It started as a verbal guarantee a couple years ago: Brian Gorman knew he could make a 35-yard field goal barefoot.
It ended as the community event of Thanksgiving Weekend, if not the entire holiday season.
“A bet was made two years ago, no one ever went through with it,” Gorman said. “My beautiful sister-in-law finally pepped up, got sick of hearing everyone complain that no one was ever doing it and here it is.
“We did it.”
The wager came back up a few weeks before the gracious day, appropriately named and advertised as La Soup de Sore.
The French-English title butchers both languages but is perfect. It’s inspired by Brian’s nickname, “Soupy,” and the misspelling of the French phrase that translates to “The Evening Meal,” promises pain post contest for the retired athlete (whose career ended after his high school football seasons).
The plan to kick barefoot was based in Gorman’s passionate New England Patriots fandom. Blame (or thank) Tony Franklin.
Even before NFL kickers missed a record 12 extra points the Sunday before the Main Event (which are kicked 10 yards closer to the goal line than Gormans were), Gorman’s friends were mostly sure he’d miss.
In the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, one betting pool grew into three — how many different ways could the football never make it through the uprights?
The blindly-drawn picks listed creative and well-thought-out options including misses due to a broken toe, backing out or kicking his holder — brother Tim — instead of the football.
Only one option in each pool showed faith in the non-kicker’s kicking ability. The error: no option included a failed event due to a locked football field and lack of access to a goalpost.
Naturally, that happened.
As the bloody Mary pregame which is the customary start to each NFL Sunday for Gorman and his buddies wound down on Thanksgiving Day, scouts who’d traveled to the local high school field ahead of the athlete and crowd reported bad news.
The field was locked, yes each gate was checked, it was time for a back up plan.
…Only for quitters.
Gorman and the 15-plus people who were meeting up were #ThankfulFor the high school alumni in tow: they’d help find a way in.
In the end, the creative-thinking group found a way (over or under, but not through the fence) to watch the warm-up kicks and the ones worth something.
Gorman ditched his socks and shoes as soon as he made it onto the field, spectators who’d missed the pregame but beat the crowd moved sideline benches to the right hash and everyone began watching practice kicks.
Working his way back from the 10-yard line to the 25-, it looked like Gorman had both the accuracy and distance needed to prove most of his audience wrong — he missed some, but made many, as he admitted: “It’s a little bit further than I thought.”
“I was nervous because I missed quite a few of those (practice attempts) as well,” he said. “I was shaking to the left.”
Despite the jitters, uplifted by ‘Rocky Balboa,’ blasting out of the stadium’s cell phone speakers on repeat and in front of multiple cameras: Soupy split the uprights on his first official try!
“I felt pretty good, it was a fun day, a good Thanksgiving,” he said. “I’m happy.”
The next two kicks weren’t as successful, both had the accuracy but fell short.
The wager winners: the two who ceremoniously throw in the most money and win least often. Call it a holiday miracle.
The truth of it though, five-year-old Keegan Gorman and six-year-old Connor Gorman arrived with their mother on time, ahead of the 11:30 practice start time advertised on official event signs.
Given the family plans among the congregation, however, event staff had called an audible the night before and moved kickoff to 11:15.
Gorman’s VIP audience missed the show. The only option: kick three more field goal attempts.
The result: two of three kicks made for those who matter most.
“It’s not going to get me to the NFL, but it was a fun time, I’m happy the boys were here,” the father said.
Without question, there is a push for La Soup de Sore to become an annual event. But Gorman announced his retirement to his sons after bettering his field goals made percentage.
“It’ll probably take until next year for my leg to heal because it’s still numb,” he said. “I’ve got some Bengay at home.
“I’m guessing we might be waiting a year or two.”
No word yet if another breakout kicker will emerge in time for Turkey Day 2017.