Football, family and friends: Group gathers for 53rd annual Thanksgiving Turkey Bowl

MILWAUKEE -- Football and family are one in the same for a Milwaukee family, and they celebrated both on Thanksgiving -- as they took part in their 53rd annual Turkey Bowl!

53rd annual Turkey Bowl

Tom Kierzek

"Well, it started in 1965," Tom Kierzek said.

Kierzek was 11 years old when his mom, overwhelmed while cooking a Thanksgiving feast, ordered him and his eight rowdy siblings out of the house, and across the street to play a little football.

"We've never taken a break. Every year since 1965," Kierzek said.

The tradition has grown right along with the family.

53rd annual Turkey Bowl

53rd annual Turkey Bowl

53rd annual Turkey Bowl

"It's just the love of family, and that's what makes it special," Holly Sutherland, a cousin and first-year player said.

53rd annual Turkey Bowl

Cousins were the first to join the roster, and then their children, and eventually grandchildren.

"And maybe I can tackle one of the boys I babysat for. A little payback would be nice," Sutherland said.

Fifty-three Turkey Bowls later, Kierzek and his original teammates said they prefer touch over tackle.

"It used to be. Like I said, I think we've gotten wiser as we've gotten older," Kierzek said.

They've also stopped keeping score, and instead record the growing list of players with a different last name, who are helping carry on the tradition of family, football and now, friends.

"Next thing you know we are averaging 30-35 people!" Kierzek said. "Never turn anyone away."

53rd annual Turkey Bowl