The MMQB presents NFL 95, a special project running through mid-July detailing 95 artifacts that tell the story of the NFL, as the league prepares to enter its 95th season. See the entire series here.
Ribs and burnt ends in Kansas City, kielbasa in Pittsburgh, beer-can chicken in Cleveland, beer brats in Green Bay, fish tacos in San Diego, beef on weck in Buffalo, char-grilled gulf oysters in New Orleans, smoked brisket in Houston. If this list doesn’t make your mouth water, it should at least conjure images of one of the NFL’s finest time-tested rituals: tailgating.
And where would fans be without the ultimate tool of backyard-to-stadium convenience, the grill? Enter a stadium parking lot a few hours before kickoff, and you are likely greeted with a waft of charcoal-heavy smoke. Thousands of fans congregate around parked cars, tents and grills in extreme heat, bitter cold, harsh winds, rain, sleet, snow and everything in between. It’s not a way to kill time before kickoff, but rather a football tradition epitomizing the camaraderie of a fan base. Tailgating represents the devotion not only to a team, but also to the traditions those teams have become synonymous. Faces are painted, fight songs are recited, beverages are consumed, footballs are tossed and the aura of optimism is contagious. These few hours represent football fandom at its purest, and thanks to the grill, it tastes delicious.