Smack dab in the middle of our New Hampshire vacation, Al and I made the trek back home to join fellow Pats fans at the first ever game in Gillette Stadium. The boys were still housed at Bryant with the hopes of the closing of camp to be announced soon. After spending the last week soaking up the sun on the lake, I was feeling the withdrawals of my daily training camp visits.... so I was ready for some football!
We spent a mellow tailgate drinking Coronas, viewing my vast collection of Patriots pics, relaxing, and feasting on Linguini and Clams made fresh onsite.
Zip's guests included his brother Rick and nephew Chris, Wolfie (Chris), Bob, Melissa and her husband, Bill. Monty made a rare preseason appearance, brought about by the lure of the newly named Gillette. Miguel also joined the group and introduced us all to his bride, Nancy.
The weather was hot and the beers were cold but Al and I were anxious to check out the new digs, thus departed early and headed into the stadium..... but not before I assisted Zip in raising the new flag, however!
We got there just in time to catch Tedy stretching out.... and pointed skyward in answer to his query of "where are your seats?" Let me tell you..... I run on a regular basis, however, I was winded by the time I made the trek to the top.... The old guy next to me accused his son of trying to give him a heart attack to cash in on the will! hehehe.... (I literally can't see the numbers on the players jerseys without binoculars, but I'm still happy to not be one of the 50,000 on the waiting list for tix...)
Although just a preseason game, a Pats win meant victory handshakes for the Backers at the banner and judging by Tedy's expression, he was happy to keep the tradition alive! Since the next preseason meeting against the Panthers would occur on the eve of our return from NH, we opted to give the tickets to neighbors as thanks for watching the homefront in our absence.... So, the next trek to Foxboro would be for MNF Inaugural game against the Steelers!! Are you ready for some football??!
On Monday, September 9th, the much anticipated and hyped up rematch between the World Champion New England Patriots and the Pittsburg Steelers, had finally arrived!! With it came the Official opening of Gillette Stadium and some new folks to our tailgate as well. (Welcome to list member Darren, Robin and Lou (from CT.) and Lisa and Dana (Monty's row-mates in Foxboro Stadium for years.)
The afternoon was hazy, hot, and humid (HHH.... just the way I like it!!), which meant minimal clothing and lots of cold Coronas..... just ask Jose, Karen and Laureen who each had a fair amount of skin showing that evening. Not to worry, though, my Bruschi Jersey was on hand for game time and some serious displays of fandom!
Bama made the trek from Huntsville, thanks to Monty who invited him as his guest. Miguel was on hand, as were regulars Laureen and Larry, Jose, and Wolfie. Craig from the CFPD and his friend also joined Al and I for the opening day extravaganza.
Linguini and clams were called for, as well as pre and post game Bruschi Brews... although Monty's was already a-beggin for my chili! "It's too hot, Monty!! Cold weather and multilayers will be here before we know it... let's savor these last few weeks of heat!"
There was plenty of eating, talking, and even singing to ring in the new season:
The opening game festivities promised to be spectacular, so Al and I headed in early. We missed Tedy doing warm-ups and discovered that we were not allowed to use the stairs behind the club as we did during the preseason, so we hit the ramps to begin our trek to the top. YIKES!!! What a glute workout....and cardio session all in one! As it turned out, it took us awhile to make it to our seats. That's ok... I was confident that a Victory Handshake would be forthcoming, anyway!
We arrived in time to see the Championship Season highlights on film on the Jumbotron, catch Kraft's speech, and watch the unfurling of the Championship Banner, A fireworks display ensued and a couple of Jets flew overhead, taking me by surprise and making be duck since it felt like we were at the same altitude! The only disappointment was the highly anticipated lighting of the Lighthouse, which proved to be a big dud!
As the game got underway, the place was electric. It was loud and we stood for most of the night. The Pats came out ready to play and ready to prove to the nation that last season was definitely NOT a Fluke! We beat the Steelers handily....so much so that Tedy's ire was up at their running meaningless plays in the final minutes , risking injuries to players.
