America's Five Best Football Towns
|The Grove, Ole Miss (Ken Lund/Flickr)|
The cool, crisp air of autumn ushers in ripening apples, blazing foliage, and an American obsession: football. All across the country football-mad universities celebrate game day with tailgate parties, family cookouts, and traditional and sometimes mystifying rituals. It’s not just a heartland phenomenon for diehard college fans; game day in America’s NFL cities has a way of bringing together a crazy quilt of humanity from all strata of life. In coming up with this list, we worked with two basic criteria: 1) Where is football the most, well, football-iest—where is the game built into the bricks, pumped into the water, and part of the air you breathe? 2) Which football towns are also equally intriguing destinations on their own, with plenty to offer the non-rabid football fan in the family? Here is what we came up with:
Green Bay, Wisconsin
This small city of 100,000 people has a big appetite for football, and rightly so: It’s been home to the Green Bay Packers professional football team for nearly a century. Established in 1919 and named for the local Acme Packing meatpacking company, this is one storied franchise, winner of 13 world championships and hallowed home to such football giants as coach Vince Lombardi and quarterback Brett Favre. If just being on the Packers’ home turf, Lambeau Field, doesn’t sate your Packers obsession, stroll over to the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame, 25,000 sq. ft. of trophies, statues, and assorted Packer-obilia. Of course, not everyone who visits Green Bay is a Cheesehead (aka, diehard Packers fan)—fortunately this bayside football town has plenty of other diversions, including the sprawling Green Bay Botanical Gardens and the National Railroad Museum.
It’s a match made in antebellum heaven: The stately white-columned campus of “Ole Miss” (the University of Mississippi) and the magnolia-scented town of Oxford. This football town embodies the flavors of the Deep South, from the colonnaded county courthouse to the oak-lined home of native son William Faulkner. Established in 1844, the campus of Ole Miss shares the town’s honey-dripping countenance—except on game day, when the Rebels take to the field at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. This town is so football obsessed that the number worn by former Rebels quarterback Archie Manning (#18) is now the official campus speed limit. Tent-hopping during tailgating parties in “the Grove” is legendary, where some 25,000 fans mingle in 10 acres of lush green beneath a canopy of oak and magnolia trees and fill up on classic Southern food and drink before the big game.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication