Which NFL team has the best tailgating?
Welcome back to the Yahoo Sports NFL Mailbag, where we’re taking your questions via Twitter, Facebook, email and screaming into the void. Got a question? Hit us up by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or see below. Today, we’re talking tailgates, best Chiefs, relegation and cloning. Let’s roll!
If you could travel to any stadium in the NFL for tailgating purposes only, where would you go?
-Maggie, via Facebook
Let’s put aside the fact that college tailgating > pro tailgating, forever and ever, amen. I live in Atlanta, and while the Falcons have done a fine job of creating a safe, refined tailgating experience, for much of the Falcons era, tailgating was done in an area known as The Gulch. Yes, really. The nexus of a number of railroad tracks and overpasses, you’ve seen The Gulch — it’s the shooting location for a bunch of movies (the opening Lagos battle scene in “Captain America: Civil War,” for instance) and television shows. Here’s The Gulch in a scene from “The Walking Dead” (strong warning for those with weak stomachs):
Yeah, that looks like The Gulch of my memories — trash-strewn lots, wrecked cars, ugly Tampa Bay fans wandering around all lost and beaten up (zing!).
Anyway, where were we? Oh yeah, tailgating. I spent way way too much time thinking about this, and I finally decided on three metrics to judge a pro tailgate:
Quality food: A must. You want a strong local flavor, not some lame-ass anonymous-pack-of-franks-on-a-gas-grill tailgate. Tailgating is about eating foods that are bad for you before watching a game that is bad for others. There is no shortcutting here.
Halfway decent team: This is for the purposes of tradition. A terrible team with no tradition isn’t going to have people showing up to tailgate, and tailgating is all about concentrated humanity. Nobody gives a damn about five lonely Titans fans tailgating. But Cleveland fans tailgating en masse even in the face of certain oblivion has a certain noble quality to it.
Engaged/psychotic fanbase: This is a fine line here, one that I admit wavers depending on who’s doing the judging. One person’s devoted homer is another’s candidate for incarceration. But bottom line: this ain’t the symphony, dog. Act like you’re having fun.
So with these points of judgment, I come up with three strong NFL tailgating options:
Kansas City: Astonishing barbecue, strong team fueling fan optimism
Green Bay: Cheese for days, longstanding tradition, literally nothing else to do
Buffalo: Lunatic fanbase, quality meats, a thrill-ride of desperation
Bottom line, though, I gotta look further south. All the way to New Orleans. Yes, it pains me as a longtime Falcons fan to say this, but tailgating has to be the best before Saints games. “Mildly intoxicated” is the default state of the city. The food is so good it deserves its religious levels of devotion. Throw in the occasional second line marching by and the fact that the Saints are a damn good team, and you’ve got your best tailgating experience in the NFL.
Now go, and invite me when you do. I promise I won’t get sick until after the game.
Which Kansas City player other than Patrick Mahomes is the most indispensable?
-Terry, via Facebook
Not the defense, ha ha ha! Kansas City’s entire philosophy is built on having the offense outrun the defense, and so far it’s working. But that’s going to get put to the test Monday night when they face the brakeless locomotive that is the L.A. Rams. (Tip: take the over.)
As for who’s the most valuable? It’s got to be Tyreek Hill. Regardless of whether he’s primarily a receiver or a kick-returner, he’s unguardable. As strong a runner as Kareem Hunt is, all you gotta do to stop him is just throw beef upon beef upon beef at him, and eventually he’ll slow down. Hill can’t run through walls, he just runs right up and over them. It’s like trying to keep the sun from lighting up the Earth.
This is a pretty recent commercial, as real life goes, but it’s forever in NFL terms — the players spotlighted are Shawne Merriman and Steven Jackson, the teams spotlighted don’t play in the same towns anymore, and the hits spotlighted would mean flags up and down the field. That said, like a double cheeseburger or listening to ‘80s hair metal, it’s really bad for you but it’s still awesome.
When will Alabama get moved up into the NFL and the Raiders get moved down?
This is exactly the kick in the ass that NFL teams need — the threat of relegation. (For those not aware of the intricacies present in English Premier League soccer, the worst teams in any given year get relegated to lower divisions, while the best teams in those lower divisions step up and take their place.) We all know that a pro team — yes, even the Raiders — would absolutely smoke Alabama. But what if you put the threat of getting booted out of the league?
Just for the hell of it, let’s do a little thought experiment, moving up the NCAA national champion and moving down the worst NFL team. (And let’s pretend that the college team wouldn’t immediately get bounced the next year.) So by that rationale, we’re looking at the following shuffling:
Moving up: Ohio State, moving down: Tampa Bay
Moving up: Alabama, moving down: Cleveland
Moving up: Clemson, moving down: San Francisco
Moving up: Georgia, moving down: New York Giants
Come on, that would be great — seeing Cleveland flailing in the Big Ten and Tampa Bay struggling in the SEC! Hell, if nothing else, they’d be playing before bigger crowds.
How long until they start cloning some of the all time greats? It might help some of these teams to have Joe Montanas or Larry Czonkas.
-Dale, via Facebook
We’re deep into the weirdness this week, aren’t we? But this presents us with another interesting speculative experiment. Look, if you dropped Joe Montana or Larry Czonka or William Perry or Jim Brown into the current NFL, they’d get devoured like they were a 3 a.m. Waffle House meal. The game’s bigger, faster, stronger than they ever saw, and they wouldn’t be able to adjust quick enough to keep from getting obliterated.
Ah, but what if you grew Montanas and Czonkas in a lab? What if you trained them from birth to prepare for the NFL of the future? How would they do then? We’re wading into nature vs. nurture philosophy now, but I’m fairly certain that — all else being equal — someone like Montana 2.0 would be a leader in 2040 (gotta give him time to grow up, you know, clones don’t just appear full-grown) just like he was in the ‘80s.
If that worked, you could look forward to cloning of all your favorite stars. Tom Brady 2.0 would keep the Patriots winning forever. Le’Veon Bell 2.0 would take a job away from Le’Veon Bell Prime. And, of course, Eli 2.0 would throw interceptions, but they’d be Interceptions of the Future, so they’d be super cool.
That’ll do it for this week. We want your questions! Hit us up via email at email@example.com, on Twitter using the hashtag #AskYahooNFL, on Facebook here, or in the comments below. See you next week!
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.
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