Oakland fans are all very excited for the 2010 football season to be here! The draft merely wet our whistles and teased us with anticipation for the fall to arrive sooner than later. Preseason is here, and the excitement continues to soar as we are able to sneak a peak at the possibility of new stars shining in the NFL.
However, not much compares to the real season, the one that counts, where stats, performances, wins and losses are all recorded on a permanent record.
It's nothing short of spectacular to watch every game of the season from the comfort of your own home, but there is no feeling in the world of football greater than attending a live game. You experience everything from the roar of the crowd to seeing your favorite players live in action. It's amazing!
However, if you REALLY want to embrace the total experience of being at a game, my personal advice is to attend a tailgate, and not just any tailgate, but an Oakland Raiders fan tailgate. Think of it as a personal pep rally, only more intense, and a lot more fun.
You can experience many things like great food and drinks, awesome music, bonding with fellow fans, and getting pumped up and ready to cheer for your team favorites. You may even be lucky enough to witness one of your past heroes joining in the fun and signing autographs for his fans!
Yes! Let's start with one of my favorite things about tailgating: The food!
If you have ever attended a game and walked through the parking lot, you have caught a waft of that wonderful smell from people barbecuing on the grill. Mmmmmm! I can taste it now.
What are some fan favorites, you ask? Bratwurst, or other sausages, hot dogs, barbecued chicken, steak, hamburgers and sandwiches are often the main staple.
Grilled vegetables (corn on the cob grilled in its husk is often done), baked potatoes, sweet potatoes, and cold salads (like coleslaw, macaroni, potato, bean salads) and an array of potato chips usually make up the side dishes.
Cookies, pastries, cakes, and brownies top things off nicely as a dessert. Sometimes, you can see a work of art atop the desserts of those die hard fans in the form of our team logo or one of our famous slogans like, "Just win, Baby!"
Large coolers display ice-cold beers, wine coolers (or other bottled drinks of choice), sports drinks, bottled water and a variety of colas for quenching your thirst as you pregame party.
My only advice for this part of the tailgate is to burn off all those calories jumping up and down and cheering every chance you get once the game starts!
My next favorite thing about tailgating is the music! You don't have to have your own band, like these outstanding Raider fans do. Just pop your favorite CD in your car radio and crank it up!
The most popular type of music played at a Raiders tailgate is rock, however, I have attended, painfully, a few tailgates where country music is played.
Sometimes, the fans will ban together and tune into one radio station having everyone turn it up allowing a fairly decent radius of sound to permeate the area.
You may often see a local radio station sponsoring music at the stadium for a few hours before the game as well. They are usually giving out free gifts, like jerseys, cash, and coupons for free stuff inside the stadium as well. If they are present, it's definitely worth the hike to walk over and check them out.
My advice for the music section of tailgating: Don't bring Elton John or Beethoven if you don't want to be stuffed in a trunk somewhere and miss all the fun.
Enjoy fellow comrades like never before when you attend a Raiders tailgate. There is an instant family-like bond that forms between fans as they spend a few hours sharing stories, laughing, eating, dancing, and partying before a game. Nothing says, "We love our Raiders!" more than having the largest group of fans tailgating on the black top.
I have formed some lifelong friendships with several people in my Raider Nation by attending tailgates to support our team.
I remember a particular tailgate, that happened to be one of my favorites, in which we all signed each others' jerseys. I still have my white, number 80 jersey signed by a really amazing group of people.
Don't be surprised if you bond with people who are die hard fans of your enemy team. It happens. I attended a game where a large Raider tailgate was next to a large Charger tailgate. Neither fan base was budging on a move to another area.
It was ... interesting, and I have to admit, I was on my toes ready for whatever may throw down. All in all, the fans from both teams were great, and it ended up being one big party.
Once the game starts, you will part ways with the people you met, but the fun you had in your own, personal pregame will hang with you through the game and for years to come.
