2021-2022 NFL press box food spread ratings

2021-2022 NFL press box food spread ratings


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 observe that we’ll have the most recent press box reviews at the top.

Eagles at Lions, Week 8

The Lions didn’t serve breakfast, but they did have a whole heaping mess of pasta out at the crack of 10 a.m. They had:

  1. Salad, with sliced tomatoes and mozzarella
  2. Lemon garlic roasted green beans
  3. Bolognese and cavatappi pasta
  4. Roasted garlic grilled chicken, with alfredo and penne pasta
  5. Parmesan garlic Texas toast
  6. Assorted dessert bars

I had the Bolognese and cavatappi pasta and the chicken with the alfredo and penne pasta. I also had a piece of Texas toast, clearly, and a cookies and cream dessert bar.

The Texas toast was basically like a garlic-flavored piece of cardboard. I ate it anyway. On my way back to the trashcan to dispose of my empty plate, I saw a number of plates that had one bite taken out of the Texas toast, and an empty plate otherwise. It’s pretty hard to mess up garlic bread, but they did.

The chicken with the alfredo pasta was OK. The Bolognese, not as much, and I’m a Bolognese guy. According to a report from Jeff McLane of the Inquirer, they cleared the complete pregame spread at like 12:30 p.m., so if you didn’t get there by then, you were just kind of screwed. The regular spread was replaced with hot dogs. They already took away the dessert bars. Why? That doesn’t make any sense. If you’re the kind who likes to eat your meal, and then go back for dessert if there’s nevertheless room, you may have gone back eager for a cookies and cream bar, only to find… hot dogs? 

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At halftime, they had nachos and cheese whiz. That’s a hard pass from me. And frankly it’s kind of funny to me that you have to go by all sorts of COVID protocols just to get into the building, and then once inside, they’re serving a giant open vat of germ-catching cheese that a hundred or so people are taking turns ladling onto their plates. 

E.J. Smith of the Inquirer was annoyed that there was so much cheese. 

“It was so cheese-focused,” E.J. said. “I might already call it lazy. Don’t want cheesy pasta with red sauce? How about some Fettuccini Alfredo instead? If you’re insistent on avoiding dairy, you can have a salad and some rock-hard Texas toast. I held out for the halftime spread and was rewarded with CHEESE WHIZ AND TORTILLA CHIPS. Part of it is my own fault for trying to eat healthy in the press box, but nevertheless.”

I could see if we were in Green Bay, and they served a lot of cheese-related dishes, because that’s kind of their thing? But in Detroit, I have to say that I agree with E.J. here.

I did enjoy a little pregame warm apple cider. That probably saved them from getting an awful grade. 

You know, most people don’t know the difference between apple juice and apple cider. If it’s clear and yella, you’ve got juice there fella. If it’s tangy and brown, you’re in cider town.

After the game, they had pulled chicken sandwiches, wrapped in tin foil. They weren’t good, but I ate one anyway, and then just felt bad about myself.

at the minimum the food isn’t as bad as the team.

Grade: C-

Eagles at Raiders, Week 7

The Raiders’ press box in their new stadium was already known for being extravagant, as evidenced by this ridiculous donut creation Week 1: 

As such, my expectations heading into Allegiant Stadium were high. I arrived at like 8:45 a.m. PST, more than four hours before kickoff, and breakfast was already being served. A great start! They had:

  1. You choice of western scrambled eggs or a western tofu scramble with corn, black beans, and pico de gallo.
  2. Breakfast sausage and black pepper bacon
  3. French toast bake

A look:

They also had a dessert stop setup, again, that they began serving before 9:00 a.m., that included: 

  1. Philly cheesecake bars
  2. Shoofly pie
  3. Root beer float push pop
  4. Butterscotch Budino cups
  5. Eagles and Raiders cookies
  6. Chocolate pizza

Very nice variety and setup:

The Raiders made a point to serve Philly foods, or at the minimum what they thought were Philly foods, like the “Philly cheesecake bars.” I associate cheesecake with New York, but at all event. They also had “Philly dogs,” which were hot dogs that you could cover with cheesesteak meat mixed with peppers and onions. That doesn’t exist in Philly, much less character. Or at the minimum it shouldn’t. I feel like someone just made that up. Anyway, we’ll get back to the Philly food theme in a minute. 

The cheesecake was good. I also got a Butterscotch Budino cup and Eagles/Raiders cookies. I felt the need to get one of each so as to keep impartial, being the “BIG J” journalist that I am.

And then on top of all that, the Raiders also had the most rare press box item of the season so far. Chilled coconuts!

And sure, why not? Candy, too.

Again, to make this point clear, this was all served before 9:00 a.m. The Raiders were off to a good start!

Prior to kickoff, I wondered if they would pull the breakfast foods out and serve lunch. They did not, but they did have a new set of lunch foods at halftime, which included:

  1. Mac and cheese
  2. Cheesesteaks
  3. Roasted zucchini and yellow squash

Coming off a pair of road games in which the Cowboys served the best mac and cheese on the planet and the Panthers had a really substantial, B+ mac and cheese, the bar was high. It was not met. Bleh.

Its flavor was on par with its visual popularity. 

The cheesesteaks looked gross. I snapped a pic, but it’s too blurry to show. That’s my bad. I’ll be better next time. But it brings me back to a point that I’ve made repeatedly in these press box food spreads. DON’T SERVE WHAT THE OTHER TEAM’S CITY IS KNOWN FOR. YOU WON’T DO IT in addition AS THAT CITY, AND IT’S SILLY TO TRY. Just do what you do.

Anyway, Raiders breakfast, good. Raiders lunch, bad.