Check out the body language!
Unlike Tedy, we were all in fine spirits post-game, and returned to the tailgate to continue the celebration in earnest. Steak tips, marinated chicken, Champagne, and Bruschi Brew left us satiated, as did a World Championship caliber win!
A rainy, fall Sunday meant the long awaited first batch of chili of the season... too bad Monty was out of town and missed the game and his food of choice! A mellow, early morning tailgate found Zip, Bino, Al and I (and the infamous OZ...) relaxing and conversing under the shelter of the tent before the crowd descended enmass. Donning rain gear, I was quite comfortable and dry. Of course, I was also wise enough to avoid the borders of the shelter and the periodic waterfalls that kept things interesting (and soggy) for all.
Regulars Laureen, Larry, and Darren as well as other list-folk Phil and Bill and guests, insured that our tailgate livened up (and that the chili pot was emptied!) Of course, it wouldn't be our tailgate without Jello Shots now would it?? The inclusion of two Packers fans also made for some good natured conversation and wagers.
Somehow, Al and I got separated from Zip during the trek into the stadium, thus missed out on a pregame "Bruschi Encounter"..... this one being of the MRS. Bruschi kind, as Heidi spotted Zip and said hello. The Pats loss meant no post-game Bruschi Encounter either and found Zip doing his penance. Poor OZ... getting dragged into Dad's bet yet again! At least my steak tips were good... and helped to to take the edge off the post game pouts.
The Broncos tailgate brought with it a beautiful fall day, an (a-hem) partied out Zip, Bruschi Brew (of course), and beef, beef, and more beef! Zip's guests included Wolfie, Joel, and Susan who joined the host of regulars (Laureen, Larry, Monty, Darren, and of course Al and I.)
Monty, Al, and Darren enjoyed stogies and we all "enjoyed" Laureen's inventive Jello-shot recipe!! Laureen and Larry decorated our tailgate environs with their Halloween costumes .... the 6 New England states complete with famous "landmarks" notated.
Here is a rather interesting shot of Wolfie.... and its counterpart!
Did capture some great shots of "My Man" during pre-game warm-ups which I viewed as good mojo for the game ahead,,,, but alas, I was disappointed both by a Pats loss and lack of Victory handshake.
Our intimate group of die-hards did hang around the site seeking comfort of Zip's propane heater and friendship until the lot was almost clear... Thank goodness for the good Samaritan with the generator who was the ONLY other vehicle left.... AND for his jump which insured that the Cardozas would not be spending the night in Foxboro with a dead battery!
Although the first half was clearly in control of the Pats, and the second half saw the Vikings come alive, the team hung on and brought us our 6th win of the season. Our group of tailgaters braved the wind and chilly temperatures and fared quite well....although the same cannot be said for Zip's tent which fell victim to the gusts while we were in the stadium.
Regulars and list-folk Monty, Laureen and Larry, Darren, (with guests) and Miguel joined in the fun as did Zip's friends Jim and Nicole. Dana and Lisa also huddled in the confines of the tent. See Zip's account of the day and his explanation of some rather wild behavior surrounding wagers won and lost with Nicole.
I provided the chili and tips... welcome staples on a cold day. (There was quite the selection of tips present this week and I must admit, that Jim's butcher-shop-seasoned-version were delicious.... although the providers of the home-made variety (Monty and Karen) called foul!) There weren't too many Brews consumed as coffee hit the spot both in the AM and post-game.
Victory ceegars were confidently smoked before the game as well as after. Quite a few bizarre outfits and accessories were adorned but I'll let Zip explain that one.... I offered to take on the Jello Shot Prep wager but alas.... Zip and Oz took their rightful place on the Big Screen so I'm off the hook!
All in all, it was a wonderful "Welcome Home" with a Pats victory, a big game for Tedy, personalized victory handshakes at the banner, and the sharing of many laughs and good cheer!
