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The Extra Mustard Why-Wait-for-the-Holidays Football Season Gift Guide

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For far too long, sports fans have been victims of imprudent and illogical scheduling: The football season—that magical time of year defined by four weeks of hope followed by 12 of disappointment—is already underway, but the holiday season—that magical time of year defined by gift-giving and gift-related disappointment—is still nearly three months off. That means fans won't get their entertainment center upgrades or backyard barbecue enhancements until the majority of the season is over and their teams have long since been eliminated. It's just not right.

In an attempt to tweak the timeline, Extra Mustard assembled has a football season gift guide—a checklist of items you'll want to buy now, while you can still extract maximum football utility from them. If loved ones find it strange that you're asking for presents—or going on a shopping spree—well before the holidays, just remind them that it means you'll be focused on their gifts come December. Or point out that they, too, benefit from having an Oilless Fryer in the home.

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Sharp Aquos 8 Series LED TVs

Aside from the occasional close-up on moist lineman hindquarters, having a pristine, high-def television can only improve the game day experience. The Sharp Aquos 8 Series was designed to be an agent of such enhancement, with vivid LED screens that provide the most immersive experience possible without the risk of concussion. Since the TVs are equipped with built-in Wi-Fi and split-screen functionality, you can even keep tabs on your fantasy league without ever peeling your eyes from all the crystalline butt shots. (Starting at $2,999, Sharp USA)

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egg_300Big Green Egg

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to use a grill—but when it comes to barbecuing on game day, it doesn’t hurt to have NASA working the coals. Built from the same high-fiber ceramics they use on the space shuttles, the Big Green Egg kamado-style grill gets hot quick, letting football fans cook up staggering quantities of meat without missing kickoff. It’s a versatile little fella, capable of satisfying any hankering with the help of accessories like the Big Green Egg pizza stone and the innovative jalapeno popper grill rack. ($800, Big Green Egg)

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surface_300Microsoft Surface 2

The average NFL broadcast features approximately 3,000 hours* worth of commercials. That leaves a lot of time to burn between plays. This latest iteration of the Windows 8 tablet** can power you through commercial breaks at extraordinary speeds, with plenty of compelling apps to stave off boredom. Like Cocktail Flow, for instance, or Bing Sports. (Though, like any computer device, its primary purpose is to serve as a vessel for hilarious pug videos.) ($449, Microsoft)

*Estimated

**Out October 22

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oilless_fryer_600Oilless Fryer

The perfect gift for any football fan would probably be to somehow give them more football. You can do exactly that with the Oilless Fryer from Hammacher Schlemmer, which, by using 80% less fat to fry foods, helps keep arteries clear. That obviously translates into more Sundays of football and wings before the reaper comes calling. Using an internal fan to circulate heat, the Oilless Fryer gets the same crispy outsides and juicy insides as cooking with oil, so there’s no compromise on taste. Just less untimely death and more football. ($249, Hammacher Schlemmer)

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Silver Oak Wine

If you’re looking to buy a gift for a football fan, resist stereotyping. Don’t assume, for instance, that watery domestic brews are the only acceptable alcoholic pairings for hard-hitting NFL action. Wine also works. We recommend picking up a cabernet from Silver Oak. Peyton Manning gives his retiring teammates cases of the stuff—and when it comes to anything football-related, it’s best to trust Peyton’s instincts. (Price varies by bottle, Silver Oak)

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hillrock_300Hillrock Double Rye

So you agree that football fans shouldn't be limited to beer, but aren't much of an oenophile? Whiskey is a logical companion to football in that you enjoy it for its force but appreciate it for its finesse. In that regard, the hand-crafted double cask rye from Hillrock Estate Distillery is a good pick for Sundays. Come winter, its long, warm finish will lend some balance to the frigid bloodsport on TV. (Price varies by bottle, Hillrock)

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beer_caddy_300Remote-Controlled Beer Caddy

Give a man a beer and he’ll drink for half an hour or so. Teach a man to use a personal beer-delivery robot and he’ll be set for life (or at least until the end of regulation). This RC beer caddy will fearlessly scoot across any terrain in order to deliver a beer to its master. Not since Cleatus has a robot seemed so well-suited for football. ($79, Hammacher Schlemmer)

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Tailgate Cornhole for the iPhone 5s

Can't make it to the game? There's an app for helping you pretend you're there—at least, in one very specific way. Tailgate Cornhole lets fans discreetly hone their cornhole chops right from the living room couch. What better way to ensure you won't be rusty next time you find yourself facing off against your nemesis in the parking lot? ($.99, iTunes)

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DECK Wireless Speaker

While bozing and face-stuffing are widely recognized as critical pregame activities, it's just as vital to have a steady playlist of tunes to establish the energy for the day. But since one man's pump-up jam is another man's irritating 80s flashback, the DECK wireless speaker by Sol Republic was designed to keep things democratic. Up to five friends can sync up and take turns controlling the music, ensuring that Jeff doesn’t kill the vibe with too much Van Halen. ($199, Sol Republic)

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The ultimate tailgating entertainment package

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Tailgating, when it comes down to it, is a game of one-upmanship. It's hard to have a fun time with a crackly iPod dock and thermos of hotdogs when the guys in the parking space next to you are serving Wagyu beef out the back of their double-decker RV entertainment palace complete with rooftop hot-tub. The trick is, you want your portable party to be impressive, but not too impractical. One guaranteed way to turn heads is to put together the sleek, outdoor home theatre experience described above and stream live broadcasts of games being played around the country. (Another is that double-decker RV with the hot tub.)

