December 06, 2020
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, nerd. Please note that we'll have the most recent press box reviews at the top.
Eagles at Packers, Week 13
Before Sunday, I had attended 121 straight Eagles games, in person. Because of recent spikes in COVID, I did not travel to Green Bay for the Eagles-Packers game. Goodbye Eagles game attendance streak.
Of course, being unable to attend a game in-person also means no press box food spread grade for the Packers, but it wasn't without effort! I sent the following email to the appropriate Packers personnel:
Unsurprisingly, that request went ignored, lol.
Anyway, I guess all I can do is give the Packers a DNP.
Eagles at Browns, Week 11
The Browns didn't serve coffee. 🤯
Like, the bare minimum thing that one can expect at literally any social function is the presence of coffee. Hell, if you go to somebody's house, more often than not, if they're not a socially inept monster, they'll say, "Would you like some coffee or water or something?"
To make sure that I'm not just some high-falutin snob, I polled my Twitter followers on whether or not they would be able to offer coffee to a guest in their home, regardless of whether or not they themselves actually drank coffee. As of this writing, there are around 2,000 votes, and 90 percent of the responders replied "yes."
Poll: Do you have a coffee machine in your house? Like, whether or not you even drink coffee, if someone in your house really wanted coffee, would you have the ability to give them coffee?— Jimmy Kempski (@JimmyKempski) November 24, 2020
The Cleveland Browns, who won't be confused for one of the best franchises in sports, but are an organization valued at $2.35 billion nevertheless, DIDN'T OFFER COFFEE, despite hosting a hundred or so people working for 10 or more hours, many of whom were outside for extended periods of time in sub-40 degree, rainy weather.
I mean, again... 🤯.
And they even had a huge coffee machine there! They just... didn't serve coffee. As I stared longingly at the coffee machine in the food room, a kind press box worker named Gina informed me that they did have hot water, and she thought there was some instant coffee laying around in the back somewhere.
I told her, "I'll take it!" So Gina found some Folgers and a Styrofoam cup, and brought it out. I took a plastic spoon, dug out some coffee grinds, and at least had something. Other reporters and press box workers noticed, and Gina suddenly had people lining up for a spoonful of instant coffee grossness, lol.
As for the food that they served, I mean, who cares? THEY DIDN'T HAVE COFFEE. But in case you're wondering, they had pre-prepared bags filled with fruit, macaroni salad, chips, Grandma's chocolate chip cookies, and your choice of a turkey sandwich, ham and herb sandwich, or teriyaki chicken salad.
I got the turkey (shown above). It wasn't good, and I wondered if I made the wrong choice, not opting instead for the teriyaki chicken salad. I was comforted to overhear a Browns reporter refer to the salad as "wilted lettuce with some chicken on top."
Post-game, I wasn't even sure initially what they were serving. Whatever they were, curiously, they only had like four packages of them. I poked my head into the back room and asked, and was told that they were eggrolls that they were trying to get rid of.
Lol. So to recap:
Eagles at Giants, Week 10
The Giants made the responsible choice to move their food spread setup to an outside concourse, presumably to lower the chances of the spread of COVID. So, kudos for that! But also, it was a crisp 55 degree day, and I enjoyed getting a little fresh air when I went out to get my snackies.
Here's a pic of the setup. Note former Eagles beat reporter / current Giants beat reporter (traitor!) Zack Rosenblatt at the far right. He turned to look because I was yelling "HEY ROSENBLATT!" Note the other guy (under the End Zone sign) looking at me, like "Ay! Whattsa matta wit dis clown? Can't I get some orange juice witout all the yellin'?"
Sorry, friend. Anyway, the Giants had the following, pre-game:
Pass, pass, and pass. At halftime, they had chicken tenders and fries in a plastic container, as well as some Mrs. Field's cookies. The cookies were fine. The chicken tenders and fries looked good, but tasted like chicken tenders and fries that had been sitting in a plastic container for a few hours.
Apparently, they ran out of these chicken tender containers, and guys/gals who write halftime stories were left tenderless. A frustrated Martin Frank of the Delaware News Journal said, "They ran out of food. Put that in your report, Jimmy."
That reminded me of an infamous clip of Tommy Lasorda yelling to a reporter, "Put that in your f****** paper, T.J.! Every f****** word I said! Put it in the m*****f****** paper! I don't give a f***!" Obviously, if you click that link, it is NSFW. (And to be clear, Martin wasn't quite that heated, lol.)
In summary, they had bad food, but a responsible setup, and they left the coffee available (though cold) after the game for the reporters making the drive back to Philly. In a year where there's a very low bar for an acceptable spread, I'll give them a C.
Eagles at Steelers, Week 5
On my drive from South Jersey to Pittsburgh the morning of the game, I purposely ate light (I packed one granola bar for the road), to ensure that I would be nice and hungry for the game. It was roughly a five-hour drive, and I even resisted the urge to grab a snack at the rest stop during my mid-way pee break.
