Friendship Bowl: Gridiron game proves to be a 'Rag Tag' affair


 By Tom Kirvan

Legal News
On a snowy Thanksgiving morning, hours before the big boys from Detroit would feast on their NFL rivals from Green Bay, a gridiron battle of a different sort played out in relative seclusion at Birmingham Seaholm High School.
There were no tailgaters. No marching bands or cheerleaders. In fact, there were no fans in the stands at venerable Maple Stadium.
Instead, what transpired was a football game in its purest form, the latest chapter in a Thanksgiving gridiron tradition that was highlighted by spirited and occasional dazzling play featuring some of the legal community’s heavy hitters.
“The game began about 11 years ago when my boyhood friend, Joe Stamell, called to suggest that we start a Thanksgiving Day touch football tradition,” said Ed Sosnick, retired Oakland County Circuit Court judge. “We would each have our own teams and use our family and friends as teammates. Thus the game, now known as the Friendship Bowl, began. Although the players have changed over time, Joe and I have loved the hoopla around the event and hope to keep playing as long as we can.”
Sosnick, who now serves as executive director of The RESTORE Foundation, the nonprofit organization that provides funding support for the drug court program in Oakland County, wears a multitude of hats at the annual game.
“I am team owner, general manager, and center, with my good friend, Judge Jim Alexander, as coach,” Sosnick explained in his inimitable way. “We are now known as ‘Alexander’s Rag Tag Team,’ commonly known as the Rag Tags.”
The name, he is quick to point out, does not reflect the relative talents of his team, which this year pulled out a 21-14 victory, thanks in large part to his 9-year-old granddaughter, Estee Rosett.  The young girl, sporting appropriate “Moon Boot” footwear, scored the winning touchdown, high stepping into the end zone for the decisive score.
While they have been friends since childhood, Sosnick and Stamell are on opposing sides come Turkey Day, each determined to prove their football manhood in a game where only passing is allowed. 
When his team was mired in a long losing streak several years ago, Sosnick wasn’t adverse to “tweaking the rules” in an effort to turn around his football fortunes. One year, he even enlisted the help of former Detroit Lion Luther Blue, a wide receiver and kick returner for the NFL squad during the late ‘70s.
“We were known as ‘Luther’s Blues,’ but it still didn’t help,” Sosnick said at the time, shrugging off another Thanksgiving loss.
Now, fresh from a coveted win on Thanksgiving Day, Sosnick believes that the “Rag Tags” may be hitting their championship stride.
“Just like the Lions,” he said with his ever-present smile.