Glorious, gluttonous tailgating tour

Courtesy of Sarah Spain

The NFL is back, and with it the most gluttonous, glorious of sports traditions: tailgating.

Say farewell to fancy-pants brunches. Beginning this Sunday, you dine with both friends and strangers, trading in mimosas for Miller Lites and waffles for chicken wings. Leave the reservations and the waiting lists behind; the best seat in the house at Chez Stadium is a folding chair next to an open fire and a stocked cooler.

The days may get colder and the clothes thicker, but a true fan knows that saying goodbye to summer ain't so bad because fall means football.

Of course, there are those who believe that the NFL is no longer a spectator sport, rather just another TV show to be recorded, paused and maybe even (gasp!) fast-forwarded through. Those people -- and there are more and more of them each year -- would rather stay home on Sundays, tinkering with fantasy lineups, watching the RedZone channel and taking advantage of no bathroom lines.

Those people are what's wrong with America, and my new series, "No Spain, No Game," will prove that.

This isn't about passing yards, QB ratings, tackles, sacks or anything else that goes down on the football field. "No Spain, No Game" is about what happens before the game begins, about the contest we have with ourselves to be bigger, louder, crazier and more fanatical than any other fans in any other place.

It's about showing you what an NFL game day looks, smells, tastes and feels like in nine different cities.

You might not be at Arrowhead Stadium with me, but the scent of grilling meat will tickle your nose right through your computer and you'll be booking your flight to Kansas City faster than you can say "molasses-glazed baby back ribs."

Green Bay may not sound like a vacation spot to you now, but once you get a look at the scene outside Lambeau, you might turn that car due north and experience for yourself the magic of "yardgating" at the houses up and down Stadium Drive.

Sure, it may be easier -- and cheaper -- to watch your favorite team at home, but even the comfiest of couches can't compete with a good, old-fashioned tailgate. You don't have to take my word for it, though; you'll be able to see for yourself with every edition of "No Spain, No Game."

This season, I'll hit the road to bring you the biggest and best tailgates and traditions from nine unique NFL cities in the country. And what better place to start than my "home court," the centrally located, historically celebrated, carnivorously dedicated ... Sweet Home Chicago.

Check out my schedule below, and if you've got a lead on the best tailgating people and places in any of these cities, pass them on to

• 9/8 -- Soldier Field, Chicago
• 9/22 -- Heinz Field, Pittsburgh
• 9/29 -- Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City
• 10/20 -- Lambeau Field, Green Bay
• 10/27 -- Sports Authority Field at Mile High, Denver
• 11/10 -- Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans
• 12/2 -- CenturyLink Field, Seattle
• 12/15 -- Coliseum, Oakland
• 12/29 -- Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego

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