Imagine if you weren’t a fan of the most popular sport in your country… here in the United States that is the NFL, hands down. Imagine growing up not liking football and gravitating towards another sport that is rarely played in your home country but is wildly popular somewhere else thousands of miles away…. something like how cricket is popular in Australia or Bangladesh. Now you are starting to get the understanding of what it is like to be Adam Goldstein.
Goldstein is the “crazy Brit” that sold his flat in London, took the proceeds to fund his cross country trip across America to see every NFL team play at least once during the 2008 season. Did we also mention he did all of this while leaving his beautiful girlfriend back in England to pursue this ultimate dream? And all the while during his travels did his passion for the NFL and the game of football grow even more he found a new passion and love. No, he didn’t meet a new girl and forget about all about Stephanie back home. His new mistress became tailgating and the culture and customs that comes with the pre-game party in the parking lot.
Goldstein earlier this NFL football season published a book entitled Tailgate to Heaven: A British NFL Fan Tackles America. The book chronicles his adventure from becoming an NFL football fan at a very young age while growing up in London to hatching the idea to travel the United States to watch as many NFL games as he could in one season. We got our copy of the book well in advance of it becoming published because not only had we become friends with Adam over the years while he was doing this trip but after he had returned to England. In the interest of full disclosure, we even endorsed the book prior to it going to press and our testimonial is the the third one quoted on the book’s back jacket. Also in the interest of full disclosure, we were not compensated in any way for this endorsement that appeared on the back of the book. Despite having an advanced copy of the book months ago, we have chosen to publish our book review of Tailgate to Heaven: A British NFL Fan Tackles America now because in advance of the holiday season, this is typically a heavy season for book purchases to be given as gifts. As you might imagine we think this book would make a great holiday gift for any tailgaters on your Christmas gift list.
Tailgate to Heaven opens with a brief introduction on how Goldstein’s plan to travel to the United States was hatched on a flight back to England. From there the first chapter describes how in the world a young Brit could shun the sport of soccer, risk ridicule and ostracism by not playing the sport beloved and cherished by his fellow classmates and how he gravitated towards a sport that was hard to find on TV, difficult to understand it’s rules and was misunderstood outside of the United States. All of this and he became a Chicago Bears fan and not a fan of any of the English soccer teams. Quite a challenge as a young man growing up but as a young adult, Goldstein hatches a plan to make his life even more difficult.
The plan was to travel the United States in a car and see every NFL team in the 2008 season. He planned to see every NFL team at least once either by attending a home game of the team or to see the team as a visitor. He was not only successful in the original plan to do it all in a 17 week NFL season, he managed to mix in a couple of college football games, a high school football game and even an NFL Wild Card playoff game. All the while eating and drinking and tailgating his way across America.
Although I thoroughly enjoyed the first chapter of the book, reading about the genesis of Adam becoming a fan of American football, tailgaters will enjoy the descriptions and details of Adam’s perception of the uniquely American culture that is tailgating. I found myself becoming more and more excited for Adam as his trip was building. He originally came to America in search of a way to satisfy his thirst for seeing the NFL up close and personal, but something funny happened on the way to to the stadium. Adam Goldstein became a changed man. He transformed. Dare I say, he evolved. He became a tailgater.
The bulk of the book chronicles Adam’s 40 game trip crisscrossing the United States via rental car and via airplane and the experiences he took in. As the trip wore on, Goldstein’s focus was less on the games and he found himself stressed out and feeling anxiety about losing “tailgating time” if a flight was delayed or if he experienced car trouble. The most common delay was a problematic GPS system he nicknamed “Gippy” that would send him down rural roads and sometimes on the wrong side of the road. Although the original intent of the trip was to see football games, Adam found himself going into the games after kick-off or missing the entire first quarter in order to tailgate longer or meet legendary tailgating icons like Joe Cahn. This evolution from football fan to tailgater is what I think is the best aspect of the book. It proves our point that football and tailgating are inherently intertwined and you can not have one without the other. The game day experience is not the same if tailgating were to be abolished and the same goes for tailgating. You never see anyone with their trunk open, drinking beers and grilling in an empty parking lot without a game or concert happening in the immediate future.
The book is smartly written and includes a look into Adam’s dry and sarcastic humor all while detailing the ups and downs of taking on a road trip of this magnitude. I found myself becoming jealous of Adam as I read the book. Not because he was able to see 40 football games but because he was able to experience so much tailgating in the course of less than 20 weeks. His liver must have been throbbing when he finally went home to England after weeks of kegs stands and the endless liquor shots that always seemed to Adam as if he was ingesting molten lava. But it wasn’t all drinking all the time. Adam consumed all sorts of American cuisine from all sorts of exotic animal flesh like alligator to wild boar and venison to the tailgating staple of Cheese Whiz squirted directly into one’s mouth from the can. All of this tailgating is done in a short amount of time and if you have only tailgated at your home stadium, this book gives you a sense of what the tailgating culture and atmosphere is like all across the NFL.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is not only interested in NFL football but more if you are interested in the unique American culture that is tailgating. As of today, you can get your own copy of Tailgate to Heaven: A British NFL Fan Tackles America or pick up the book for those tailgaters on your gift list, for $20.65. This price may change but as of today and this publishing, that was the price we saw on Amazon.
Hats off to you Adam for a great trip and a wonderful read. We salute you and your book and for allowing us to come along on your trip across America and into the tailgating lots vicariously.