Tailgate/Homegate Withdrawal, and the NFL Combine “Meat Market”

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Updated: February 24, 2013
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“The parking lot is my church, and I’m giving the sermons.”

~Doc, Tailgate/Homegate Pro

Greetings and Salutations to the Tailgate-Homegate Nation!

This is my first crack at this – this year, so I thought I would give you an overview of what you might be seeing from the tailgating-homegate fan standpoint on LWOS this coming season.  First off, it is a pleasure to be writing for such a dynamic and highly regarded website. I have been a daily reader for some time now, and written for many national publications, and know that sports and food is as perfect a marriage as bacon and cheese, and it belongs right here.

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Photo credit: Kate Dockeray

With the rare occasion that the wife and teen daughters were out of the house, like today, I am treating myself to watching the NFL combine this afternoon. It’s my first taste of ball since the power failure in NOLA. Speaking of sports and food, I am reminded that this collection of elite combine athletes on TV today is nothing more than a “meat market!” I mean, if you were at your butcher before gameday, looking to pick out some good rib-eye steaks to grill on some hardwood charcoal, you certainly would be taking a lot into consideration as a discerning buyer, wouldn’t you? You’d look at the meat marbling, whether it was dry-aged, the overall fat content and texture etc. All your reasoning skills, preferences, pixie dust and other criteria, all in all mean nothing, as you know and I know that judgement day takes place “on the plate.” The NFL combine is nothing more than the butcher pulling it out the case and showing you that marbling, or the attractive colour with his personal impressions. The NFL combine is nothing but window dressing in a meat market. Players need pads on, and some testosterone-filled Neanderthal in front of them on the line, to show their true worth. Making premium meat decisions at $7/Lb. from displaying that ribeye on brown wax paper in the hands of a meat expert is no different than judging an athlete in his long underwear. I hope you relate to this sports and food parallel.

Like fantasy football, tailgate culture is a natural extension of the most engaging sport on Earth – says me. I, like some of you nutbars, am physiologically dependant on football. I call hundreds of football super fans personal friends. Some of America’s best parking lot chefs and face-painting, costume-wearing “Super Fans” are my brothers in arms. Without debate, we are the very foundation of football culture in America.

Outside of parent-teacher interviews, putting out the trash, getting dog food, shopping for nut-free snacks, my week entirely (and I mean entirely) revolves around planning The Weekend. You know, planning the five-course menu, scanning injury updates, scouting roadtrip hotels, jumping on the fantasy waiver wire, and tracking what bozos haven’t paid me for groceries, is a great diversion to mid-life!

For many of us rabid-fan-types there is only a short off-season, an off-season nevertheless. With all that midlife crap we have dealt with over the years, thank God for that! No greater diversion can be had.  So what do we do with our short off-season? Just like early exit teams who clean out their lockers in December, slide through their exit meetings, then gradually heal their bodies, tailgaters’ and super fans’ only transition back to domestic life are the random thoughts of lowering their cholesterol after a season of excessive consumption of meat and paddadas. Other than that, it is absolute withdrawal. Personally, I’d hate to see my brain scan.

It’s searching out how to fill that void that engrossed our life this past season. This NFL Combine watching day is a small blip on the screen to feed me until I have to watch Roger Dodger ceremoniously bear hug 1st round draft picks like they just found their long lost uncle from WWII.

Personally, my plan has always been to treat my tailgating football-junkie lifestyle like a good NFL GM. You know, take a couple of weeks off, plan a roadtrip to a wild card game or insignificant Bowl game just to tailgate, take inventory of the season and crew in the lot and make the appropriate changes, clean house of worn-out tailgate apparatus where necessary, and go shopping to dream a little dream! Then prepare for the bear-hugging draft, national signing day, and/or OTA’s. Though a small break, it’s all that is necessary, or tolerated for that matter. So, whether you are a junkie like me, or are one of those in-and-out twice-a-season types, I will be talking to you.

I may be throwing everything at you this season, all from the eyes of the rabid tailgating homegating super fan.  I’ll be writing about just about everything, from: fan conduct policies/stadium rules to tailgates on a budget; from the best parking lots in America to a closer look into to an insider look at the pros; tried and true recipes and tricks of the trade to food and beverage pairings; from your tailgate ceremonies to the very best and most functional tailgate products in the business;  newsworthy roadtrips to the college and pro football halls of fame and the “big game”; and a little mix of food and alcohol safety and how to take care of you and your crew in the lot. To top that off, you can expect a closer look at America’s most recognizable football super fans, bbq and cocktail chefs, and the occasional celebrity to chime in on their favorite game day recipes and rituals. And I will round it out by taking that interactive tailgate party to the garage, patio, and living room – a snapshot of the new billion-dollar homegate sports market.

Along with the billion-dollar homegate culture, tailgate culture is a $20 billion industry in 2013. Football’s most ardent fans not only spend more, prepare for game day more, travel more, and eat more, they are now featured in popular media more than back-up quarterbacks and cheerleaders. Well, maybe not cheerleaders (thank G for cheerleaders!). They are football’s biggest brand builder, and more importantly the barometer for this sport. This column covers our perspective on everything that surrounds the gridiron on Saturdays and Sundays.  The parking lot is my church, and I’m giving the sermons.

Parking Lot Pro – “Doc” (www.tailgateradio.com) @gridironchef

Main photo credit: MrPessimist via photopin cc

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