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Toyota RAV4

You’re probably familiar with the RAV4, though over the years this feisty little SUV has evolved into the ideal tailgating vehicle. The latest generations are equipped with a cargo area larger than most East Village apartments, along with a rear cross-traffic alert system to keep you from flattening your fellow fans. And with a 1,500-pound towing capacity, you can easily haul your smoker—or several defensive tackles—along to the game. (Starting at $23,300, Toyota)

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vest_600Mitchell & Ness Puffy Vest

Contrary to what shirtless lunatics would have you believe, there are better ways to show your team colors on a cold day than to slather yourself in body paint. Hypothermia’s a lousy souvenir, so keep that special football fan in your life warm with an NFL-themed puffy vest. ($90, Mitchell & Ness)

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tumble_tower_300Giant Tumble Tower

Before settling into the stadium to watch hours minutes of fierce competition, why not engage in some of your own? Assuming the amusement level increases proportionately, this life-size Jenga is probably 30 times more fun than the original, and exponentially more frustrating to boot. Consisting of 56 cleanly-crafted pine blocks, it makes for an insanely enjoyable time in the parking lot—that is, until an errant Frisbee destroys your block-stacking progress. ($139, Tosso)

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yeti_cooler_300Yeti Tundra 65 Cooler

When it comes to toting precious cargo, the only apparatus as important as your cooler is your baby seat. The Tundra 65 is heavy and sturdy and exactly the type of vessel you can trust to keep a case of beer and a stack of steaks cold all morning. There are two sets of handles—one pair molded into the side, and the other in rope form—so even when fully-loaded, it's not a beast to carry. Best of all, the cooler is bear-proof—y'know, in case you're a camper, or Packers fan who made the drive to Soldier Field. ($389.99, yeticoolers.com)

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handwarmers_300Zippo Hand-Warmer

There are moments, amid the alcohol-fueled revelry, when you can briefly forget how cold and miserable you are. Believe it or not, with a toasty Zippo hand-warmer, these moments can last all day. Doesn’t get your hands as hot as holding them over a plain ol’ Zippo would, but still pretty damn effective. ($19, Zippo)

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Edge of Belgravia Chef's Knife

Dinosaur BBQ founder John Stage once said the only knife you need at a tailgate is a chef's knife, and this seven-incher from Edge of Belgravia will handle any slab of meat you throw at it. (Don't throw your slabs of meat.) ($193, edgeofbelgravia.co.uk)

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ladder_golf_300Ladder Ball

Leave the PVC-pipe lawn games back at the frat house. This upscale ladder ball set has everything necessary to make your lack of coordination seem sophisticated: Solid hardwood construction, clean brass hardware, gloriously sturdy rungs. It’ll last forever, meaning it'll be a great towel rack once you reach your 80s. ($129.95, Ladder Golf)

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keizus_300Keizus Quadropod + Clamp

Funny things happen in tailgate lots. But for obvious boozy reasons, the good times often don’t preserve themselves in your long-term memory. Change that with the Keizus Quadropod + Clamp, a versatile grip-and-mount device that lets you set up your smart phone or tablet to capture whatever antics might be transpiring. ($39, Keizus)

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record_player_300Crosley Executive Portable USB Turntable

Mp3 players are everywhere these days. Take a look around whatever room you're in—there's assuredly a dozen different devices that could play an Mp3 if you asked nicely. But playing a record—that's a lost art. Class up your tailgate and add some sonic flourishes with Crosley's portable turnable. But rest assured: If any subsequent teasing is too much for you to take, the Crosley device can convert your records into Mp3s, you conformist. ($109.95, fredflare.com)

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galaxy_gear_300Samsung Galaxy Gear

Let's note this right off the top: This is not a standalone smartwatch. It does not get 4G service, and it will not work without a companion Galaxy Note 3 phone. And yet, none of that matters, because you either already have a Note 3, or you'll want to get one after seeing what the Gear can do. By linking up with your Note via Bluetooth, you can use the Gear to make and answer calls, read and send (via voice dictation) text messages, take photos and video, and receive notifications from an ever-growing array of apps. No more asking a friend to hold your brat (or beer, whichever you value less) when the phone rings, and gone are the days when you have to stand up from your cramped stadium seat and root in your pocket just to check a text. Simply glance at your wrist, and then get back to losing at Ladder Ball (or Tumble Tower). ($299.99, samsung.com/us)

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