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September 13, 2023

2023-2024 NFL press box food spread ratings

Jimmy Kempski reviews food spreads from press boxes across NFL stadiums.

Eagles NFL
081523RavensPlate 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, dweeb. Please note that we'll have the most recent press box reviews at the top.


Eagles at Patriots: Week 1

Before we get to the food, let's first talk about getting to this stadium that is in the middle of nowhere.

To begin, I live in South Jersey, and it's about 20 miles from my house to Lincoln Financial Field. When the Eagles play at home on Sunday, I can typically commute there in 30 minutes or less. And that's driving into a major American city. If you've ever attended a Patriots game in Foxborough, you probably already know it's a nightmare. I stayed in Providence, RI (roughly 24 miles away), and left at around 11:15, anticipating major headaches and trying to get in early to avoid them. The first 20 or so miles up I-95 were fine. But once you get off 95, there's only one county road in and out of Gillette. 

First, let's take a look at the map of this shitshow of a stadium location, and then I'll show you what Waze had me do:


Waze directions:

• I went up 95, cruising, for like 21 miles. No traffic that early before kickoff.

• Waze had me get off at the exit onto Mechanic Street. Left on Mechanic. No crazy traffic yet.

• Right on Beach St. On Beach St., there are signs warning drivers not to use Beach St. if you're headed to the game. Now, I don't know if these are signs that were put up by law enforcement in Foxborough or by the folks who live on Beach St., but whoever put them there, piss off. Anyway, there was some traffic on Beach St., but nothing too crazy.

• Right on North St. No issues there.

• Left on Route 1. At this point, your GPS will say that you only have like 0.3 miles to go. But the reality is that this is really where your drive begins, as Route 1 on gameday is basically the ninth circle of hell. It took me less time to drive the ~24 miles from Providence to this point than it took from here until I parked my cahhh, as the locals say. There's virtually no signage of where to go / what lots are where, you'll sit at individual traffic lights for literally for 5-10 minutes (like, they're just red for that long), and the folks directing traffic are pretty much overwhelmed. And again, I got to this point of the drive at like 11:45, almost five hours before a 4:25 kickoff! I didn't get to the press box until like 12:40. I can only imagine what it's like if you arrive an hour or two before kickoff. You'll almost certainly miss some of the game.

There's no other stadium like this in the NFL. Like, even FedEx field, which is also in the middle of nowhere and is awful in countless ways, is at least relatively easy to get to.

Anyway, onto the food. Upon arrival, a coffee would've been nice, but, nope. They had nothing served whatsoever. By comparison, the Eagles' press box food spread was humming four-plus hours before kickoff for preseason games this summer. The Patriots didn't serve anything until around like 2:30-ish, I think(?), or two hours before kickoff.

The pregame options were:

  1. "Doms' steak tips"
  2. Rosemary roasted chicken breast
  3. Mac and cheese
  4. Mashed potatoes
  5. Vegetables
  6. New England clam chowder

My plate:


The steak tips were good, and the chicken didn't look very good but it was fine. The mac and cheese and mashed potatoes... 👎. I didn't even see the clam chowder, as it was hidden in the corner, but Ed Kracz of SI said it was "legit." 

Bo Wulf of PHLY also astutely pointed out that there was nothing to snack on during the game, which I agree is crucial. They did have cookies that were pretty good. I was happy with my chocolate chip cookie, and Shamus Clancy of PhillyVoice went out of his way to praise their oatmeal raisin cookies.

At halftime they had wraps and sandwiches. E.J. Smith of the Inquirer had a Chicken Caesar wrap.

"Chicken was solid, no weird pieces or anything, and the dressing was surprisingly good," he said.

They also had ice cream and pie, as well as some cupcakes that looked very good, but also very fattening.


It's funny to me that on each of the four peanut butter (?) cupcakes there's a broken pretzel on top. I guess they had no intact pretzels? I just had a scoop of ice cream.

Postgame, by the time we got back to the press box from postgame locker room access, they had a bunch of empty pizza boxes, and this one unwanted mystery pizza:


The red things weren't pepperoni, and the gray things weren't mushrooms. I wasn't sure what they were, nor were the folks in the general vicinity who I polled. OF COURSE that was the only pizza that was left, by the way, because, I mean, who would choose that? Oh, and no postgame coffee.

Grade: In past years, I recall the Patriots having good food spreads. This one was disappointing, and other factors (just getting there) also dampened the mood and hurt their grade. C.


Eagles at Ravens: Preseason Week 1

On my drive down I-95 to Baltimore, I was hungry and started thinking about the Ravens' spread, which I remembered to be pretty good the last time the Eagles played there in 2016, during Carson Wentz's rookie season. I recalled everyone raving about their crabcakes.

In preseason game No. 1, the Ravens did not serve crabcakes. Here's what they did have, via the second-best press box food reviewer in the game, Ross Tucker.

The hot dogs and salad were ready to go when I arrived, so, you know, I sampled each:


Soon after they rolled out their main course. I had the chicken cacciatore, a couple of meatballs, the pasta, a breadstick, and a cannoli. I forgot to take a picture of my plate before I started eating. It's the preseason for my food spread reviews, too, I guess. Anyway, here's my half-eaten plate:


The chicken cacciatore is absent from my plate above, but here's what that looked like in the tray:


The best thing on my plate was the pasta. Everything else... meh. The breadsticks were surprisingly bad. 

But where the Ravens' spread really fell off the wheels was at halftime. As you can see on Tucker's menu above, there were supposed to be chicken tenders and soft pretzels, but when halftime rolled around, there was nothing. I went back about 10 minutes into halftime, and still, nothing. They did eventually serve the chicken tenders. John McMullen of SI said, "They were crispy, and tender. I thought they were tremendous." Unfortunately, John's description doesn't put the tremendous chicken tenders in my stomach now, does it?

After the game, the Ravens were supposed to be serving pizza. Again, no pizza, as far as I could tell. They did at least have candy (I had a Snickers), and they left the coffee machines on, which was crucial for the drive home.

Pizza update 🍕📰: I have since learned that the Ravens did eventually serve pizza, after I left for the night. I am awaiting commentary from those who sampled it.

Pizza update No. 2 🍕📰: "Doughy," said Chris Franklin of "It was doughy."

Grade: It's the preseason. We're all trying to work out the kinks. I'll be kind. C-.

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