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Tailgating: Making America Great Again

Posted by Dave On October - 7 - 2016
(Photo By Douglas Graham/Wild Light Photos)

(Photo By Douglas Graham/Wild Light Photos)

Deeply entrenched in the Presidential election season, there has been much debate on how to improve America. Questions on if America can be considered great or if it ever was great in our history about in this politically charged season. No matter where you fall on the political spectrum, one thing that is irrefutable is that tailgating, is making America great again.

Most people think back to a simpler time when we felt safe in our neighborhoods, we felt comfortable being around our family and friends and we lived carefree (not carelessly). No matter if that time was post WWII 1950’s, the Summer of Love in the 60’s, the “Living in Oblivion” 1980’s or another time in your life that holds a special place for you, we all want those times to return. And it dawned on me that through tailgating, those times we all cherish are embodied in tailgating.

This past Sunday prior to the San Diego Chargers vs. New Orleans Saints game, I took my eight year old son with me. We tailgated of course but despite not meeting up with the regular folks we normally tailgate with, we experienced a piece of Americana that has been missing for too long. A number of individual experiences all occurred within a three hours time span that reminded me of better times from the past.

The following is a primer on how things used to be back in the day, the time when people thought America was great, a comparison to nowadays and also how tailgating returns us to a simpler time.

Old America: Kids playing in the neighborhood until the street lights came on.
Nowadays: Kids locked up inside the house for fear of some random white van pulling up kidnapping the children off the front lawn.
Tailgating: This past weekend, there were kids all over the parking lot. They were out and getting some sunshine and tossing the football with each other. Parents were keeping an eye on the kids but they didn’t hover over them like helicopters and actually didn’t freak out if their kids talked to a stranger in the next parking space.

Old America: Kids going next door and asking “Can Jimmy come out and play”.
Nowadays: Organized play dates that resemble the spontaneity of cosmetic surgery.
Tailgating: Parked across from us was a family with four kids. One of the dads suggested the kids come over to our tailgating space and ask my son if he wanted to join them in tossing the football. My son accepted their invitation and gladly tossed the football around. The other dad came over and organized a game of street football right there between the parking stalls. I even heard the familiar call, “CAR!”, signaling the game needed to be suspended for 10 seconds while a car made it’s way to find a parking space. The kids all retreated to a safe spot along the sides of the roadway and then quickly resumed the game as if nothing had happened.

Old America: When baking a cake and short on an ingredient, going next door to a neighbor’s house to borrow a cup of sugar.
Nowadays: Getting in your car and driving to the store to buy that bag of sugar.
Tailgating: While tailgating, once you are parked, you are parked for the long haul. There is no pulling up stakes and running to the convenience store for more ice. I witnessed numerous times tailgating neighbors go to each other asking to borrow some mustard they apparently left at home or even some lighter fluid for their charcoal grill. Every single time, the tailgating neighbors gladly offered up the use of the missing items and even told them they could keep it as long as they liked. These were complete strangers until they parked next to each other and quickly became fast friends.

Old America: Friends with neighbors and invite them over for meals.
Nowadays: Only acknowledge your neighbors if you happen to check your mailboxes at the same time.
Tailgating: While tailgating and as more tailgaters trickled into the parking lot, the empty parking stalls started to fill up. Each time a new tailgater parked, they would exit their vehicle and introduce themselves to the folks that were parked next to them. Hearty handshakes between complete strangers occurred just because they chose to park in an empty space next to them.

Old America: Helping a neighbor fix their car in the garage.
Nowadays: “Sorry man, don’t you have Triple A?”
Tailgating: After the game was over and we made our way back to our car, we noticed a car parked near us with the hood up. (An apparent dead battery probably from playing their car radio for three hours prior to the game.) Instead of rushing to sit in traffic, the car with it’s nose facing the distressed vehicle popped it’s hood for a jump start. Neither vehicle had jumper cables and they both asked others around them if they could borrow jumper cables. Thankfully they didn’t have to ask for very long because another tailgater offered up the use of the jumper cables and even helped out to ensure the stranded vehicle got the proper jump. After the car was successfully started, they all shook hands and got in their cars and proceeded to the exits.