That was dumb. Upon my arrival, I found that the Steelers had turkey and provolone, and... um, more turkey and provolone. So if you don't like turkey and provolone, you were just shit out of luck.
And even if you do like turkey and provolone like I do, it was really more like turkey-flavored bread, given the lack of meat within.
But not only that, the food boxes had an uneven amount of added treats inside. For example, my food box had two packages of Grandma's chocolate chip cookies (a sub-par cookie, by the way), while Mike Kaye of NJ.com didn't get any. Ace Rothstein would not approve.
I gave Mike one of my packages of cookies, because that's the kind of caring soul that I am.
Anyway, back to the turkey. If you'll recall, the 49ers had turkey and provolone sandwiches on a roll last week (which they called "turkey clubs," but really weren't). In other words, in the span of 8 days, I ate two legitimately bad turkey and provolone sandwiches in press boxes of teams with a combined 11 Super Bowl trophies. Yes, life is hard.
Unlike the Niners, at least the Steelers had something different at halftime (crappy hot dogs), and after the game (personal pizzas -- they were OK). However, they had one fatal flaw. They turned the coffee machines off after the game. 😱
BOOOOOOOOO!!! That is a no-no just generally speaking, but it is especially egregious for a game that is drivable for the opposing press corps. A dark, rainy drive on the horrific two-lane, endlessly winding PA Turnpike loaded with 18-wheelers becomes even more unenjoyable without coffee. C-.
Also, to note, as we stated at the start of the season, we reserved the right to change grades as we went along, to account for the quality of COVID-affected food spreads. After attending three road games, it is clear that the Eagles' food spread is way out ahead of the pack, so we're bumping them up to a B+.
Eagles at 49ers, Week 4
I walked to Levi's Stadium from my hotel with high hopes, as a relatively new stadium usually means a quality food spread. Upon arrival, about three and a half hours before kickoff, I arrived to find popcorn, water, and ooooh, ice cream. That's promising. More specifically, they had Nestle Dibs, and Häagen-Dazs ice cream bars. If you're unfamiliar with Dibs, they're little bite-sized pieces of ice cream coated in Nestle's Crunch. They sound better than they actually are. I should have gone with the Häagen-Dazs bar. Bad job by me. I'll be better next time.
They also had trail mix, cotton candy, and popcorn. Pass, pass, and pass. I would have tried the trail mix, but Les Bowen of the Inquirer called it the worst trail mix he has ever had. I cannot vouch for Les' authority on trail mix, but he seemed pretty passionate about that proclamation. I would have normally tried the trail mix to see just how bad it was, but it was packaged in a small plastic bag, and I was certain I'd be wearing as much of the trail mix as I ate, so I punted on them like Doug Pederson playing for a tie.
For their pre-game meal, the Niners had turkey club and roast beef sandwiches on long rolls, as well as a Cobb salad and a southwest salad. Meh. I took the turkey club. They had obviously all been pre-made and pulled out of the fridge, because everything on the sandwich, including the bacon, was cold, as were the accompanying chips and cookie.
Apparently, some people like cold bacon, and actually prefer it to hot, crispy bacon? If you're one of them... How? Why? What went wrong in your lives? Anyway, I took a bite of the cold bacon, just to give it a chance, aaaaand... gross.
The sandwich construction was also bad. For example, the folded-over, overlapping turkey slices is no bueno.
To begin, you get an uneven amount of turkey on each bite. On the edges, it's like, "Yo goober, where's the meat?" And in the middle, it's a turkey overload. But also, when you fold the turkey over like that, I feel like you lose some of the turkey flavor.
My turkey preference is to peel each slice individually, and then jam them into the sandwich unfolded, and distributed evenly throughout, like you're rushing to pack a suitcase to catch a flight on the way home from vacation.
At halftime and post-game, they had nothing. Boooooo!
Finally, at every stadium, like most sports reporters, I like to sample a little urinal water. The Niners don't allow that.
Libs trying to take away guns, urinal water, and freedom, smh.
Bengals at Eagles, Week 3
Week 1, the Football Team served their press box food in pre-made see-through containers, and my assumption was that just about every other press box would do the same, as opposed to a having buffet style setup, or servers. The Eagles had servers, positioned behind an exotic labyrinth of glass partitions. There's one main glass partition, with cutouts where you can hand the food through. However, behind some of the cutouts were extra glass partitions, and it was hard to see where one secondary glass partition ended, and the next one began.
You might see a cutout on the main partition, try to reach through it to grab an individually-wrapped cookie or something, and than boom, your hand crashes into the second glass partition like a sparrow flying into a window. Yes, this happened to me. Anyway, here's an example of a secondary glass partition behind the initial glass partition. They did a nice job of keeping the food COVID-safe.
To note, that above spread was from the Eagles' Week 2 loss to the Rams. That week, the Eagles had salmon, chicken, tortellini, and roasted veggies. The true baller of the bunch was the tortellini, which had some kind of excellent cream sauce on it, but we're not reviewing that here.
Week 3 against the Bengals felt like a more apt time to review the Eagles. I wondered if they might slack off in a game that CBS had their W-crew calling (W, as in, A, B, C, D, etc..), and that no out-of-town Bengals reporters bothered traveling to.
