Once per season, I get the opportunity to attend a Philadelphia Eagles’ game and the accompanying tailgate with a relative who owns season tickets. Every April when the NFL season schedule is released I peruse the Eagles home slate for the most prime game. However, it doesn’t really matter which game I chose as the tailgate wags the dog. The game is a blur but I’m not sure if it’s because we are watching from so high above with limited replay or if it’s the red meat rush and brown liquor high. The point is that the tailgate is the point.
This season, I circled the Eagles home season opener against the hated rival New York Giants. The Eagles lost, but I learned a few other things other than confirming that Andy Reid is a poor game manager.

    1. Europeans don’t normally tailgate but like it – After chatting with one of the guys from the group that has been tailgate neighbors for years, I found out that he attended the college where my father worked. This was a place of fond memories as I had the run of the facilities and learned to drive in its parking lots. You say, what’s this have to do with Euros and real football tailgating? Well, nothing other than he also told me that he likes to entertain his Swiss and Spanish clients at the tailgate, and they conjure up business reasons to return to this slice of Americana. Despite that caveman somewhere in the Alps or the plain in Spain, surely Europeans love burned meat over fire in the great outdoors and futbol, they just missed the concept of combining them.
    2. How to make the drink Painkiller– It’s no secret that there is imbibing at most tailgates. And invariably, the group’s unofficial official bartender (UOB) will introduce a new drink to the mix similar to how Ferris Bueller said; “Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” Actually, it was Forrest Gump quoting momma, but I’d rather say Ferris to keep the party moving. So, this time our UOB introduced the Painkiller. Funny, how alcoholic beverages and race horses have such colorful and unique names. However, I’m not sure painkiller would be an acceptable name for a racehorse given that it’s against the rules to shoot up thoroughbreds with painkillers. In any event, the drink is a Caribbean concoction that the bartender’s bible calls for one serving to be made with
      • 2 oz dark rum
      • 1 oz cream of coconut
      • 4 oz pineapple juice
      • 1 oz orange juice

However, our UOB kept pouring more than the suggested amounts of dark rum and he added some light rum to boot. The fruity but still manly drink is a nice way to start off the day.

  1. Bring a variety of clothing options – This probably doesn’t apply if you are tailgating in San Diego where the weather by law can’t fluctuate more than four degrees per day. Elsewhere, follow the rule that it’s better to be prepared than not, as spending an entire day during the fall and early winter season outside can be hazardous to your health or at least distract you from the merriment of the moment. Arriving around 10:00 AM for a 1:00 PM kickoff, I was initially overdressed expecting the worse from a late September overcast morning. But of course the sun arrived shortly thereafter and I did not layer appropriately to ditch my overly thick Belichick hoodie (with uncut sleeves). Quickly, I was sweating like a cold beer in the cooler. Worse, despite the earlier threatening skies, I did not bring a rain absorbing jacket. So, I worried about that for a bit. So, the bottom line is that there is no excuse to not stash in your car a functioning wardrobe from cargo shorts (no daisy dukes) to a parka for any environmental element.
  2. Never ask for a cheap cigar – This is good to know for two reasons. One, you might get some tarred tobacco leaf product and regret smoking it the next morning as you wake gagging like you slept with a sock in your mouth. The other and more important reason – if you are concerned with the feelings of others as much as your own—is that you may offend whom you ask. Everyone is in a jovial mood at a tailgate and sharing food and drinks is part of the social contract we entered as humans at such gatherings. However, cigar smokers really do love to share their wares. Despite that the price of a pack of Kool or Marlboro cigarettes costs you the same as one average cigar, cigar smokers will often offer one for your indulgence. But DO NOT in the guise of downplaying your request plea for a “cheap” cigar. This treats your request as if you are bumming a cigarette. It offends the cigar smoker as you seem to be insulating the contents of his travel humidor. However, after a few ruffled feathers are stroked just say thanks and puff away together.
  3. Laugh in the face of doom – My almost four- year-old son is addicted to watching this DVD where one of the characters thinks he has his foe right where he wants until realizing his enemy is not only unfazed, but seemingly embracing the moment. Thus, he unbelievably utters; “You laugh in the face of your doom?” It’s quite funny when spoken by a medieval forest man-like creature. But the same applies to having fun at a tailgate even when your team loses. The banter upon reconvening at the tailgate location after the Eagles lose was full of curses and cries. Then somebody tried to look on the bright side by highlighting Lesean “Shady” McCoy rushing for 100 yards in the first half alone. But when asked how many yards Shady ended up with, the initial optimist and all in earshot who recognized Andy Reid’s shortcomings therapeutically laughed at the absurdity of his response- 102.

Martin Sumners is an NBA columnist for IamaGM.com. Find out more about Martin at sumsoul.com and follow him on Twitter @sumsoul.

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