All of these instances were observed in the relatively short period of time while tailgating prior to the game and immediately afterwards. Whether your political leanings are left, right or middle of the road, you can’t deny that tailgating is one experience that shows how American culture can be good and decent to your fellow man, even if that tailgater is wearing the opposing team’s jersey.

Tailgating is truly making America great again.


Tailgating Fantasy

Posted by Dave On November - 12 - 2013

Man dreaming about tailgatingYou may recall that last year I worked in conjunction with Visa to help promote their #MakeItEpic campaign in advance of the Super Bowl. I am glad to announce that Visa has again tabbed TailgatingIdeas.com as an influential blog to help promote their #MyFootballFantasy Contest which will fulfill the fantasies of select football fans. I am blogging on behalf of the Visa #MyFootballFantasy Campaign and receive compensation for my time, but the thoughts, opinions, words and promotions are all mine and not that of Visa.

Because Visa will be selecting those fantasies of football fans and making them a reality, I thought it would be fun to submit my own. Now of course some aspects of my fantasy are impossible (unless someone knows how to make clouds rain bacon…) it is my football fantasy and I will be as unrealistic I want. After all, this is a fantasy, right?

5:30 AM – Alarm. The sweet sound of John Facenda, legendary announcer from NFL Films awakens me.

5:35 AM – Shower

5:50 AM – Get dressed in shorts, throw back jersey and Flip Flops

6:00 AM – Huge “Madden Cruiser” style party bus pulls up with 30 of my closest friends and family.

6:01 AM – Step onto the bus, immediately handed a Bacon Bloody Mary.

6:02 AM – Bus departs for Stadium for tailgating prior to the game.

6:05 AM – Bus merges onto the freeway. Entertainment in the cabin is a running loop of old school NFL Films Crunch Course videos.

7:00 AM – Enter San Diego County and immediately joined by a 12 car police escort complete with lights a sirens. Presidential motorcades don’t get this much respect.

moses parting red sea7:55 AM – Arrive at Gate 1 for some Qualcomm Stadium tailgating five minutes before the gates are supposed to open. We arrive. Gates open. Mental image – Moses parting the Red Sea.

8:00 AM – Bus parks within 12 parking spaces that have been coned off and reserved just for us.

8:01 AM – A racing pit crew comes out of nowhere and immediately unpacks the bus. The grill, beer pong tables, cornhole boards, tables, chairs and even the hi-def satellite signal is locked in in less than a minute.

8:02 AM – Step off the bus to a throng of cheers that would rival the original Beatles in 1964.

8:05 AM – Surveying the grilling area of the tailgate, notice that Bobby Flay and Emeril Lagasse are nearly in a fist fight over who will be cooking. Flay wins by pulling rank with experience with grilling. Lagasse gets in a few good body shots but has to settle for cooking for someone else.

8:10 AM – Stop by one of the fully loaded bars. Get served by Ted Lang who played Isaac the Bartender from the Love Boat TV show. Hands me another Bacon Bloody Mary and of course the double finger point. Informs me that when he is on break, Sam Malone, Coach and Woody from Cheers will be taking care of us.

8:15 AM – A Las Vegas mobile sports book betting kiosk magically appears taking all kinds of action. Drop $10,000 on the Over.

8:30 AM – The Swedish Bikini Team pulls up in their own van and will be our waitresses for the day.

8:35 AM – Eggs Benedict, bacon, hash browns and orange juice for breakfast.

9:00 AM – Good friend points out the homeless bag lady rummaging through the dumpster scavenging for aluminum cans. Upon closer look I recognize it is the snobby, Homecoming Queen that turned down my feeble attempts to ask her out back in high school. Laugh uncontrollably.