But nope, they did a nice job, keeping up their consistency from Week 2 to Week 3. They served spicy chicken wings (but like, upscale spicy chicken wings, if that makes any sense), ribs, rigatoni, rice pilaf, and broccoli. Here's the chicken, ribs, and rigatoni.
The chicken was very tasty, but messy, the ribs were OK, and while the rigatoni wasn't as good as the tortellini the week before, it was still pretty good.
The Eagles also had a robust selection of salted snacky treats and candies. First the candies:
And the snackies:
Cheetos are really a bad choice for a work environment, what with them turning everything in their orbit bright orange. Also, Otis Spunkmeyer sounds like a gross act you might read about on Urban Dictionary.
Missing in action were the Eagles' soft pretzels, which made my 2019-2020 press box food spread all-star team. They are being replaced, temporarily I hope, by individually-wrapped soft pretzels, that are, eh, fine, I guess, but just not the same. I get it, but I don't have to like it.
They also had some healthy refrigerated yogurt mixes and salads.
Oh! And bottled waters are back! The Eagles took them away in previous seasons as part of a green initiative. I'm all for saving the planet, but personally, I don't think serving water in plastic bottles is going to be what eventually makes the Earth uninhabitable. My preference would be that our leaders make high-level, meaningful global preservation a priority. So give me my bottled water, and I'll do my part in voting out the Earth-destroying dipshit currently in the White House. Deal? Cool.
During the game against the Bengals, I had the following candies:
It was basically a shame spiral, and the sugar caused me to not shut the f*** up for four hours during the game. My apologies to Jeff McLane and Les Bowen of the Inquirer, as well as Evan Macy of PhillyVoice if I annoyed anyone. And then by the time the game ended, I didn't feel like writing and just wanted to take a nap.
Postgame, the Eagles had strombolis, that aren't good, but are still a step up from the gross pizza they used to serve after games. I skipped that Week 3, since I already sampled it Week 2.
Overall, a nice job by the Eagles. Certainly a better job by the food folks than the actual product on the field. I give it a solid B.
Eagles at Football Team, Week 1
A year ago, the Football Team tied with the Jets for the second-worst grade on the season, with a C-. The only team they beat out were the Jaguars, who got an F.
Food spreads aren’t going to be the same in 2020 as they were in 2019, because, you know, nothing is the same in 2020. In reality, they’re not even going to be food “spreads” at all. Typically, teams serve food, buffet-style, with some rare exceptions. For example, the NFL had boxed meals at the Eagles-Patri*ts Super Bowl in Minnesota, and the Rams earned an F in 2018 with their comically bad boxed meals.
In 2020, my assumption is that it’ll be boxed meals across the board, which should be a fun wrinkle for the press box food ratings this year. Because I have very little to compare to from previous years, boxed meal-wise, my grades may be a little more fluid this year, and are subject to change as the season progresses. If I grade a team harshly early in the season, and later realize that they weren’t so bad, comparatively speaking, then I reserve the right to go back and re-evaluate. Good? Great. OK, onto the Football Team “spread.”
The Football Team had four pre-game options:
The pre-game meals stunk. No, like, I mean, literally, they smelled bad.
“The pre-game meal smelled so disgusting it made me want to leave the press box,” Eliot Shorr-Parks of 94.1 WIP noted.
On the side, they had three muffins. Yes, only three when I looked, lol. They also had some refrigerated yogurt, a danish or two, trail mix, peanuts, chips, and assorted drinks. The coffee was via a Keurig machine, car dealership-style.
"I appreciated the peanuts," said Bo Wulf of The Athletic.
What I appreciated about the Football Team spread was that they had boxes with clear lids, so you could see what you were getting. I imagine that some teams will have boxes that don’t offer a food preview. They will be docked points, if so.
Anyway, I had the “brunch box.” It was gross. The chicken was super dry, and the potatoes looked and tasted like waffle fries marinated in water. Corn on the cob is also just a terrible choice for a press box. You get your hands all slimy, and then you’re left with corn stuck in your teeth. That’s a side for backyard cookouts, not work environments.
I wondered if I should have gone with one of the other options instead.
“The bacon was mushy and might have been spoiled,” Jeff McLane of the Inquirer said. “The pancakes were stale.”
OK, so maybe not. A look at my brunch box:
I happened to post that picture on Twitter, and a reader made the astute, yet horrifying observation that my chicken seemed to have a face on it.
They left the damn face on the chicken pic.twitter.com/V762CIE6p0— David McArdle (@David_McArdle1) September 13, 2020
I think it looks like some combination of a rooster, Jabba the Hutt, and the baby dinosaur from Dinosaurs.
At halftime, they had hot dogs and chicken quesadillas. I had a hot dog. It was fine, I guess.
“The chicken quesadilla was edible — the best thing I could say about it,” McLane said.
No cookies. No cake. No sweets of any kind. That seems like an easy enough thing to serve. Just individually wrap them. D.