving still holds a special meaning even if family is spread across the country.

Chuck Pagano talked earlier this week about what Thanksgiving means to him and his family.

"When you go through some tough times and you're given a second chance so to speak, it just puts everything in perspective for you," Pagano says of Thanksgiving.

"So grateful for this opportunity. Grateful to be in Indiana. Grateful to be the head coach of the Colts, be healthy and be alive, doing what I love to do and that's coach football and share it with my loved ones, my family. It's pretty special."

Pagano's players have followed their coach's message.

Earlier this week, more than a dozen Colts players spent their off day out in the chilly morning temperatures helping to pass out Thanksgiving meals to more than 2,000 local families in-need at Lucas Oil Stadium.

"I know a lot of people were laughing at me because I was dancing but I enjoy doing that," Ricky Jean Francois said of handing out meals. "I enjoy it because the same people that come to our games appreciate us, so let's show appreciation back to the community.

"I love doing stuff like that so the community knows that we care. We are just not here being football players. We want to affect the community, the same way the community helps us affect other teams during the season."

The Thanksgiving holiday started early for cornerback Darius Butler when he headed back to Florida following the Patriots game last week.

Butler spent Monday and Tuesday in his hometown for his sixth annual Thanksgiving giveaway.

"It's important for me to actually get down there and just be there personally, meeting people in the community before getting back to work," Butler said of his event.

On Tuesday, Butler was out in the Indianapolis community at LaRon Landry's Thanksgiving event.

For the fifth straight year, Landry hosted his event. This year Landry and his fellow Colts defensive backs helped to feed enough food for 500 families of six people each.

It's been a busy week for the Colts defensive backs out in the community.

Last Friday, it was Mike Adams helping out the Phalen Leadership Academy by distributing prepared boxes filled with holiday meals.

Thursday is a work day for those in the NFL but acts like these help those in need have a holiday they might not else get to enjoy.

"We are in a fortunate situation to do what we do for a living," veteran linebacker D'Qwell Jackson says.

"It's always good to go back in the community and help whenever you can."

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