Santa Claus and the NFL: A Comprehensive Partial History

It’s one of the most infamous incidents in NFL (and North Pole) lore. December 15, 1968, Philadelphia, PA. The famously ugly Eagles fans, angered by the fact that they lived in Philadelphia and cheered for the Eagles, turned even uglier on Santa Claus during his appearance in the halftime show. Not only did they shower him with boos, they pelted him with snowballs, which is a great insult in his country. It’s like when that guy threw a shoe at George W. Bush.

It was a dark day for Santa, and a worse one for Philly; the Eagles wound up losing to the Minnesota Vikings. But that’s not the only time Santa has appeared on the gridiron. Football is a winter sport. The NFL dominates Thanksgiving, and it puts the “CTE” in “Christmastime.” Here are some of Santa’s lesser-known pigskin excursions:

December 2014 – Foxboro, MA: Pat Patriot once dressed up as Santa Claus. Or is that Kris Kringle himself, disguised in a mascot noggin? It’s hard to tell them apart, since they’ve both brought so many gifts to those who believe in them. Last year, Santa brought yet another Lombardi Trophy, which the Patriots are loathe to re-gift. Maybe next year he can bring Bill Belichick some sleeves.

December 2013 – Cleveland, OH: Santa Claus hasn’t brought Cleveland much lately. In fact, the city’s toys were taken away altogether in 1996, although that move was likely the result of an unholy alliance between Art Modell and Krampus. Still, couldn’t the man in red bring the boys in Brown (and traffic-cone orange) a little something to help them make the playoffs? He did, at one point, try to pitch in. Little-known fact: Santa was one of the Browns’ 25 starting quarterbacks in the last 16 years. He started—and lost—a pair of games back in 2004, throwing two touchdowns and three interceptions. He’s a strong pocket presence and he reads the defense well, but he’s not mobile (that belly like a bowlful of jelly limits his scrambling ability) and, sadly, Blitzen struggles to catch the ball with his hooves.

April 1983 – Santa Claus, IN: This one doesn’t directly involve the man himself, but he’s implicated. Santa Claus, IN is the birthplace of Jay Cutler. What’s more improbable: that Cutler is still a starting quarterback in the NFL, or that there’s a town called Santa Claus? In Indiana? I’m not exactly sure about Saint Nick’s affiliation with this municipality, but I’m holding him accountable for the bum gift he gave the football world. The most important question about Santa Claus: Does he have a return policy?


Bryan Miller is a writer and comedian. All he wants for Christmas is more Twitter followers.