Friday, December 21, 2007

Cleveland Browns Stadium - Buffalo at Cleveland

The Blizzard Bowl of 2007 is a game that can only truly be appreciated by experiencing it first hand. I returned to Stadium #3, Cleveland Browns Stadium, to take part in what will surely be an instant classic, from the perspective of the weather we had to endure. Before the season began, it was decided that the Buffalo Bills vs. Cleveland Browns game would be our selection for the “Mann-cation” Buffalo Bills Road Trip of 2007. So the fellas from Buffalo met up with my fraternity brother Arnold and I at Cleveland Browns Stadium for a contest with playoff implications for both teams involved. A massive snow storm from the south was predicted to hit Cleveland right at gametime, ensuring that swirling winds and falling snow would create one of the most incredible atmosphere’s that I’ve ever been a part of. When we could actually see the field below, the players trudged through four inches of snow working against 43 mph winds in an defensive slug-fest. The Browns prevailed 8-0, as the Bills proved unworthy of the playoff expectations thrust upon them. Although a loss, the atmosphere provided by the storm made it a game I will never forget.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Ralph Wilson Stadium - Dolphins at Bills

There’s nothing like attending a Buffalo Bills game at Ralph Wilson Stadium in December. When the snow falls and the temperature drops below freezing, Bills fans are in their glory. So to celebrate the spirit of the fan, for “Squish the Fish” week, my Dad scored tickets to the Buffalo Bills vs. Miami Dolphins football game on December 9, 2007. We started with a tailgating feast to rival any other, as we arrived in the parking lot at Ralph Wilson Stadium at 8:30am. Egg McSteiniger sandwiches were cooked up for breakfast accompanied my a fine micro-brew, but the main course was our slow roasted rotisserie turkey, that we prepared right in the parking lot. After 3 hours of slow roasting over hot coals, we accented our guest of honor with yams, cranberry sauce, and gravy, for an incredible pregame meal. The Bills even cooperated by posting a win, dropping the hapless Dolphins to 0-13.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Stadium #17 - The RCA Dome, Indianapolis Colts

Indianapolis Colts StadiumThe RCA Dome in Indianapolis was to be stadium #17 on my Quest for 31. I was thrilled by the prospect of being on hand to witness the other juggernaut offense that’s been leaving NFL teams in their wake this year. So having seen Tom Brady and Company at Gillette Stadium earlier in the year, the opportunity to watch Peyton Manning and the defending champion Indianapolis Colts dissect another opponent, was too intriguing to pass up. For this adventure, my fraternity brother Clevon would accompany me on the 5 ½ hour drive to Indianapolis from Detroit. The Indianapolis Colts were set to lock horns with the Jacksonville Jaguars with the AFC South Division crown at stake and we were set for an afternoon of heavy tailgating, beer drinking, and football. The Jacksonville Jaguars attempted to use their power running combination of Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew to slow the Indianapolis Colts offensive machine, but Peyton Manning, Reggie Wayne, and Joseph Addai proved too much for the Jags to handle. Indy finished off Jacksonville with a 28 – 25 win ensuring their hold on the division crown for at least another week.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Stadium #16 - Jacksonville Municipal Stadium, Jacksonville Jaguars

An overcast, but warm Florida afternoon proved to be the perfect backdrop for my visit to stadium #16, Jacksonville Municipal Stadium in Jacksonville, FL. Crystal, Annabella, and I drove over from Tampa early on Sunday morning to rally our visiting Buffalo Bills to victory in a hostile environment. It’s a victory we’re still waiting for, as unfortunately the Jacksonville Jaguars dominated the JP Losman-led Bills providing a perfect segue once again to usher in the Trent Edwards Era. As for the pregame celebration, I had arranged for an impressive shrimp boil with some local Jaguars fans before and after the game. Hanging with the fans and stuffing myself full of shrimp was definitely the highlight of our weekend!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Stadium #15 - Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City Chiefs

Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, MO was to become Stadium #15 on the Quest for 31. It was a fairly long 12 hour road trip to Kansas City from Detroit, so we selected the Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs game on Veterans Day Weekend, to allow ourselves the extra day to drive home. I had always heard about how loud Arrowhead Stadium was on Sundays and I distinctly remember how difficult it was for the Kelly-era Buffalo Bills to beat those Chiefs teams of the early nineties on Monday Night Football. So I knew going in that I would be among some real die hard football fans. Crystal and I had a great time tailgating before and after the game and interacting with the local fans, as we made the stadium parking lot tour. The game itself was a fairly completive division rivalry between the first place Kansas City Chiefs and the Denver Broncos, but Denver pulled away from the Chiefs in the third quarter and never looked back posting a 27 – 11 win over the hometown team. Not even my Tomahawk Chop chant was enough to inspire a thrilling forth quarter comeback.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Ralph Wilson Stadium - Cincinnati at Buffalo

