The Cowboys Salvation Army red kettle has become a Thanksgiving tradition.


Frisco, Texas — Dak Prescott’s first idea in post-touchdown delight was to resist.

The Dallas Cowboys quarterback, just unpacked at the beginning of the fourth quarter, zigzag into a six-yard rush touchdown somersault. The Cowboys took the lead in the 2018 Thanksgiving match against Washington. Prescott celebrated with his trademark kiss to the sky, a nod to his deceased mother, and a festive hug with his aggressive lineman.

Ezekiel Elliott then ran back towards the end zone, lifted Prescott into his arms, and immediately dumped it — would you like to donate? — Put him in the Salvation Army’s red kettle.

“When he lifts me, I think,’You shouldn’t resist, or you might hurt something,’” Prescott said. “Zeek is a person and player I am very grateful for.”

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Elliott’s third Touchdown Celebration is the Salvation Army’s annual Holiday Collection campaign, launched in 1891. The Cowboys will be hosting their 25th national Red Kettle Campaign kick-off on Thursday. There is a kettle in the end zone for half-time performance. By country music entertainer Luke Combs.

This year’s red kettle involvement remains in the air after Prescott and Elliott were fined for what the league considered to be against sportsmanship in 2018. But the Cowboys value what is the source of the team’s energy and charity. The campaign has served more than 748 million people since 1997 with a total donation of $ 2.86 billion.

“That’s a tradition,” Charlotte Jones, executive vice president and chief brand officer of Cowboys, told USATODAY Sports. “It’s part of being with the Cowboys as much as eating turkey on Thanksgiving Day.”

“Completely real moment”

Perhaps Combs’ recognition of the red kettle’s antique indicates its reach. The 2021 CMA Entertainer of the Year, a multi-platinum artist, said he was “familiar” with Elliott jumping into a red kettle.

“How many times will you jump to @ezekielelliott tomorrow?” Combs posted on Instagram on Thursday.

Elliott may not have decided yet.

This plan came true during the warm-up when he first plunged in December 2016. Elliott looked at the kettle and thought, “The bucket is right next to the end zone, so it’s right for someone to jump in there.”

Before warming up, he made sure there was nothing dangerous inside.

His moment came after recording a two-yard touchdown run against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Elliott jumped in with the ball. Then he looked from above as if checking the clear shores that had become an iconic meme. A longtime friend sent a text message to Elliott’s mother, Dawn, who was in the game, saying, “That’s exactly what you would have done.”

At dawn, Elliott saw that his son had a kettle soon and thought he was looking at such an opportunity.

“I know my kid: he was waiting to do it,” she told USATODAY Sports on the phone. “He was always a big kid. He behaved that way from an early age. He never grew up.”

Jones said the infectious spirit paired with Elliott’s characteristic “Feed Me” gesture to form an eye-catching Salvation Pitch. When Elliott appeared unharmed, she sighed with relief, as seen from the owner’s box. After all, she said the kettle was initially used to store fireworks for the team’s half-time performance. Jones also laughed when someone suggested that Elliott confront it as a marketing strategy.

“It was only a 20-year-old kid who thought it was a good idea to dive into a kettle,” Jones told USA Today Sports. “I don’t think anyone else would have been that smart, but he had to get out of it and stare at his perfect personality. To me, it’s a very good spirit, very generous. be.

“It was a completely real moment.”

Elliott then donated $ 21,000 to the Salvation Army and solicited $ 21 from fans to support a family in need. According to the team, the campaign generated an additional $ 250,000 in donations.

And Elliott regained a $ 21 donation in 2018, which marked the first touchdown of the game. This time, Elliott deposited cash with a photographer in the field and donated $ 21 a few quarters after his score before finally donating Prescott. Elliott’s approval of Prescott’s donation was not planned in advance.

“It was a little moment,” Elliott said. “Remember I threw him there. It was fun. We had a good time.”

Looking for execution

On Thursday, the 7-3 Cowboys appear to rebound from their defeat at the Kansas City Chiefs when the 5-5 Las Vegas Raiders visit. The Cowboys struggled to establish the aggressive rhythm and physicality they expected. With the exception of one explosive 31-yard rush, the remaining 15 carries are now 51 yards.

“We need to reestablish our identity just by being physical, and obviously set the tone of the line of scrimmage,” Prescott said. “From there, after doing that, you can reestablish the pace of play, start some play, and gain momentum.”

Prescott and Elliott ground games can generate that momentum on and off the field for Salvation Army campaigns. There is a kettle that social welfare providers are collecting to support Christmas gifts, food, shelter, rent and utilities, which are in increasing need due to pandemic poverty. The Salvation Army estimates that it will cost $ 175 million to keep Americans home this holiday season. Prescott said Elliott can expect “always a wonderful spirit.”

Jones said he would encourage celebrations involving red kettles, even if the league enthusiastically penalized provocations this season. Jerry Jones, owner of her father, the Cowboys, said she wanted to sue the league for such a penalty and make her more aware of the Salvation Army’s cause.

“I encourage their ingenuity,” Jones said. “It certainly took advantage of our visibility to encourage others to help and give back, but it’s just as important to us, and how important it is to us. Has influenced the spirit of our organization that we need to be part of this team.

“Every year we build on this and make everyone understand how important it is. They really accept it.”

Follow Jori Epstein on Twitter @JoriEpstein..

The Cowboys Salvation Army red kettle has become a Thanksgiving tradition

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