Each NFL team has its legendary players and coaches. Here in Atlanta, longtime fans remember the days of Tommy Nobis, Steve Bartkowski and William Andrews. A new breed of superstar has emerged with the current team as Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and Roddy White are making bids to become all-time greats.
Each team also has dedicated, and sometimes crazy, fans that have become legends over the years for tailgating and support of their team. Atlanta is no exception. Let’s take a look at some of the current tailgating legends in Atlanta and how they have earned their reputation.
Chris “Dipper” Holdib
After almost two decades of being a diehard Falcons fan and a decade of hardcore tailgating, Atlanta-native Chris Holdib has rightly earned his place among Atlanta’s tailgating legends.
Holdib says the fun begins well before game day. “It starts on Saturday evening,” explains Holdib, who is a quality assurance and safety manager for a company in Hampton, Georgia. “We don’t even go out on Saturday nights. We hit the grocery store and make sure everything is in order.”
The man known on the Falcons’ internet message boards as “Dipper” says that on Sundays, he’s up at 6 a.m. and meets his crew outside the entrance of the Yellow Lot at 7:30 a.m. sharp.
As far as the food goes, Holdib says each week holds a different theme. “It depends on who we are playing,” says Holdib. “When New Orleans comes to town, it’s a Cajun theme. When a New York team comes, we have a hot dog bar.”
The Dallas Cowboys were recently in town and Holdib says it was all about the BBQ. Holdib is a real pro and a couple times each season he takes his act on the road to away games. He’s hoping he will be able to host the ultimate tailgate in a few months for the Super Bowl.
If you want to “hang with Mr. Cooper” you will have to get up pretty early. This Atlanta sports fan is usually one of the first three people at the Yellow Lot gate waiting for it to open. On a recent Sunday, Cooper was in place by 7 a.m. and ready to stake out his area. Cooper is part of Holdib’s group, the ATL Fanaholics, and an important part at that. For four years, Copper has been making sure his group gets its three parking spaces, and then he’s preparing the beverage cart. What’s the drink of choice? Early in the year it’s beer, but as it gets colder, he makes a specialty called “anti freeze.” I bet that will get your engine going early in the morning.
It takes a real fan and a strong woman to keep up with the guys when it comes to tailgating. Tammy Else is the first woman to show up regularly outside the Yellow Lot at 7 a.m. Else is also responsible for setting up her group’s entire tailgate and preparing the dishes. A tailgating trailblazer, Else proves that a women’s place is at a tailgate.
Atlanta tailgater “Big Mike” was recently featured on HLN and CNN for his famous ribs, and that alone makes him a tailgating legend for the Falcons. Wearing his number 55 jersey, you can’t miss Mike working the grill. The secret to his ribs is well — a secret. But he does say you have to let them marinade ahead of time. Then while they are cooking, douse them with beer. Yummy!
Coach X aka Falcons Fan X
Nobody knows the identity of serial Falcons tailgater Coach X. Sampling different tailgates each week, this mystery tailgater’s legend continues to grow. He searches the fan forums during the week and then the parking lots on Sunday morning looking for the best in tailgate fare. He talks about it and then posts his results for the whole cyber world to see. He knows his food and he knows his football. The only problem is, nobody knows who this anonymous critic is.
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.