When people think of Thanksgiving, they usually think of football. On Thursday in Bay County, that was definitely the case for 58 football teams from across the country as the 45th Annual Snapper Bowl kicked off. Harold Creel started the tournament back in 1967, and while not much has changed since grandson Kenny took over, there is one different this year that grandpa Creel would be proud of.
"Back in the day, my grandpa, his vision was to not only have a free tournament but also a no state of play tournament," said Kenny on Thursday. "This year, we did this. We brought all these teams out here for no entry fee. A lot of tournaments from around the US have a big attendance from their local teams. We're blessed to have the three local teams that we have out of the 58 teams, at one point we were at 95 teams. We wanted to keep everyone on Panama City Beach, and we didn't have the fields to have all those teams."
The Snapper Bowl is double elimination, and wraps up on Saturday. This year, a special guest came to the beach to check out Snapper Bowl action, as former Philadelphia Eagle and eight year NFL veteran Mark McMillian came to talk to the kids.
McMillian played at Alabama in the early 1990's, and will be the first to tell you he doesn't look like your typical NFL athlete- standing just 5'7. Despite his size, McMillian led the NFL in interception return years in 1997, and said he wants all the kids to reach their goals.
"I was cut from playing youth football. They said I was too small," he remembered Thursday night. "Some of the things I was telling these kids, they have a great opportunity to gel and play football at a young age. I was unable to play because they said I was too small, I wasn't able to make the weight. Seeing these kids out here, able to play and live out their dreams, I was running up and down the sidelines in the last game I was at, I'm just excited to see these kids have fun."