My advice for the people section of this slide show is to bring an address book, or small notebook, and a pen to have a way to stay in contact with those you wish.
Some of us techy geeks just add our new friends right to our phones.
This also helps when you want to organize your next tailgate!
Just look at all that passion and emotion of those Raider Fans! I can guarantee you the experience of a tailgate enhances the excitement 10 fold, and you will be addicted!
There is just something about those pregame, parking lot parties that get you ready to cheer on your team, help make our fans louder than the opponents, and let our boys know we are loud, proud, and in their corner (or end-zone)!
Notice the helmet in this picture? I couldn't help but laugh wholeheartedly believing that fan may very well have hosted a large tailgate before the game.
Far be it for me, a Raider fan, to tell you to keep your cool out there. We aren't exactly known for our polite dispositions. However, you don't want to be told to leave or have security detain you to the point you miss the game!
Here are a few pointers to make sure after all that hard work you put in to your pregame festivities, you actually get to release all that excitement where it belongs ... in the stadium.
Don't think you can just show up at a stadium and do whatever you want. There are rules to follow.
Cities know that the reason several of fans attend live games is because they can tailgate. Don't be someone who takes advantage of this and breaks the rules possibly ruining the experience for everyone else in your party by being told to leave. I have seen it happen.
Each stadium will have their own set of rules, so it's best to contact them (or the city) and get a list of laws pertaining to the stadium parking lot in regards to tailgating.
Some stadiums have family-friendly tailgate areas where alcohol is not permitted. That means you can't offer a beer from your cooler to the 12 year old son of that Chiefs fan who has been eyeballing you since you arrived.
Some stadiums have restrictions for certain grills, combustibles, or fire pits. No blow torching the Bronco bus, guys.
There is usually a "no throwing objects" rule in all stadiums, so make sure that playing catch is permitted in your stadium before you bring along that football to toss around with your pals. Yes, so the knife throwing contests at passing Charger fans is prohibited.
Noise ordinances may apply. You would think that a stadium would be built in areas where noise shouldn't be an issue, and in fact, that is the case. However, certain areas of parking lots may actually be included in a city's noise ordinance. Check with your stadium before you crank the heavy metal! I do believe, however, that yelling, "Donkies suck!" is perfectly within the limits of the law.
Glass containers are always banned for common sense reasoning. This one is too easy. Raider fans can make up their own satire for this one.
Tailgating is confined to your individual parking space per vehicle. Sorry, no spreading your stuff out to take up three parking spots on each side of your Raider mobile.
Pets are not allowed at any stadium I have been to, so leave Tooz at home with his massive dog bone to guard your house instead.
As fun as it might be to light off an M-80 under the chair of a sleeping dolt fan, explosives are not permitted either. This means the smaller fireworks, as well.
My advice here: Contact the city for the laws of that particular stadium.
It's great to be invited to tailgates! If that is the route you take, make sure you bring enough food, drinks, and supplies to take care of yourself and those traveling in your party.
If you want to take it a step further and organize your own tailgate, here are a few steps to help make it successful.
1. Invite ALL of your football pals to attend. Even if they don't have tickets to the game.
2. Bring enough food and drinks for you and those traveling with you, and then some. That's right. Bring a lot. You WILL have fans wander up and want to be part of the best tailgate in the parking lot. Some of them will want to stick around. Show them that the Nation rocks!
3. Supplies needed: Coolers, chairs, shade canopy, cooking utensils, paper plates, plastic cups and silverware, ice, drinks, food, grilling supplies, music, radio (for fans who can't make it in and want to listen to the game), first aid kit, bug spray, and other items you may want for yourself.
4. Arrive early! Don't forget to check with the stadium to see how long before the game starts when guests can start arriving. It's best to have everyone be able to park next to each other as opposed to having folks carry their stuff to you. If parking next to each other isn't an option, make sure you are able to contact those in your party to let them know where you set up so they are able to rendezvous with you.
5. Have fun! That's what it's all about. Let the experience enhance your game day excitement.