Ralph Wilson Stadium is like a home away from home for all Buffalo Bills fans, and especially during our annual Bills Football Weekend Retreat. The Steiniger men select a Buffalo Bills home game each year, and we all gather in Buffalo to rent an RV and camp out in the stadium parking lot in preparation for the game on Sunday. The weekend becomes a food and beer fest, as we bring out all the stops to make certain that no one in our crew goes hungry. This year we selected the Cincinnati Bengals vs. Buffalo Bills game on November 4 and we cooked up a fantastic feast. Our tailgating crew was able to partake of a seafood boil, slow-cooked roast beast on weck, and grill-seared tuna steaks. The Buffalo Bills rewarded our efforts with a win over a Cincinnati Bengals team that seems to be reeling in mediocrity. Marshawn Lynch had a career day as the Buffalo Bills defeated the Bengals 33 – 21.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Stadium #14 - Qwest Field, Seattle Seahawks

On my way to Fairbanks, Alaska I arranged for an extended layover in Seattle as there happened to be a home game at the mighty Qwest Field. So after I landed in Seattle, it was straight to the rental counter and on my way to watch the Seattle Seahawks take on the St. Louis Rams. Qwest Field is every bit as impressive as advertised. A modern facility with a fantastic view of the Seattle Skyline and all the food (in variety and quantity) that any fan could ask for. Qwest Field stadium concessions are easily the best in the league. In addition to the standard dogs, brats, and burgers, fans can find Thai and Chinese food, bread bowls of clam chowder or chili, deep-fried fish and chip dinners, and the local favorite, garlic fries (guaranteed to keep loved ones at bay). Fans of the Seattle Seahawks rank among the loudest in the league and Qwest Field’s specifically designed acoustics aide in directing crowd noise as well. By the end of the day, with a plane to catch, I found my experience in Seattle at Qwest Field to be brief but enlightening.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Stadium #13 - Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego Chargers

Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, CA became my 13th stadium on the Quest for 31 on October 14, 2007. The San Diego Chargers were hosting the Oakland Raiders for a huge interstate grudge match and I was on hand with Jason and Marty to watch it unfold. Fans began tailgating before the game at 7:30am PST, as pickup trucks bearing San Diego Charger and Oakland Raider badging clogged the streets around the stadium. The umbrella tents and barbecue grills were out in no time for a great parking lot tailgating experience … we went to IHOP. Raider Nation showed up in full force in support of their team, but Charger fans held their ground. It was interesting to see that although Charger fans did outnumber the Raiders fans in the stadium, that there was still an extremely strong contingent of fans dressed in silver and black … Raider Nation indeed. The day ended in a 28 – 14 win for the Chargers as LaDanian Tomlinson ran for all four of the San Diego Charger touchdowns.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Stadium #12 - Edward Jones Dome, St. Louis Rams

The Quest for 31 resumes with Stadium #12, the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, MO. Known for the Gateway Arch, a thriving local blues community, and toasted ravioli, St Louis also proved to be an awesome football town. The St. Louis Rams are one of my favorite pro football organizations, so seeing the Greatest Show on Turf in person was indeed a thrill. Unfortunately, for this trip, the Greatest show was riddled with injuries. Notable outs were Marc Bulger, Issac Bruce, and Steven Jackson. With an injury report that read like a Pro Bowl roster, the Rams had to turn to their backups, so it was Gus Ferrotte and Brian Leonard that heeded the curtain call against the recently surging Arizona Cardinals, who were fresh off their thrilling victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Cardinals proved too much for the hometown Rams to handle as they posted a thrilling 34 – 31 victory in a shootout in the dome.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Stadium #9 - Georgia Dome, Atlanta Falcons

Stadium #9 was to be the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia. Myself and Jeremy as part of a three city, eleven day stadium tour, would round out our third game with the hometown Atlanta Falcons taking on the visiting Dallas Cowboys. The incomparable Mike Vick was in his prime and scandal free as he led the NFL’s most prolific ground attack against a surging Tony Romo led Dallas Cowboys offense. It was December 2006 and the weather was fantastic. The Falcons would lose the game, but not without some exceptional offensive maneuvering by the human highlight reel himself, Michael Vick.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Stadium #8 - Heinz Field, Pittsburgh Steelers

