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September 09, 2019

2019 NFL press box food spread ratings

Eagles NFL
081619JagsChili Jimmy/for PhillyVoice

Throughout the season, we'll be posting press box food spread rankings for each of the Philadelphia Eagles' road games. This is probably of no interest to you if you're a sane human being, and, well, I don't care. I'm doing this anyway. 

If you're fake-appalled by a sportswriter playfully complaining about free food, shut up.

Please note that we'll have the most recent press box reviews at the top.

090418EaglesLogo

Eagles vs. Washington: Week 1

What'd they have? Pregame, because it was a 1:00 p.m. start, they had a mix of breakfast and lunch:

• Breakfast stuff: Bacon, mini sausage links, scrambled eggs, and potatoes.

• Lunch: Salad, fruit, hoagies, and chopped smoked beef brisket on tiny dinner rolls.

They also had a junk food table that included soft pretzels, popcorn, donuts, tiramisu squares, devil's food cake, and assorted Frito-Lay brand chips. 

090819EaglesSpread

At halftime, they always have their customary (and questionable) chicken fingers.

Post-game, they always have the worst pizza ever.

What'd I have? I had a sausage sandwich (like, literally just three mini sausage links on a dinner roll, a staple of the @JimmyKempski diet), smoked beef brisket on a dinner roll, a soft pretzel, and a piece of devil's food cake. That was all fine. I almost never have any of the awful post-game food. You know how some people say there's no such thing as bad pizza? Well, they've never had the Eagles' post-game press box pizza.

I've also had the chicken fingers at many an Eagles home game. They aren't good, and other reporters have said they have gotten sick from them in the past (I haven't experienced that, personally). But they're there, and I usually have a few of them, with regret.

Grade: To begin, the Eagles' press box used to be among the best in the NFL. They had an omelet bar, a carving station, and ice cream (including greats such as the Choco Taco, etc.). More recently, the Philly press box spread has become average, at best.

Anyway, let's review the pros and cons of the current spread:

Pros:

• The soft pretzels are legitimately excellent, and have been a staple of the Eagles' press box spread for years. In the old days, the soft pretzels could just be great, without having to carry the rest of the team. Nowadays, they're sort of like that aging star player who can still play, but no longer has quality talent around it/him/whatever, and they're being asked to do too much to make up for mediocrity surrounding them. Ultimately, because they've been around so long, you become bored by them. They're kind of like the Aaron Rodgers of the NFL's press box foods.

• The other junk food is good as well, which is fine, except if you eat too much of that crap pre-game, the sugar rush you experience as a result will be gone by halftime, and then you crash. Still, in the moment, they're tasty. The devil's food cake, for example, was very good.

• They keep the coffee on post-game, which, as we've noted in these reviews repeatedly, is crucial.

Cons

• No bottled water! That is, of course, part of the Eagles' "green" initiative. Of course, the Snapple that they serve is in plastic bottles, and they have all the lights on in the stadium for a sunny 1:00 p.m. game, but the environment!

090819EaglesLights

Instead, if you want water, you're filling it up at the water fountain like some kind of animal.

• While the junk food table is dazzling to the eye, the actual meal options typically just aren't very good (the brisket today was OK). All flash, no substance.

The Eagles care enough to provide some tasty food, but it's inconsistent. They certainly put out a much better spread than the Jaguars, Jets, Rams, and WASTEAMs of the world, but they are also pretty far from the elite spread they used to be. C+.

091218JetsLogo

Eagles vs. Jets: Week 4, preseason

What'd they have? Pregame, they had Chicken Francaise (does that get capitalized?), rolls, roasted potatoes, salad, steamed vegetables, fruit, and some pre-made sandwiches (turkey, Italian, vegetarian, and tuna).

