NFL’s Most Surprising Tailgates According To “Big Al”

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“Big Al” essentially has the best job in the country right now. 

The kid that looks like he got plucked from the nearest Ohio frat house gets paid to visit stadiums and tailgating across the country to find out for himself — and for his viewers — which cities really do host the best game days.

It’s the SportsManias Diehard Tour that will hopefully give us more insight on where to party each football season … and baseball season … and basketball, you get the point.

In light of the Super Bowl, Big Al gave us his “top 5 surprising tailgates.” 

#5 Miami Dolphins

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“The Miami Dolphins organization offers more fun fan activities than any other NFL team I visited on the DieHard Tour…

They had a makeshift Dolphins locker room for fans to walk around in, take pictures of, and individual football lockers for fans to actually sit in. They had multiple life-size player posters of the Dolphins best players for fans to compare their height, hand size, vertical jump, and wingspan to. And, they even had a mock practice field for people to test their agility, catching skills, and passing ability. The coolest part of the experience was a station where fans could run through a giant Dolphins helmet with smoke machines and an announcer introducing your name, just like if you were being announced as a player running onto the field. Yes I did do it, and yes it was awesome!”

#4 Cleveland Browns

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“Diehard Cleveland Browns fans take the name Dawg Pound very seriously. And very literally. As in, I literally had people barking at me as I walked through the Browns’ tailgate. But don’t worry, they were more like excited golden retriever barks than angry doberman barks. I wasn’t even scared, I SWEAR!…

Browns fans really impress with their ability to morph into mutts. Aside from the barking, Dawg Pound faithful get dressed head to toe in orange and brown and paint their faces to look as close to canine as humanly possible. They even go the extra mile by adding some accessories to their look—dog collars, dog ears, and even fake beards that look like dog fur. They don’t stop with their bodies, though. They go as far as customizing their vehicles, making the whole parking lot looks like “Pimp My Ride – Dog Edition”.  Browns fans show up in huge buses taller than the tallest great dane, vans fully covered in fur, and there was even a car with a tail attached (Lloyd and Harry would have been proud).”

Related: Super Bowl XLIX Drinking Game

#3 Detroit Lions

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“I was on my way to film the Detroit tailgate experience on one of those freezing cold mornings where the air feels like it’s cutting your skin. As I walked through the crowd of early morning tailgaters I noticed an unusual amount of fog a few parking spots down. As I got closer I realized it wasn’t fog at all, it was steam…coming out of a hot tub! The TUBGATERS! These diehard Lions fans wake up at 4am every Sunday to fill up their hot tub with steaming water, then attach it to the back of their RV, and finally they haul it to the tailgating lot to begin a day of soaking, chilling, and making every other tailgater in the lot extremely jealous…

To my great surprise and excitement, they invited me to jump in as I walked by with my camera. My immediate response was a resounding, “YES!” I was so cold I nearly jumped in with my jeans, which would have meant having to deal with the horrible consequence of going to the game in soaking wet pants. Out of nowhere, though, they pulled out a brand new swimsuit and threw it at me. Could these guys be more prepared for good times? I can tell you right now, the only thing better than a hot tub session is a hot tub session when it’s negative degrees outside!”

#2 Buffalo Bills

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“People always ask me where the wildest tailgate was. It’s tough to name just one city because every single team’s fans have some kind of uniquely wild tailgate experience. But Buffalo takes things to such a different level that you can’t even imagine the brain that could have come up with its most insane tradition. It’s called ‘The Ketchup Ceremony.’…

There was one spot I just had to visit at 11:30am, that’s what I was told by Buffalo tailgaters throughout the morning, and they refused to give me any more details than that. When I showed up at said spot, I found a crowd of about 100 people and a real sense of excitement and anticipation. Without much said, three people, who were obviously leading this “ceremony,” got on top of a white van with a megaphone and pulled out multiple plastic ketchup bottles. On the ground, two other men started shuffling through the crowd towards the white van. People were letting them through as if they were part of this “ceremony”. They each had a burger in hand, and when they got right up to the van, each stopped and yelled, “I NEED KETCHUP!” Like an echo in a giant stadium, the entire crowd began chanting back in unison, “KETCHUP! KETCHUP! KETCHUP!”

I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, but before I could digest the awesome ridiculousness of it all, the three people on top of the van began squirting their ketchup bottles at the two men with the burgers. Not just at the burgers, though, but at their entire bodies. Head to toe! Ketchup! And the men just stood there, smiling and loving it. After about 2 full minutes of being blasting with ketchup these guys were completely covered in red condiment, and out of nowhere music starts blasting. Everyone starts dancing together and singing ‘LET’S GO BUFFALO! LET’S GO BUFFALO!’ To this day, I’m still confused about it, but also weirdly satisfied.”

#1 Washington Redskins

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(Monday Night Football!)

“Even though it was a night game, I went through my usual routine, waking up at sunrise and heading to the stadium to start filming before the true tailgating begins. What I wasn’t expecting to find was fans outside FedEx Field at 6am! I met a group of fans that were so diehard they were roasting a full pig before breakfast. The game was starting at 8:30pm and they’d shown up 14 hours early, despite the fact that the stadium parking lot wouldn’t even open until five hours before kick-off. So, this all-star crew was lined up outside the parking lot entrance, roasting their pig, blasting music out of their pick-up truck, and hanging out in a giant, red tent. When 3pm hit and a lineup of cars began to build behind this ‘pig crew’, I could hear the hog-roasters whispering about an intricate plan that would have to be executed perfectly if they were to claim their ideal tailgating spot…

Members of the crew sprung into action, lifting their pig onto a table, while others ripped crispy pig skin off the hog and tore it into little pieces. The rest of the group disassembled the tent, packed up their truck, and broke down the barbecue like a team executing a well-crafted trick play. They would somehow need to get all this done before driving to their perfect parking spot. In a matter of minutes, the truck was fully packed and ready to go, and all that was left of the pig were its bones. You know when you order a pulled pork sandwich? Well these guys literally pulled every bit of pork off this pig and made me the freshest sandwich I’ve ever tasted! Oh, and the pig skin that they ripped into little pieces? Those were placed in a bowl and served as pork chips! Imagine eating freshly made, deliciously greasy, bacon chips!!!”

Big Al is the host of SportsManias Diehard Tour.

Josh Helmuth is the editor of CraveOnline Sports.