Ravens Roost

February 25, 2010 5:31 PM

Tailgating Raven Style

NgataShirtsJets2009-TailGate.jpgIt doesn't matter how bad your work week was, or how many problems you have lying ahead, come game day all of that goes out the window. When you're out there tailgating with friends and family there isn't a care in the world, except perhaps that the Ravens win this weeks contest. I'll be honest, in my busy life tailgating is about the only time of the week where I can let it all go and just relax. It's more than a recreational activity, it's therapy for the mind.


The best way I can describe tailgating is it's like going to a family reunion with people you've never before met. And it happens every time, you meet friendly people who are just as passionate about football as you are, who like many of the same things you do, and just exude a friendly persona. I'll usually tailgate with many of the same people from game to game but you are always going to be parked next to another group and that's where the new friendships emerge.

As great as it is to make new friends everyone there knows the number one item on the agenda is the food, and this is where you'll see a great deal of variety and passion. You've got everything from the guy with the tabletop charcoal grill to the guy with the Pegasus 2,000,000 BTU flamethrower that could melt the tires on your truck if you happen to be too close. And as varied as the cooking methods are the the variety of food is even greater. You have the people who are happy with simple hamburgers and hot dogs all the way up to the guy who is barbecuing a full side of beef. (This is usually the guy with the Pegasus Flamethrower)

Myself I try to vary the menu each week depending on who I'm taking to the game. One week I might fry up some fish, crab cakes and shrimp, then do some country style ribs and fried potatoes the next.  But, no matter what you plan on making the rule of thumb is to bring enough to share with those around you. Believe me they'll return the favor. I don't think I've ever purchased the overpriced food inside the stadium in all the years I've been going to games. I'm usually way too stuffed to even make the walk up to the gate. But that's a good thing.

Baltimore fans have a very healthy attitude towards tailgating. Because the stadium is located downtown you'll find every company parking lot, every side street, and every nook and cranny filled with fans tailgating. It just exemplifies the fact that football isn't just a game, it's an event. A raucous carnival type of event.

I've been to other stadiums, such as the one that hosts the Dolphins that changes its name twice a year, where tailgating doesn't even exist. That day I saw one couple with a tiny charcoal grill making hot dogs. That was it for the entire parking lot! What is wrong with these people? Texas Stadium in Dallas was a little better but they couldn't hold a candle to Baltimore.  So much for everything is bigger and better in Texas, don't believe it for a second.

Tailgating in Baltimore runs the entire gambit of weather as well. You have the early season games that can be very hot, you have the mild Fall afternoons, and then you have the cold blustery games that test your mettle as a fan. I took my daughter to the Raven final home game this season against the Chicago Bears right after the killer snowstorm we had in December. As a true fan I left my home on the Eastern Shore before 7:00AM traversing the snow and ice covered roads to make sure we would get a spot in Lot O. When we got there around 8:15 we were the third vehicle on the lot which made me think there were going to be a lot of no shows. In many cities that might be the case, but not in Baltimore. Before 10:00 the lot was packed as we all stood out in the 20 degree temperatures and braved the wind as we went about cooking our food and engaging  with the hearty folks we parked next to. This my friends is football, it's more a religion then anything else and the parishioners are as faithful as you'll ever find.

Now comes the wait. The Winter will drag on and there is little news about the team. These are called the dark days. But eventually Spring will arrive and the Ravens will be busy with the draft and then mini camps. The Summer will bring training camp and the excitement of which players are going to make the final roster. But as Summer ends and many peoples spirits are down mine will just be getting primed. I'll be busy cleaning up all of my tailgating gear and getting started on planning my menus for the upcoming season. For me it can't come soon enough. 



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