Reviewing "Tailgate to Heaven: A British NFL Fan Tackles America"

Reviewing "Tailgate to Heaven: A British NFL Fan Tackles America"
Adam's deep passion for the game is why this book works not as a gimmick, but as a definitive story of why the game itself works.

How big a fan of American football is Adam Goldstein? In 2008, it became the most important thing in the world.

***

Born and raised in London, England, Goldstein was one of the many young people impacted by the global spectacle that surrounded the 1985 Super Bowl Champion Chicago Bears. The Super Bowl Shuffle, Sweetness, The Fridge; those were the things that ultimately made him a Bears fan, but it was something else that made him an American football fan.

The culture of “Hooliganism” in the UK turned Goldstein off from soccer in his youth. He says in his book, “I did not want to be a part of [the] unhinged, barbaric culture.” And while some might call what goes on in NFL stadiums today barbaric, it is nothing like the bottle-tossing riots that once surrounded soccer in the UK, literally putting a fan’s life in danger.

In the same year that the Chicago Bears stampeded their way to a Super Bowl title, 39 soccer fans in Liverpool were killed in a stampede of their own. To Goldstein, the game of American football seemed so unlike what he was used to. For the most part, violence in the NFL took place on the field, not in the stands. At an impressionable five years-old, Goldstein chose the gridiron for that very reason.

It was probably a fine passion to have. Watching delayed NFL games late into the evening could get in the way of a decent sleep schedule, I suppose, but I’d be willing to bet dollars to doughnuts that Adam’s parents didn’t mind his quickly growing obsession too much.

But a sleep schedule is one thing …

So when Goldstein decided to quit his job, leave his girlfriend behind and blast through $70,000 dollars in a matter of 17 weeks in order to see 40 NFL games, showcasing each NFL team and each NFL stadium at least once, it’s no wonder both his parents called him crazy. What is a wonder is that the afore mentioned girlfriend actually stuck by his side.

***

I was first contacted by Adam in April of 2012. He had received my email address from Martin Macpherson at BEARDOWNUK. The previous season, I had done a feature on Martin’s own journey as a British Chicago Bears fan as he prepped to see his beloved team take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Wembly Stadium in the NFL’s International Series.

TailgateToHeaven_500Adam informed me he had a book coming out and wanted to know if I’d be open to reading and reviewing it. The book was to be titled “Tailgate to Heaven: A British NFL Fan Tackles America”. The premise was not only to see those 40 NFL games in person but to tailgate at each and every stadium in the League and connect with the diverse football fans all across America.

Reading the book was not a problem, I told him. Catch me at any time of the year and I will always be reading something. What I wanted to make clear to Goldstein was that any review I ultimately did would reflect my actual feelings about the book. In other words, if I thought it sucked, I was going to tell my readers that.

The truth is that if the book had sucked I would have been in no hurry to rip it. More likely I would have simply never gotten around to reviewing it at all. Jesus, I’m not a monster.

Like Goldstein, I grew up a Chicago Bears fan. But having spent the last four seasons covering and writing about the team has tarnished that fandom to a degree. I’m more a fan of the sport itself these days than I am of any specific team. I still want the Bears to be successful, and I’d delight in a hometown championship, but I find the prospect of covering the effects of coaching change this season somehow more appealing than what actually happens on game day, I think.

The reason I tell you that is because part of what drew me into Adam’s book was his wholesome, unadulterated, pure fandom. He absolutely loves the sport, right down to the gimmicky, American carnivalism that is an NFL football game. From shooting t-shirts in the stands, to cheerleaders and mascots, Goldstein soaks it all in.

His deep passion for the game is why this book works not as a gimmick, but as a definitive story of why the game itself works, and why it continues to grow so exponentially.

His story is engaging and humorous, causing the reader—at least this reader—to feel like they’re experiencing the journey right alongside a close friend—even if that friend is completely nuts. Even better, Adam lays it all on the line, inviting you to share in his successes and failures, from his being embarrassed to his being emboldened.

Read it and you’ll make a friend along the way. I promise.

Goldstein takes you through each game, one after the other, including two games inside historic Soldier Field, both of which saw the Bears into overtime victories, one of those being a victory over their rival Green Bay Packers.

Adam’s story works on so many levels and has the potential to appeal to every NFL fan. If you’re looking to take a trip around America, inside every NFL stadium and in front of every NFL fan base, Adam Goldstein can take you there. And it won’t even cost you $70,000.

Thanks for reaching out, Adam. And best of luck in all you do. You can purchase Goldstein’s book here. Follow him on Twitter here.

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