9:15 AM – Play all the traditional tailgating games; cornhole, ladder ball, washers, polish horseshoes and dominate them all.

10:00 AM – First set of all the early NFL games are projected onto an 18-Wheeler sized flatbed screen. Picture if the Sports Book at Ceasar’s Palace was moved outdoors… but bigger.

10:45 AM – Play four games of beer pong simultaneously. Go undefeated.

11:15 AM – Gatorade shower dumped over my head in celebration of my dominating performance. Immediately picked up and crowd surf the tailgate party.

11:45 AM – Fans of the opposing team stop by the tailgating area. Immediately take off their jerseys and hats, place them in a pile at my feet. They douse the clothing with lighter fluid but I get to drop the match.

12:00 PM – Lunch consists of Surf and Turf, and Baked Alaska for desert.

Raining bacon12:15 PM – Tailgate is slightly interrupted by a short thunderstorm. Instead of water, it’s raining bacon strips.

12:30 PM – Tailgating gear gets packed up by someone who is not me.

12:35 PM – Helicopter lands in the parking stall adjacent to ours. Picks me up to take me to MCAS Miramar. Hop into an F/A-18 Hornet to pilot the lead jet for the pre-game fly over.

1:00 PM – Low level fly over the stadium breaking the sound barrier while passing over the 50 yard line.

1:05 PM – Land jet and chopper back to stadium. Upon arrival back, a rickshaw pulled by a bikini clad Jaime Edmondson is waiting to take me to my seat.

1:15 PM – Kick off is immediately returned for a touchdown. My team leads 7-0 with 14:43 to go in the 1st quarter.

4:35 PM – My team caps off a great seesaw battle with a 60 yard Hail Mary that is caught for a touchdown as time expires in overtime. My team not only wins but earns home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Teams combined for 63 points. Hello Vegas Over!

4:45 PM – Back in the parking lot and the post-game tailgate is already underway. Despite having a police escort at our disposal, we opt for the post-game tailgate just because we can.

6:00 PM – Police escort out of the stadium while watching the Sunday Night Football game. Neck and shoulder massage by a bikini clad Kate Upton.

Now that you have read #MyFootballFantasy, how about yours? You can submit yours to Visa HERE and if they find yours to be the most fun and creative, you could have your football fantasy fulfilled.

Key entry details:
Enter at vi.sa/ENTER_INF05, follow Visa on Twitter or Instagram, submit your fantasy (up to value of $100K) and #MyFootballFantasy @Visa. Use Visa to enter OR mail-in with No Purchase Required – 18+ US resident. Judged on creativity, Visa’s & NFL’s brand image, match-to-theme & ability to fulfill. Thru 2/2/14 at 12am. 1 entry per person. http://vi.sa/RULES_0908t1

Chargers vs Texans Monday Night Football photo

Posted by Dave On September - 10 - 2013

If you are not following @TailgatingIdeas on Instagram or on Twitter, here is what you may have missed.

Jeremy With Chargers tailgating girls

This photo was taken yesterday while out tailgating prior to the Chargers/Texans Monday Night Football game. The guy in the hat is Jeremy McGhee. We met Jeremy in 2010 and he has been tailgating next to our normal spot ever since. Jeremy has lost the use of his legs after being hit by a car while riding his motorcycle years ago. Despite being in a wheelchair Jeremy is quite the inspiration to anyone he comes in contact. Jeremy is an extreme sports athlete, speaker and author and has accomplished more things without the use of his legs than most able bodied people have accomplished in their lifetime.

To learn more about Jeremy and what he does and to understand his story, visit: jeremymcghee.com

NFL conduct course for unruly fans

Posted by Dave On November - 14 - 2012

NFL Football fans fighting

As a season ticket holder to the San Diego Chargers, I tend to get my fair share of emails from the team. Most of them are emails promoting the latest merchandise or sale going on in their online store but one in particular caught my eye. It said “Chargers Fan Code of Conduct Update” in the subject line so it automatically piqued my interest. I opened the email and this is what I read.

