The NFL season has finally arrived meaning not only can we watch football again, but it’s also tailgate time! The Patriots face the Steelers on Thursday Night Football to kickoff the 2015 NFL season. Unfortunately, the main stories about the Patriots this week have not been about this game or even this season. Deflategate and Spygate continue to dominate the airwaves and it’s getting to a point where many fans just want to focus on football. We’re not focusing on Deflategate and Spygate here today. How about a “gate” blog post with something refreshing, fun, and positive! Tailgate! This isn’t specific to Patriots tailgating. Our newest Titletown Ten post is for any football fan who enjoys tailgating. Tailgating is a great way to bring family and friends together before and after a game. For the Patriots fans, this is long overdue as we’re all ready to move on and watch an actual football game!
Here are the Top Ten aspects of a football tailgate.
#10. The Preparation. Any great tailgate starts with the planning. Hopefully, you have a large group and someone who can delegate the tasks. Who’s bringing the cooler? What are the options for food? What time are we meeting and where? This certainly isn’t the most enjoyable part of the tailgate, but it’s a big key to its success. Know the strengths of your friends and family and stick to those strengths. If a weakness gets exploited it can ruin what should be a quality tailgate. For example, we all have likely seen the guy who is in charge of drinks forget the ice. Have an “ice guy”. Have a “meats guy”. If someone isn’t reliable, that’s fine. Have him pay for parking. As Bill Belichick would say, “do your job!”
#9. The Weather. This is a huge factor to tailgating. It’s important because it determines how much room you’ll have in the vehicle to pack as well as your tailgate setup. Many fans hang in there and work through it if the weather is undesirable. Others choose to take the safe route and eat at a restaurant or bar. Usually the early fall games are fine. Even if it rains, as long as it’s not a downpour, it’s manageable. This should be the case Thursday night in Foxboro. As we get into October and November, it may be cold, but it’s a manageable cold. Once you get into December and January, it’s a different story especially for a night game. Does anyone remember the Patriots-Broncos playoff game a few years ago? If you were there, you’ll remember your drink freezing immediately after it was poured. Single digit temperatures, wind chills, and snow aren’t much fun during a tailgate. However, it can make for some memorable moments for people who aren’t prepared. This leads us to…
#8. The Attire. If the weather is good, a simple sweatshirt or game jersey is preferable. Some fans go overboard with the face painting and it’s always in good fun. Where this comes into play is during the cold weather games in January. How many layers?! There have been games where I’ve seen people who can’t move their arms because they’re too bundled up. Not ideal. They’re warm though. Always over prepare with extra clothes. The hand and toe warmers are also a key to success. You don’t want to be the guy who has to spend a quarter of the game in the rest room to warm up! The biggest key is always make sure your feet are warm. There’s nothing worse than getting stuck in a slushy area in the parking lot and ending up with wet and cold feet for the remainder of the day. Extra socks and waterproof boots are must haves!
#7. The Drive. OK, so we’ve established food, drinks, a tailgate plan, clothes, and you have your tickets. Double check on that last point! Now it’s time to drive to the game. Do your best to leave early. It’s always better to be early than late. There are tens of thousands of people looking to get there on time. Before leaving, double check that you have everything! Think about the little things. Condiments, grill tools, charger for the TV…these are all important. You’re with a bunch of people likely squeezed into a car with a grill, food, a cooler all stuffed in with you. Who cares? You’re about to have a lot of fun. Making the time go by with some good football banter is the key. What’s your fantasy lineup? Debate teams, players, and enjoy it.
#6. The Setup. Once you get parked, you’re ready for some food. We’re not there yet. After the long drive, it’s time to set up. Get the grill out. View your surroundings. Argue about who’s going to set up the tent if it’s needed. Grab a drink while all this is happening and start enjoying the festivities. A good tailgate has the following: A grill, a cooler, a TV, a game to play, and some type of coverage or tent if it’s needed. Once you’re set up, the hard part is over and it’s on to the top 5!
#5. The Fellow Fans. Right when you park, you already have a good idea of what your surroundings may be like that day. Are you next to the guy who has nothing except for two chairs? Or, perhaps, you’re next to the guys playing video games. Yawn. Or maybe it’s obnoxious fans for the opposing team who are looking to enhance the debates. Most likely, it’s a good crowd and a group who is just looking to have a good time. I’ve found in the tailgates I’ve been to that people are very helpful and friendly. Everyone is there for one purpose and that’s to have fun.
#4. The Games. A good tailgate requires a game to play to keep the fun going. The most common game now is tailgate toss. This is otherwise known as corn hole or baggo. Get a good game going with your friends and even invite some others from the area around you. It can make the experience even more enjoyable. It can also make it more competitive as well! Remember, you’re going to a football game. Get some competition in on your own before the big game! Just don’t find the ringer who can beat everyone in your group! I can tell you from experience, this can be annoying.
#3. The Discussions. Whether it’s with your friends or some other tailgaters around you, the best part of the tailgate is the discussions. It’s an opportunity to catch up with friends. You can also get to know people around you from other cities and get their perspective on sports and a variety of other topics. It also can get some good trash talk started before the game! Patriots fans: Remember, you currently have bragging rights. Use them!
#2. The Food/Drinks. A good tailgate always has a wide variety of food. Starting off with some chips and nachos is the way to go. Then start the grill up and get the burgers, hot dogs, chicken tips, or steak tips going. Always bring extra meats and supplies in case you choose to tailgate after if there’s too much traffic. I recommend taking your time and spacing out the food. It’s the best way to go. Don’t cook it all at once. Bring a variety of drinks for a larger group.
#1. The Game. After the tailgating is done, it’s now time to focus on the real reason you’re there. For Patriots fans, these last 15 years have been a pleasure to watch. We’ve had an opportunity to watch one of the greatest NFL runs of all time. Thursday Night is going to be a lot of fun. For many fans, it will be about an us against them type mentality to the league and the rest of the country. For the other fans, it will be about celebrating a great run to a championship for a great team. The Patriots are raising the banner and then hosting the opening game of the NFL season. You simply can’t beat that! Enjoy these moments…
The NFL season is upon us! Enjoy tailgating this year!