Editor’s Note: Even though we have a Tailgating Babes section devoted to bringing you photos and a little eye candy of the female form, normally the women featured in there are not truly tailgaters. Sure they are women we all would love to invite and host at one of our tailgates but they are rarely tailgaters themselves.
This guest post is actually written by a tailgating babe. Stephanie Capon is the fiancé of Adam Goldstein, the U.K. NFL football fan that we introduced to you all back in 2009. Through his experiences while doing his football trip in the United States, Stephanie got to taste (literally) what the tailgating lifestyle was all about on her trips to visit Adam. In advance of Goldstein’s book, Tailgate to Heaven: A British NFL Fan Tackles America being released, Stephanie took to the computer to put down her thoughts and opinions on how she evolved from an unknowing and uninformed British newbie into a tailgating babe herself.
Growing up in London, England, I knew very little about American Football and even less about tailgating. I always thought that tailgating referred to driving too close to the car in front and that American Football was just a funny version of soccer. (sorry!) But after meeting Adam, I soon learned otherwise.
After dating for just a few months, Adam’s love of American Football became clear, most memorably during the 2006 Superbowl. Although I had university deadlines coming out of my ears, the Chicago Bears were playing and knowing that this was Adam’s team, I showed my support.
I didn’t mind – Adam was showing the game in his nice apartment in Canary Wharf, overlooking the River Thames and there were plenty of snacks on the go. I could forgo a night in my student digs for this. As it happens, I slept through most of the game but I did see the half time show and I enjoyed getting my snack on. Not a bad night for me. “This might work well”, I thought. Adam likes the NFL and I like the constant snacking that seems to go hand in hand with American football. Marvelous.
Then a year later, in aforementioned lovely apartment, Adam told me he was going to sell it to fund his ambitious road trip to see a live NFL game at EVERY NFL stadium during the regular season.
Naturally I thought Adam was crazy, but I was impressed by his guts and the passion that he showed. Adam ensured he told everyone he knew about his plan, his logic being that if he told everyone, there was no backing out. Meanwhile I wondered why he wanted to go and spank all of his money on watching a bunch of guys run after a pigskin. Adam assured me that the NFL and the fans it attracted were not the same as what I had experienced with English soccer and a far cry from lager louts, aggressive behavior and blatant sexism.
My first real taste of American Football came in October 2008 when Adam took me to the London game at Wembley, when the Saints played the Chargers. Of course this was not quite the same as the real deal in the States and the tailgate was not as raw as a bunch of fans just grilling up in the parking lot – it would be illegal to do this. Hey, if rain doesn’t ruin our events in the UK, health and safety usually does a fairly good job of it. But the NFL UK put on a brilliant fan zone and I had a good day. I was happily surprised at the family friendliness of the sport and just how dedicated the fans were. I was beginning to see why Adam was doing his trip and wanted to see what the tailgate was all about and experience it for myself.
Fast-forward to December 2008 and there I was in Charlotte, North Carolina for a Panthers game, having flown in to meet Adam on our two-year anniversary. The previous year Adam had taken me to Milan; this year it was a Monday Night Football game with a romantic meal for two in the parking lot. But you know what? I can’t complain as I ate quite possibly the best steak I have ever tried. We met a lovely family who had no clue who we were, but heard our story and sat us down for a lovely romantic dinner.
After our quick date, we headed into the stadium but I noticed the number of people still hanging out and just partying with friends in the parking lots. I was now beginning to see the whole event and understood Adam’s fascination with NFL and all that surrounds it from the tailgate to the game. The fans were incredibly friendly and I was surprised how friendly the sport was. I noticed a greater number of women than I had ever seen at any soccer game in the UK and also took in their dedication to the sport.
After my first game, we tailgated in Chicago, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Kansas City, Tampa Bay, the Capital One Bowl game and Miami, but it was Jacksonville that I will always remember. We were staying with a friend of Adam’s from his flag football days and so we were a part of the tailgate from the beginning. Early in the day we went to the store to get supplies and then drove to the parking lot and set everything up for the tailgate. Previously we had been invited to other people’s tailgates but this time we really were a part of it.
To be honest, the highlight for me was meeting Jaxson DeVille, the Jaguars mascot. He came over to meet us before the game and like that, I became an instant Jags fan. I had never seen a zip-wiring mascot until that day and he had me sold! At the game itself, the crowd was very social and I loved that I was able to chat to loads of different people at the Bud Zone bar while Adam watched the game. It was ideal. Once again I had a snack and a Bud in my hand and Adam was watching the football without me complaining. I became aware of the variety of things to do at an NFL game, far more than would appear to a TV viewer.
The tailgating really allows us both to enjoy the game day. If Adam goes into the game, he knows that I’m safe and having fun whilst he is happy watching the game in the stadium. I’m really excited about checking out so many tailgates this summer and will be with Adam for four weeks of his eight week book tour for his up-coming book Tailgate to Heaven.
In 2008 we had a blast checking out all the food at the tailgates, as well as the local eateries. I’m really excited to try the food from New Orleans and I can’t wait for this trip and to meet more tailgaters out there. I will be checking out the tailgates at the Hall of Fame for the Enshrinement weekend, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Oakland, New Orleans, Houston, Nashville and Tampa Bay and I can’t wait!
To check out the Tailgate To Heaven book tour, visit tailgatetoheaven.com/book-tour/ and you can follow Adam’s entire tour of football stadiums by following him on Twitter, @tailgateknight. Stephanie will join Adam for a portion of his book signing tour and you can also follow her on Twitter, @StephaliciousC.