Pittsburgh, PA and Heinz Field were to be the site of my eighth stadium visit on the Quest for 31. It was a bitter cold December eve as we left Detroit right after work on a Thursday, bound for Pittsburgh, PA. We arrived in Pittsburgh just in time for kickoff but ended up stick in gametime traffic. It appeared that everyone decided to wait until the last minute to Heinz Field. When we finally arrived, we got a parking spot, high-tailed it over to the stadium, and proceeded to purchase one of Myron Cope’s Official Pittsburgh Steelers Terrible Towels. With the Terrible Towel in one hand and fantastic Primanti Bros sandwich in the other, I was ready to cheer on the Pittsburgh Steelers to a 27 -7 win over the Cleveland Browns.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Stadium #11 - Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia Eagles

Getting into Stadium #11, Lincoln Financial Field proved to be a bit more challenging than my trip to Foxboro. I arrived in Philadelphia about thirty minutes before gametime. I was able to locate seats for the game through one of the local roadside ticket vendors - rather pricey, but convenient. The parking lots were already full and it appeared that Philadelphia Eagles fans were just parking on the streets that surround the stadium. Fearing Police action, but answering the call of necessity that loomed with the pending kickoff, I parked on the street and hoped for the best. As it turns out, my vehicle was left unticketed, but the Philadelphia Eagles were not as lucky. Under the guide of one Donovan McNabb, the Philadelphia Eagles lost 12 to 20 to the surprisingly surging Washington Redskins. McNabb did not look too impressive as he consistently misfired to open receivers and the offense struggled most of the night. Eagles fans were less than enthused but I had a fantastic time cheering on the Eagles even in a losing effort.

Stadium #10 - Gillette Stadium, New England Patriots

On the east coast for a couple of days, I found out that there would be a Sunday night home game in Foxboro, MA and a Monday night home game in Philadelphia, PA. Intrigued by the prospect of a Revolutionary War era double header, I thought I had to make it to both games ... even though I showed up at each stadium without tickets for either contest. When I arrived at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, I found the party to already be in full swing as loyal Patriots fans had been tailgating since 11AM that morning in preparation for a Sunday evening 8:15pm kickoff. I was impressed by the array of full sized tents, full sized barbecue grills, and full sized flat screen TV's that were erected all over the parking lot. I ended up with tickets in Row 2 of section 130 as I met up with three of New England's finest - Clint, Tawd , and Cah-mine. These three fine gentlemen affably welcomed me to Gillette Stadium by providing one of the best seats in the house from which to watch the game. I had a front row seat to watch Tom Brady and the newly retooled Patriot offense carve up the hapless defensive front of the not-so super San Diego Chargers. One the heels of the Bill Belichick video camera scandal, the Patriots must have been out to send a message to the league because they embarrassed the Chargers 38-14 in a rout.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

ESPN's Who's Now - What a Joke!

ESPN’s “Who’s Now” feature has got to be the most ridiculous thing to come out of that network in recent memory ... and they’re are milking it for everything it’s worth, squeezing a full week’s programming out of the most asinine of debates. I can’t believe this actually passes for sports programming right now. They actually have a panel of ESPN anchors, celebrities, and sports “has beens” discussing the merits of what actually constitutes “nowness” for a bracketed plethora of current sports icons. Can they possibly evaluate an athlete on a characteristic that is more vague? It’s ludicrous! Who Cares! Do I really have an interest in what Keyshawn Johnson thinks makes Michael Phelps qualify for Mr. Popular in the category of Nowness? This is like having a contest to find out which color of paint dries fastest … and these guys are serious! I can’t wait for football season to begin so it can usher in a renewed dedication to relevant sports programming. The program director that came up with this brain-fart needs to have his head examined.

UFO Festival in Roswell

The 2007 UFO Festival in Roswell, New Mexico was an excellent way to spend my vacation this summer. The city of Roswell was everything I expected it would be. Shops with alien themed merchandise lined Main Street, the local McDonald’s was shaped like a giant flying saucer, and even the street lights had little alien eyes painted on each one. We kicked off our first day with breakfast at the Cover-Up CafĂ©, a weather balloon tracking, 1940’s military themed, restaurant that was built in a converted Denny’s. The seats and walls were olive drab and the wait staff dressed in fatigues as guests watched giant flat screen monitors tracking imaginary weather balloons. The food was fair, the service was poor, but the atmosphere was interesting. As a fan of the Roswell television series, I expected a Crash Down Cafe and UFO Museum to round out my Roswell tour. A Crash Down Cafe, the Cover-Up is not, but there is indeed a UFO Museum on Main street. It ws not as elaborate as the one on the TV show, but it had its technical merits. World renowned UF-ologists, B-list celebrities, a costume contest, and a parade rounded out the week of convention activities. We spent the rest of our time indulging in conspiracy theories and Mojito’s that we carried around town in alien shaped bottles from Wal-Mart. Definitely a must on the list of any SciFi enthusiast.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Roadtrip to Roswell - 2007 UFO Festival

