There are 32 teams in the NFL and each team’s fans have their own rules, traditions and shall we say, commandments for tailgating in their home parking lots. While some of the newer teams to the NFL like Jacksonville and Carolina are trying to grow their followings, the old guard of the NFL like Green Bay, Chicago and Pittsburgh have devoted tailgaters at each and every game.
The tailgate community for Atlanta Falcons games at the Georgia Dome is maturing. From the days at Fulton County Stadium to the current setup at the Georgia Dome, fans of the Falcons have watched, listened and learned from visiting fans and transplants from other NFL cities.
Here are 10 tailgating commandments for Atlanta Falcons games.
1. Thou shalt arrive at least three hours ahead of time. This will get you a good spot in the lot of your choosing and allow you plenty of time to get organized and plan your menu. The traffic gets bad around the Georgia Dome, so get their early and have some fun.
2. Thou shalt not have any teams before the Falcons. You may be a transplant from a foreign NFL city, but you are tailgating at a Falcons home game. Give the Falcons the respect they deserve and at least act like you’re rooting for the Dirty Birds.
3. Thou shalt not forget the beer or cooler. I don’t think anyone wants to be the one who forgets the beer or cooler at home. It would make for the shortest tailgate in history.
4. Thou shalt not take Arthur Blank’s name in vain. Word to the wise, there are to be no bad words spoken about Falcons owner Arthur Blank during the tailgate, the game and the ride home. This man has made it his personal mission to make this team competitive year in and year out.
5. Thou shalt not covet they neighbor’s ice. Ice is the one tailgate item that you can never have enough of, especially in a city like Atlanta where it remains hot until the middle of November. When you think you have enough ice, buy two more bags. You are going to need it and there is a good chance your tailgate neighbor won’t have enough to share.
6. Thou shalt not be the obnoxious drunk. There always seems to be one at each tailgate. We call him “that guy.” Hopefully they aren’t a member of your circle of friends. This obnoxious jerk will somehow wander his way over from a neighboring spot and try to crash your party. Know when to say when.
7. Thou shalt play yard games. You’ve arrived three hours early and you won’t be eating for another couple hours, what’s one to do? Break out the yard games. Cornhole has been the game of choice for tailgaters over the last few years. Don’t forget the old football to toss around or the mini basketball hoop for a game of H.O.R.S.E.
8. Thou shalt plan ahead. You can’t plan and organize a wedding in one day. While a tailgate is a much smaller event, you definitely can’t plan it the morning of. Put some thought into your food and beverage choices. You may event want to select a theme. Have some fun with it.
9. Thou shalt remember that there are kids around. There may not be any kids at your tailgate, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any at the gathering next to you or the one over from that. Watch your language and the subject matter of your conversations.
10. Thou shalt obey the instructions of Atlanta police and Georgia Dome security. Without fail, a week doesn’t go by when you don’t see an idiot getting into an argument with an Atlanta police officer, a parking attendant or a member of the Georgia Dome security team. This is a big mistake and as long as you abide by the rules, you will have no problems.
Check out Tailgate Fan to keep the party going at tailgatefan.cbslocal.com.
Rick Limpert is a freelance writer/photographer in Atlanta and he loves covering anything Falcons-related. His work can be found at Examiner.com.