At halftime, they had steak fries with chili and cheese, the second road game in a row in which chili and cheese were offered as complementary pieces to some kind of super-cheap food. Personally, I'm a cheese dipper, as I prefer to regulate exactly how much cheese I want with each bite, and can't understand why anyone would pour the cheese directly on top:

083019FriesAndCheese

Post-game, they had ruebens, Cubans, and grilled cheese on rolls. They smelled a little weird to me, so I passed. One reporter who spoke to PhillyVoice on the condition of anonymity tried the grilled cheese, and had this to say: 

"I had the grilled cheese as I walked out because I had successfully managed to avoid all the previous food and, hell, how can you F that up? It was halfway decent but a poor midnight snack choice."

Lol.

At least they didn't take the coffee away, which is especially important for this annual fourth preseason horror show, as most visiting reporters have to drive an hour and a half home, typically well past midnight.

What'd I have? I had some Chicken Francaise, a couple dinner rolls, and some salad. That was all fine. I also had the fries at halftime, which were fine as well. 

Oddly, despite sharing the same stadium, the Giants' food spread is way better than the Jets'. The Giants came in second in our food spread ratings a year ago, and even earned an A-. Personally, if I were a billionaire owner of an NFL franchise and I shared a stadium with another team, I'd be embarrassed if the other team had way better amenities, but whatever.

In fairness, I will note that in comparison to the Jaguars' spread a couple weeks ago, the Jets' spread was on par with the brunch buffet at the Wynn Las Vegas.

Grade: The stuff they had was perfectly edible, but was definitely of the "we're offering food because we feel like we have to, but don't expect any sort of real effort here" variety. I'll give the Jets a little bit of a break, seeing as it was the most meaningless of the already super-meaningless preseason games, and they passed the most important test, which is simply to continue serving coffee after the game is over. If this were the regular season, however, I would not be as kind. C-.

090418Jaguars

Eagles vs. Jaguars: Week 2, preseason

What'd they have? Pregame, they had burgers, salad, potato salad, corn on the cob, baked beans, and apple cobbler. It's nice to have Ross Tucker around calling Eagles games, because he always takes video of the press box food, which he did here.

At halftime, they had bad tortilla chips with even worse chili and cheese. Seriously, this is gross:

081519JagsCheese

And this is grosser: 

081619JagsChili

After the game, they had nothing, and they took the coffee away, a huge press box no-no, as that is when coffee is needed the most.

What'd I have? I didn't want to, but I tried the burger for journalistic purposes. It wasn't good. I even tried the chips and cheese. Awful. 

I'll also note two other things about the spread:

  1. I'm a big corn on the cob guy, but that is a bad choice for a work setting. To begin, they're messy to eat. You can't toggle back and forth between bites of the corn, and typing. But also, you can't be picking corn kernels out of your teeth in public. Corn on the cob is a food for your own home, a summer cookout, or, like Chili's or something.
  2. I'm not a baked beans guy, but even if I were, those bad boys in Ross' video above are swimming in liquid grossness.

Grade: Before we get to the food, let's first note that the Jaguars have the worst press box setup in the league, of the stadiums I have been to. From the press box, you have to walk down a flight of stairs to get to the food area, which is fine, except the line has nowhere to go except up the stairs. A visual:

081519JagsPressBox

Why is that problematic? Several reasons:

  1. Waiting in a line on stairs just sucks, so there's that. 
  2. More importantly, you can't get a sneak preview of the food they have. Personally, I like to scan the options in its entirety so I can plan out what I want. That's not an option with this setup, as you'll look like a jerk if you just bypass everyone on the steps. Even if you don't care about being that jerk, that's probably not even an option during high-volume times, like halftime for example, as there's a steady stream of people going up and down the stairs, which aren't very wide.
  3. If you take a panoramic pic of the setup, you get police officers looking at you like they want to taze you.

It's just the preseason, and mayyybe that's too early to give out overly harsh grades, but holy hell, Jaguars, have some pride. F.

Season, to date

 RankTeam Grade 
 1Eagles C+ 
 2Jets C-
 3Jaguars 

MORE: Handing out 10 awards from the Eagles-Jets preseason game | Final observations: Jets 6, Eagles 0 | Four players who impressed in Eagles' preseason finale vs. Jets


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