Dear David,

As a Chargers Season Ticket Holder, our most loyal fans, the Chargers and the National Football League want you to be the first to know of additional steps being taken to create the most enjoyable and safe environment possible.

The NFL has initiated a policy that fans who violate the team’s Fan Code of Conduct may be required to complete the NFL’s four-hour online Fan Conduct Class and may be prohibited from attending future Chargers games at Qualcomm Stadium until they have completed the class and produced the Certificate of Completion.

The four-hour class focuses on, but is not limited to, fans with alcohol-related violations. The course is completely educational and meant to be a positive learning experience. It costs $75, including $20 that is donated to MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving). The remaining fee is paid to the course administrator.

Thank you for your continued support and cooperation in helping make Chargers games a positive experience for everyone.


Todd Poulsen
Senior Director of Ticket Sales and Services

To anyone who has gotten a speeding ticket or rolled a stop sign, this “Fan Conduct Class” sounds a lot like traffic school. I wonder if they have the stand-up comedy version of the NFL Conduct Class like many traffic schools offer?

In all seriousness, this addition to the fan code of conduct seems like a bit overkill in my opinion. The major motivating factor to complete this conduct course is that you will not be allowed back to another game unless you show your certificate of completion. Basically, the season ticket holders are the only ones affected by this new policy because the bar codes on their tickets could get flagged at the gate. But what about the drunken idiots that buy their tickets from third party vendors or just a scalper wandering around the tailgate party lots? Those fans can act like idiots and there is no way of tracking down where they got their tickets. I have never seen anyone get checked for an ID either in the security pat down or at the ticket scanning sections of the stadium gates. So how does the NFL plan to rid itself of these unsavory characters that are not season ticket holders?

Let’s face it, the NFL is not terribly concerned with the fan that drinks too much, nudes up and runs out on the field. Although that is a security and a safety concern we can all pretty much agree that the NFL is concerned with the foul language and more importantly the violent altercations that occur in the stands. Dropping numerous F-bombs and cursing out the opposing team’s best player because the home team’s quarterback just was sacked for the fifth time is annoying and a product of bad manners. Typically this behavior does not get one ejected from the stadium. Two fans engaging in fisticuffs, that’s immediate cause for an arrest and ejection. And this my fellow tailgaters is what the NFL is trying to nip in the bud.

Being a Chargers season ticket holder since 2004, I have attended my fair share of NFL games. In that time, I have seen a few fights break out in the stands. Luckily, no fights have happened in my particular section where my seats are located but I have been privy to a seeing a few fights occur one or two sections over. Of course this is my personal observation but rarely have I seen a fight break out between fans of the same team. Normally fights happen when an opposing fan gets a little too mouthy and a home team fan has had enough and it escalates into violence.

Assuming that the home team fan is a season ticket holder, what about the other combatant? Surely we are not to believe he too is a season ticket holder and attended this one game and sold off the remaining bulk of his tickets. Of course not. The opposing fan must have bought his seat online or from a scalper. By making the season ticket holder take a conduct course as his punishment is not solving the problem. The other fan gets ejected and possibly arrested but the punitive aspect of making the fans complete a code of conduct course before they can attend another game only punishes the season ticket holder. The visiting team fan can attend another game in the future by merely purchasing a ticket elsewhere.

This may backfire on the NFL and this code of conduct course requirement may embolden visiting fans to antagonize home fans even more. The threat of being ejected and possibly arrested for engaging in a fight at an NFL game was apparently not discouraging fans from fighting. Why else would have thought up and implemented this conduct course?

Look at it this way. You are a visiting fan who is complete jackass and wants to antagonize the home fans. Knowing full well that season ticket holders will get their tickets flagged and will not be able to enter the stadium for a future game unless this course is completed, do you think the home fans will be more or less inclined to engage in a possible altercation? I would compare it to a dog fight where one dog can harass the other one while the original dog is on a leash. Now NFL stadiums may be full of visiting fans who feel they can mouth off knowing the season ticket holders may not solve the problems on their own before calling the ushers.