I've always wanted to go to Roswell, NM. When I found out that they hold a UFO festival in the city of Roswell every year, I had to make the trip. A road trip would also be a great way to get some additional stadium visits in and the "Road Trip to Roswell" was born. My girlfriend Crystal was onboard for the week and half long journey and on June 29 at 11:00pm we were off. The plan was to visit NFL football stadiums in St. Louis, Phoenix, Houston, Dallas, and Kansas City as a sidebar to main event ... the UFO Festival commemorating the 60th anniversary of the UFO crash of 1947. But we were going to do it right! We arranged to have coordinated costumes, to sticker my Ford Explorer with "Alien Hunter" badging, and to take part in one of the finest gatherings of extra terrestrial minds in the continental US.
We started by driving through Indiana and Missouri ... stopped at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis and took the mandatory pictures at the arch. From there it was Oklahoma City and a quick stop through the National Monument commemorating the victims of the bombing in 1995. A long drive through the night got us to the Four Corners monument the next morning. The Four Corners monument is located where the states of Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico come together at a single point. We then drove to the Grand Canyon to see one of the natural wonders of the world.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Stadium 7 - Lambeau Field - Green Bay, WI

This was the crowning achievement of my Quest, my trip to the "Frozen Tundra", Title Town, Lambeau Field. Of all the stadiums in the league, this is the one I most wanted to attend a game in. Packer fans are most like Bills fans. They're warm, blue-collar, cold-weather fans who actually own their team. Easily the envy of any small market team. I thought that of all the stadiums in the league, Lambeau would be the most difficult to get a ticket for. That was until Day to the Day, Day, Day ... all Day, informed me that his cousin, Tory Humphrey was a player for the Green Bay Packers and could get us tickets ... player tickets, that would place us in row two of section 116, right behind the player bench. That was an amazing experience ... donning the foam rubber cheesehead and cheering on the venerable Brett Favre as he took on the New England Patriots in a rematch of their 1997 Super Bowl win, we had a blast. Check out my experience at Lambeau Field at, http://www.nflfootballstadiums.com/LambeauField.htm.

Stadium 6 - Paul Brown Stadium - Cincinnati, OH

It was Monday night football at TJ's spot and myself, Day Day, and TJ got together to watch the game. I had spied a pair of tickets on E-bay that weren't getting many bids earlier in the evening. They were tickets for the Cincinnati Bengals game that Sunday, so when I got over to TJ's I bid on the tickets and won. Our Frat brother JC lives in Cincinnati and I hadn't seen him in a while so I thought it was a opportune time to pay him a visit. JC is a walking party ... all day, all night, all JC. That dude is a trip. I was looking to have a good time and the city of Cincinnati delivered. The Bengals game on Sunday was awesome! Paul Brown Stadium was filled with orange and black the the fans were in a frenzy as their hometeam Bengals took on the SanDiego "Super" Chargers. I'd purchased a Carsen Palmer jersey the night before and for some reason had the theme song to "WKRP" in my head. "WHO DEY!!!" Check out my experience at Paul Brown Stadium at http://www.nflfootballstadiums.com/PaulBrown.htm.

Stadium 5 - Bank of America Stadium - Charlotte, NC

I have been visiting my friend Jermain in Charlotte, NC for years. Each spring I 'd take about a week and play golf down there, usually stopping at the Pro Football Hall of Fame on the way down. During all of those visits, Bank of America Stadium loomed in the background mocking me as it beckoned for me to see a game. This fairly new facility, built in 1996, was Stadium #5 in my Quest. Last Spring, when I was in Charlotte, we noticed the Dallas Cowboys were coming to town to face the Carolina Panthers on Halloween weekend. Jermain is a huge Cowboys fan and has never seen them live. I thought it was my duty as his best friend to make sure he got there. I bought a ticket on priceline,com to fly into Charlotte for the weekend well before we got game tickets because I was on my way to Germany. Tickets to see the Cowboys were harder to come by than we expected. In the end, E-bay was our salvation as we scored seats in section 543 the week of the game. The Cowboys were victorious as Tony Romo debuted on national TV. Check out my experience at http://www.nflfootballstadiums.com/BankofAmerica.htm.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Stadium 4 - Ford Field - Detroit, MI