"Bledsoe Bowl II" brought out seasoned tailgaters and new comers alike. We had quite the showing both pre-game and post-game this week. Big Al and I arrived bright and early with the van fully loaded.... not only with tailgate supplies and food galore.... but with the most handsome Little Man at the site .... Jacob was able to join in the fun thanks to a last minute cancellation by one of Bill's buddies.
Zip and Bill arrived early as ever, as did Monty and Dave, thoroughly securing a spot in our usual location. Dana and Lisa started the morning off with bacon a-sizzlin on their awesome grill/griddle unit. Hot coffee, winter boots and gloves, and many layers topped off with the new throwback jersey, (thanks to my "Twin" the Zipster,) insured that I was toasty and ready for some football.
I had been eagerly awaiting this week's game because it meant hooking up once again with one of my all time favorite internet peeps.... none other than my girl, BledsoeAngie, who arrived with friend Annie, bearing a delicious Portuguese rice called JAG. (Al was in heaven and did quite a job attacking the panella.) Although we IM daily, it's not the same as sharing a Pats event in the flesh.
I guess you could call this a Listnik mini-reunion as Darren, Phil, Miguel, Monty, Bill, Laureen, Steve (all the way from FL), Zip, and I hooked up at the tailgate and shared Pats talk, food, laughs and... don't forget those Jello shots! My usual pot of chili was on hand as was Zip's guest's plethora of food choices. Monty outdid himself this week with his offering of swordfish, marinated and grilled to perfection! (See, Monty, this week it was my turn to try something new!) Dana's feta burgers also rocked!!
With no shortage of beverage choices, Monty and I engaged in our usual sharing of this week's samples... Unibroue, Chocolate Stout, Winter Welcome and of course... Bruschi Brew 7! (Ok Monty, I admit it.... I've been corrupted...... I... Am... A... Beer.... Snob!) And no tailgate would be complete without the stogie-buddies.
Robin and hubby arrived later in the AM after making the trek from CT. (Yes, they almost died when Al told them of our 20 minute "commute" to Foxboro each week.) Her Buffalo wings did the trick... although were too much for Jake!
It only took 6 home games, but Dad finally found our tailgate and took the walk over with Shale from his spot in Lot 11. I was blessed with lots of hugs this week as I was surrounded by many of my favorite men....(you know who you are!)
Game time brought a "seat upgrade" for Jacob and me as Bill graciously traded spots and took my nosebleeds with Al so that my little guy would be closer to the field. (Thanks again Bill... It was very thoughtful of you!) Poor Drew had a rough game and although we had three TDs called back by penalties and came out flat in the third quarter, we still came up victorious beating the Bills 27-17. Missed seeing #54 out there... I hope he's on the mend and will be back on he field ASAP!
Jessica joined us post-game and the 3rd timers signed Zip's tent. Many sampled Monty's steak tips and Kielbasa, Darren's Buffalo Turkey, and Robin's Buffalo Wings. Of course, more of my Chili was consumed as well. The long commute claimed some, the cold claimed others, and the whipping wind dumping the TV into the grill and spraying embers into the group signaled that it was time for all to head for home.... (Thankfully, we all escaped injury and will be back in two weeks to do it all again!)
Disclaimer: I met so many good folks this week and didn't catch all the names so here's a blanket apology. If I left you out or just plain botched it up... Sorry!
After witnessing a crushing defeat (in person) in Tennessee, we were geared up for a blow-out... Patriots' style! Our hopes were dashed however, as our boys failed to deliver and lost to the Jets 30-17, much to the chagrin of part of our tailgate crew. Our group of diehards hosted not only visiting Pats Fans but Soothsayer and his JetsInsider comrades. Although rooting for different sides, our pre and post game tailgates were all about sharing good food, beverages a-plenty, and good-natured conversation.
The day was quite chilly and although we arrived at 3:30, Zip, Monty and a group from Virginia, Murphy's Patriots, had already secured our usual spot. Of course, I came armed with the usual vat of chili, marinated steak tips, jello shots, and this week's addition of clam chowder. Zip was taken aback when he tasted it, expecting the "white" version not the "red" which I delivered. Seems he'd never had Manhattan Chowder before, but as I explained, we were here to feast on the Jets after all, so I was off the hook!