Let me be clear, I am not in favor of fights in the stands and violence at football games. It just seems a bit unfair that the fans who are typically not the ones that start these altercations are the ones who are getting the additional punishment. I am not suggesting mob rule and that the home team fans should “protect their turf” but there is something to be said about not giving the visiting team’s fans more of an incentive to mouth off.

There has to be a better way but unfortunately the NFL has already implemented this policy and it looks as though it is here to stay.

Patriots Tailgating Grill

Posted by Dave On September - 13 - 2011

New England Patriots Tailgating GrillFrom time to time readers will email us and submit photos of their own tailgating grill that originally started off as a Margaritaville Tailgating Grill and they have converted it to their own team colors and logo. We received an email today from Gregg in Groveland, Massachusetts who submitted a few photos of his New England Patriots Tailgating Grill. His email follows:

Love the website, you do an awesome job, I visit it daily. Keep up the good work.

I saw your both the Chargers grills you customized and was blown away. I realized I had to do the same. Still can’t stop singing that Chargers theme song. I think I watched that video you did a few too many times :) Just cant beat that song.

I tried to do something a little different with mine, as far as painting the head shield 2 colors. I thought the red, white and blue with front handle looked like a good combination.

I tried getting all the colors of the Patriots logo represented in the grill. It was a lot of work, but I am happy with the results. Just finished it over the weekend, and the kids and I had a ball doing a “test run” in the driveway grilling some hot dogs before the Monday night game. I am looking forward to its debut at Gillette Stadium this Sunday for the home opener against your Chargers! Should be a great game, can’t wait!

As you can see I painted my [propane] tanks as well. I have a special 5 lb tank that I use for tailgating. It’s very convenient. I bust out it’s “big brother” just for my space heater for the cold weather games, to keep the tent nice and warm.

One little trick I did, was I wanted to put that decal you see on the bottom pipe of the hitch mount, but the design of the plate brackets caused the license plate to hang halfway in front of the bottom pipe. I wanted that decal to be visible so, I made a $2 modification using two metal T shaped brackets I got at the hardware store. I just broke off a piece of them, and used them to extend the height of the license plate brackets.

I hope you like the grill and it is a worthy of addition to your gallery :)

Thanks, and best of luck to your Chargers this year (except this Sunday) :)

Now take a look at his New England Patriots Tailgating Grill. (Click the images for a larger view)

Pointing out a few things in the photos, you’ll notice that Gregg is also using a Tanksetter to widen the base on his “big brother” tank. Looks like he customized that and painted it red to match the Patriots color scheme. You can also see that he used some silver heat resistant paint for the grill lid. And on a side note, the idea to extend the license plate brackets so as to display his Patriots decal on the bottom tube of the swing arm was brilliant.

If you want to customize your own tailgating grill, you should check out the DIY post we did back in 2009. There you will see the step-by-step instructional video along with written instructions on how to customize your tailgating grill. Some questions that may not be answered in the video are answered at our DIY Grill FAQ section. In there we answer questions about where to find the the replacement caps, what type of paint to use and even includes a coupon code to use when buying the center logo for the grill lid handle.

If you would like to see more photos of other Custom Tailgating Grills, click HERE.






About Me

TailgatingIdeas.com is a tailgating blog dedicated to bringing you the latest and most intriguing tailgating ideas out there. Whether it is the latest tailgating gear reviews, a great new recipe or a funny list to make you smile, our goal is to inform and entertain the avid and the casual tailgater alike.

Started in August 2007 by tailgating enthusiast Dave Lamm, TailgatingIdeas.com has evolved into an advocate for tailgaters rights and is not afraid to touch on controversial issues confronting those who frequent the tailgating parking lots.

To learn more about TailgatingIdeas.com and our team of writers, reviewers, cartoonists and contributors, please visit the About Us page.