Ford Field in Detroit, MI is a state of the art indoor facility in the heart of downtown Detroit. Constructed in the Old Hudson's Warehouse area of the city, the Ford family has built an awesome domed structure with plenty of ambient light, fantastic concessions, and a practice facility all in one conglomerate structure. Adams St. and Beaubien St. were the original border streets of the Hudson's Warehouse. They are now enclosed within Ford Field to serve as concourses, housing concessions and souvenirs. Detroit is where I currently reside, and Ford Field does not disappoint as an NFL venue ... Stadium #4. For my first trip to Ford Field, I was accompanied by the fellas from Buffalo who braved driving bans throughout the city to watch our hometown Bills take on the Lions. The Bills lost, but your can check out my experience in Ford Field at, http://www.nflfootballstadiums.com/FordField.htm.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Stadium 3 - Cleveland Browns Stadium - Cleveland,OH

Cleveland Browns Stadium was Stadium #3 on my quest. My frat brother Arnold and I attended the Detroit Lions vs. Cleveland Browns game on October 23, 2005. As a resident of Cleveland, Arnold had the hook up on some great seats in the lower bowl. The game, which was a matchup of two horrible teams, was not the most exciting of contests, but the atmosphere of Cleveland Browns stadium was well worth the trip. You can see pictures of my experience at http://www.nflfootballstadiums.com/ClevelandBrowns.htm

Friday, January 12, 2007

Stadium 2 - Raymond James Stadium - Tampa Bay, FL

Raymond James Stadium is easily my favorite stadium. The weather is always fantastic, the faciliy is top notch, and having family in the area always makes a trip down there better. The pirate ship at Raymond James Stadium in probably the most attractive fan feature in the NFL. Looking from the stands, it almost looks as though the ship is sailing through an ocean of fans. The best thing about the stadium is how the pirate theme is carried throughout the facility ... there are pirates walking around the stadium, all the concessions stands are pirate themed, and the fans a phenomenal.

I visited Raymond James Stadium on December 10, 2006 and watched as the hapless Bucs were crushed by the incomparable Mike Vick and the visiting Atlanta Falcons, a summary of my experience can be found at http://www.nflfootballstadiums.com/RaymondJames.htm.

The day was still fantastic. We tailgated in the parking area, grilliing up some local stone crab claws and acorn squash along with some chili dogs (Hormel makes a great canned turkey chili that is 99% fat free). The stone crab claws prived to be a bit more challenging to open that I expected. Instead of cracking them open with a nutcracker ... I ended up swing that nut cracker in an attempt the smash the claws open.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Stadium 1 - Ralph Wilson Stadium - Buffalo, NY

Ralph Wilson Stadium, "The Ralph", my home stadium and stadium #1 on my quest. I grew up watching the Buffalo Bills play ... watching the cannon arm of "machine gun" Kelly, the shiftyness of "the Thurmanator", the game speed of Andre Reed. I reveled in the success of the Super Bowl Years .... Project: Pasadena, Mission: Minneapolis, Assignment: Atlanta and in the abysmal state that the franchse is in now. But through it all I remain a Bills fan.

I watched the Buffalo Bills take on the Jacksonville Jaguars on November 26, 2006 and I watched my Bills overachieved to defeat what many considered a better Jacksonville team. On my website, I summarized my experience on my website. The weather for a game in November was fantastic. Blame global warming, but a mild winter in Buffalo ain't so bad.

Why the Quest for 31?

Why not???? I am a huge fan of the National Football League. I have a room in my apartment, dubbed the "Football Room". It's filled with football memorabilia, jerseys, a large screen projection TV, and a set of goalposts (to kick the extra point of course). It is the premiere venue within which to view professional football contests. I've been playing fantasy football since 1995, back before the internet made it into the premiere workplace distraction that it has become today. I'm a big fan of the Buffalo Bills ... I think it all started in 1988. The Buffalo Bills were beginning to turn around an abysmal record of football ineptitude. Marquis names and legends were being created. Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas, Andre Reed, Bruce Smith, Darryl Talley, Shane Conlan, Cornelius Bennett, Kent Hull ... the names of my youth.

So why the Quest? I am fascinated by the thirty-two teams in the NFL and what it means to be a fan of each. Visiting each home stadium in which they play, meeting local fans, wearing foreign colors, eating local delicacies, tailgating in each area ... that's what football is all about. If you're interested in monitoring my journey feel free to check out my site at www.nflfootballstadiums.com.