Our tailgate environs boasted regulars, Monty, Zip, Lisa (with her husband, the "other" Dana, ), Laureen and Larry, Robin and Lew (bearing Beef Stew), and us. Web was Zip's guest this week... a year to the day that he accompanied him to receive his Patriots Fan of the Year Award!
We were also joined this week by Pats Fans from near and far. Patsfans.com posters 78Pats, ArmenDaPatsFan, Garbanza, and Soothsayer joined in the festivities. Also joining in were a Rochester Group and folks from GoPats.com. Jose was up from Texas on business so joined in too... It's always nice when he's in town and you can be sure, he's up for my cooking!
Zip passed out Bruschi Brew 7's to many of our guests, and Monty and I, in usual form, sampled each other's microbrew of the day. Food was a-plenty and I feasted Full Tilt Full Time this week... A Carnivore's Heaven for sure!! Lisa presented some delectable bacon wrapped scallops to complement the usual assortment of beef, pork, and poultry!
Dad made his way back to our Tailgate this week, bringing along Debbie, a former co-worker of Al's who was thrilled to see him after many years. She enjoyed looking at our Tennessee pictures but loved seeing her Beto even more! Dad scored a Bruschi Brew from Zip... who didn't catch the whole story of why Dad hadn't gotten one from me yet.... (Remember those labeled bottles of Stout that we were supposed to swap for unlabeled ones...?!)
Cigars were abundant and much sharing took place on that front as well... and although Big Al enticed me to pose with one... I can ASSURE you, I did NOT smoke it!! Jello shots also were on tap, however seemed a bit weak... at least compared to Laureen's inventive recipe.
It was nice to meet so many folks in person and finally be able to put names with faces. It was also great to see that the impressions that one may make based on a post, may not always be accurate. To be sure, everyone at the tailgate enjoyed the company of others and had a stellar time. Naturally, wagers were made, and a football throwing contest just HAD to be part of the mix, but it was all in good fun... and provided entertainment for all.
Zip was sporting a pretty nifty tee, which was "decorated" with sentiments of those in attendance.... (Of course the Bruschi Jersey was there as well...... there ARE after all, certain codes of conduct which Bruschi Backers would never break!!) True to form, Web produced a tailgate song.... about crushing those Jets, set to the tune of Santa Claus is Coming to Town. We drew quite the crowd and although our singing was less than stellar, it was enough to entice our neighbor "Social" to the tent.... delivering his signature toast...."...... to you and yours during this most joyeous and festive occasion....!
Getting close to game time, Web did the paint honors and even got Zip to reciprocate.... Not bad work either!! We bundled on many layers, Oz promised Dad not to leave a present along the way, and we headed into the stadium ready to fulfill our end of the bargain as the 12th player out there. Scream we did, (to no avail) and stand we did... however, not specifically because of the game. I swear, EVERYONE in section 314 uses our row as a route to get to the aisle. People climb over the seats and exit right past us.... If I didn't get up 50 times during the game, I didn't get up once!! Thus, we have decided to attempt standing in the lower concourse for Miami, where at least we can see the game.
Tedy was on the sidelines again ... I can't wait to see him back in action soon! I'm keeping my fingers crossed for Miami! The game proved to be a stark contrast from the blowout that we faithful predicted, and poor Zip had to do his penance again this week. A sad, sad, sight...... and a bit of deja-vu. I really, really wanted to see Sooth in a Bruschi Jersey this year!!
Post game, we feasted yet again, lamented about the loss, bid farewell to those that were making their departure, and hung around enjoying each others' company. A thermos of hot coffee spiked with Anisette kept me toasty, as did Monty's grill, cranked up as usual. I shared some quiet time with my good buddy, Zip, and reflected on the day.
As I write this at 2:30 on Christmas morn, I am so very grateful for the joys that my Pats Fandom has brought to me... not only as a source of entertainment, but most specifically for the terrific people that have entered my life as a result. Thank you all, for you have given me gifts far greater than those that can be found beneath a tree....
