I know, I know, I know. Raiders fan?

Yes, I unashamedly admit that I am, and as heartbreaking as it is to watch this season going down in flames faster than the Hindenburg, I have at least one ingredient of the Raiders experience to enjoy every time I head to Oakland no matter how pitiful the Raiders play. I have the tailgate party.

What is a tailgate party, you ask? Well, tailgating is the age-old tradition of driving into a parking lot of any sporting event long before the game begins and unloading a barbecue pit and a cooler full of booze. Essentially, you’re bringing the elements to throw a party out of the back of your vehicle to kill time in anticipation of a great game.

From there, you spend the next couple of hours chowing down on hot-links and shish-kababs while getting totally smashed in order to get yourself psyched up for the game.

So let’s say that you and some of your friends are planning to make a day trip to a Raiders, 49ers or Chargers game and your party has either A) never tailgaited or B) your feeble attempts to grill a couple of frozen Ballpark franks and the six-pack of Pabst Genuine Draft you brought left everyone quite disgruntled and unsatisfied, here are the necessary preparation you’ll need to make in order to provide one hell of a tailgate party.

Preparations are to begin the Saturday afternoon before the game, and you must pack excessively. Bring as many barbecue pits (at least two – one for finger foods and the other for the main course), fold-out tables and chairs as you can find, also bring a canopy, an authentic rollout mat, flags, fireworks, a stereo, a football, a dartboard, a television – you get the picture. Just pack a lot of stuff.

Now that you have all the necessary tools to get started, you want to start packing the cooler with meat, snacks, and as much booze as one can conceivably consume in a couple of hours.

Snacks should include tortilla or potato chips, salsa, guacamole, cheese, crackers, Triscuits, vegetables, ranch dip, bean dip, artichoke dip and maybe some candy so you can have some sweet to balance the salt.

Grilled items should include nothing less than some hot links (like some brats or linguica), steaks, burgers, even a little fish will do. Oh, and no tailgater is ever, ever truly prepared without staple condiments such as hot mustard and barbecue sauce.

As for the booze, cheap beer and Vons-brand liquor will do if you’re strapped for cash. It doesn’t matter. Just bring lots of it. Quantity over quality is the key.

After you’re done with the pre-game preparations, good luck stuffing all that crap into the back of your vehicle – I forgot to mention earlier, but if you are planning to pack a tailgate party into a sedan you’re SOL. So good luck bending the laws of physics cramming all of that stuff into your trunk, but make sure to do it quickly so that you can get to bed soon, because come Sunday, you’re getting up early – real early.

More often than not, the game will start at 1 p.m., which means that you need to get up and out on the highway by 5:30 a.m. It’s going to be a long four-hour drive to the Bay Area or six hours to San Diego.

But don’t you dare eat anything, because you’ve got a cooler packed to the brim with goodies just itching to be gutted, so save it for the tailgate party.

By the good graces of fair weather and clear highways, you should make it to McAfee Coliseum or Monster Park by 9:30 a.m. or Qualcomm Stadium by 11:30 a.m., and low and behold, you’ll be amazed to see a parking lot already more than half full.

When finding a parking space, make sure to pull in so that the rear of your vehicle is facing the drive-in lane. This will give you sufficient space to unload all the goods.

So, live it up and be jovial for the next couple of hours.

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