The following websites were represented by folks in attendance today:
and of course:
Preparations for the last regular season tailgate began in earnest on Saturday. Al worked a double so I set out early in search of much needed supplies to insure that our tailgate lived up to standard. Rt. 1 was mobbed and it killed me to head that way but alas.... we were in need of propane! After two trips to the market, I spent Saturday night making chili, marinating chicken and steak tips and packing up the van. (Thank God my stomach bug was gone by then... the smells coming from my kitchen would have done me in!)
The morning was cold and clear and Al arrived home with brother officer Jeff, (a Miami fan...YIKES!) and his brother Ken. Dad and Shale arrived promptly and after loading the coolers, warm clothes, and ourselves into the van we were off! Surely a Zip/Jeff wager would be in the works! Dana and Lisa secured our usual spot and after Zip and I exchanged our requisite hugs, Al had bacon and eggs sizzling in no time.
Zip and Oz sharing some lovin..
Our tailgate boasted regulars of Monty, Dana, Lisa, Laureen, Larry, Robin and Lew, and list folk Miguel, Darren, and Bill. Gracing the tailgate were a couple of Junior Pats fans too! We were also introduced to the source of Monty's new found bliss..... Welcome Christiana!
In stellar tailgate fashion, the food and beverage choices were abundant as usual..... Monty provided Mahi Mahi, Jeff came with a pot of shredded beef, Jacob feasted on his favorite, Lamb Chops, and of course staples of Mrs. B's chili, marinated chicken, and steak tips were on hand. (I conceded to Monty this week.... as he reigned as King of the Steak Tips!) And... OMG.... how could I forget Lew's Baked Stuffed Shrimp! As they were passing it around and "Shrimp?" could be heard around the tailgate, I thought they were constantly calling me! LOL
There were plenty of Bruschi Brews on hand, provided by the Cardoza contingent as well as Zip and his guest Dave "Charts" Chartier. Monty and I sampled microbrews aplenty and Zip created quite the concoction by chasing a Unibrou with a Russian Imperial Bruschi Brew. Jacob even came armed with his IBC Root Beer!! Shale fit right in.... a brew lover and Acid Cigar lover too. Robin provided the Jello shots this week.... not only the typical Vodka version, but Tequila as well!
We all ate and drank to our hearts' content but were anxious to get down to the task at hand! Charts did the paint honors, we bundled up, made our way through the snow and we were off!
By game time, Al and I were psyched and ready to see some serious action. We decided to go forward on our plan to stand in the lower concourse for the game and never even made the trek to the top. It proved to be a wise choice as we situated ourselves in the perfect spot and enjoyed dry feet as well as a better view than we could have gotten from our seats! We yelled and cheered and came through as the 12th man in stellar fashion....
As the game wore on and the Pats were down 24-13 with 5 minutes to go, many in the crowd began to lose hope. Al and I kept saying that it wasn't over yet. The true mojo shift occurred however,......... when what to my wondering eyes should appear, but an ever-faithful Zip, on the JumboTron bearing an "I STILL BELIEVE" sign!! I swear, at that very moment, the boys dug down deep and magic happened! Not only did we score 11 points to tie the game, but Adam came through again in overtime!! Pats beat Miami 27-24 and knocked them out of the playoffs! Celebrations ensued and the atmosphere was electric!!
Our jubilant crew returned to the parking lot in anticipation of Jeff's wager payback... and to root on the Green Bay Packers. We needed them to beat the Jets, securing a playoff berth for us..... We were confident and our spirits soared! Champagne flowed and Pats fans cheered! However, it was not meant to pass. The Jets pummeled the Packers and we were out. As we left the tailgate environs, hugs were shared by all... with the realization that our tailgate adventures had come to an abrupt end.... and it would be 9 months before our group would be together again.
I have shared these past few months with a wonderful group of people... some tailgate veterans and some newcomers. I want to thank each and every one of them for making my Sundays the best days of the week and I look forward to many, many more seasons of tailgates with with such stellar folks!