After the game, the Raiders didn’t serve anything and they kinda rushed us out of there as we were trying to write our postgame stories.

The Las Vegas Raiders’ spread was a great representation of their city — all showy and exciting at first, with decreasing popularity the longer you stay. 

Grade: B-

Eagles at Panthers, Week 5

In the morning, the Panthers had Krispy Kreme donuts and coffee. I’ve had plenty of Krispy Kreme donuts in my day, and however, I don’t know if I’ve ever truly paid for one. Is that true for the rest of you? Anyway, my first thought whenever I see them is, “Yeah, I’m not eating one of those.” And then I see them, and they look good, and I eat one, and it’s delicious, and then I wish I had more self control. For the purpose of these food spread reviews, I didn’t have to eat one. We’ve all had them. We all know what they are. I didn’t have to sample it to tell you that they’re delicious. And however, I ate one anyway. Ugh.

The Panthers didn’t serve breakfast otherwise, but they did at the minimum serve lunch early. The lunch buffet served its first media guy at 10:16 a.m. That’s perfectly permissible. They had salad, a carving stop (chief rib), turkey, roasted potatoes, mac and cheese, dinner rolls, and assorted cookies. I tried all of it.

substantial plate of food. The chief rib might look a little dry in that picture, and to some degree, it was, but it was flavorful. I do think that carving stop guys in general should cut smaller pieces, especially if there are other food options. That’s a lot of chief rib to have to commit to.

The potatoes and mac and cheese were both good, but nowhere on the level of the Cowboys’ mac and cheese, which again, is the best mac and cheese I’ve ever had. I feel like any press box that serves mac and cheese the rest of the season is going to prompt a discussion about how good the Cowboys’ mac and cheese was, and sure enough, Ed Kracz of SI didn’t disappoint. Mike Kaye of NJ.com thought the Panthers’ mac and cheese was better than the Cowboys’ mac and cheese, which is a take that is so bad that I’m mad at myself for already typing it.

The Panthers also had self serve soft ice cream. I went with the vanilla-chocolate twist with rainbow sprinkles and chopped Oreos. They also had chocolate sauce, chopped cherries, and nuts. 

observe to press boxes food spread directors who are hosting the Eagles this season — if you have ice cream, you will have points additional on in your favor. Please make a observe of it.

At halftime, they had sausages on hot dog buns. That’s pretty shared in NFL press boxes at halftime. It was fine. And then after the game was over they had chicken fingers. They looked like standard frozen chicken fingers, but these truly had a little kick to them. I was pleasantly surprised.

The Panthers had the unenviable task of following the Falcons (Grade: A) and the Cowboys (Grade: A++). It’s almost like trying to be Jeff Garcia in San Francisco, trying to follow Joe Montana and Steve Young. Garcia was a good quarterback for the Niners, and already made some Pro Bowls, but he was never going to win a Super Bowl. Similarly, the Panthers had some good stuff, and I’d be perfectly happy if I were a Panthers reporter and got to eat their spread on a regular basis, but it’s too difficult to stand out after we just graded Dallas.

Grade: B 

MORE: Handing out 10 awards from the Eagles-Panthers game  Five questions we have about the Eagles after their reappearance win

Eagles at Cowboys, Week 3

To begin, I should first observe that I weighed myself at the hotel prior to leaving for the stadium, with the intention of seeing how much weight I attained by the time I returned after the game.

Make your guesses now before scrolling down. Done? Cool. Continuing on…

I arrived at AT&T stadium around three and a half hours before kickoff, and the Cowboys were already serving dinner. Their pre-game spread, as always, was ridiculous:

• Smoked beef ribeye with green peppercorns, garlic, and crusted rosemary, with a brandy and mustard demi-glaze.

• Caesar salad: Romaine and heritage salad blend, with shaved parmesan cheese, kalamata olives, roasted tomatoes, Texas toast croutons, and jalapeño Caesar dressing.

• Greek antipasti salad: Heirloom pear tomatoes, asparagus, English cucumbers, sliced green olives, roasted red peppers, feta cheese crumbles, baby arugula, and while Balsamic vinaigrette.  

• Open-confront roast beef caprese: Roast beef, mozzarella, baby arugula, marinated tomatoes, and Balsalmic spread on a herbed breaded loaf.

• Apricot brandy encrusted pork tenderloin with agave and chipotle glaze.

• Loaded double baked potatoes with bacon bits, chives, and cheddar.

• Grilled broccolini with sweet peppers and red pickle onions.

• Cowboys mac and cheese.

• Assorted dinner rolls with creamy butter.

I had the rib eye, the apricot pork, the mac and cheese, the twice baked potato, and a dinner roll, shown here: 

I’m more of a filet guy than a ribeye guy because there’s a little more fat than I prefer on a ribeye, but it was nevertheless pretty damn good. The potatoes were great, and I appreciate the additional effort that goes into twice baked potatoes.

But nothing compares to the mac and cheese, which is seriously the best mac and cheese I’ve ever had. To be clear, I don’t just sometimes have mac and cheese. If I’m out at a restaurant and they have a mac and cheese side on the menu, I’m getting it, like every time. On Monday night, the Cowboys mac and cheese was amazing as always. Likely MVP this year.

And then I also think we need to concede the apricot pork, which is a strong contender for Rookie of the Year honors. The apricot brandy sauce was delicious, and the pork was cooked perfectly, which isn’t easy to pull off.

They also had a candy and a dessert stop shown, as shown in the two pics below:

They used to have a big bulk candy stop, which I guess they got rid of due to COVID? The candy boxes are a strong different. I grabbed a candy box, a cannoli, and a pudding shooter. My candy box had a Payday, a Milky Way, A Dum Dum, a KitKat, A Twix, two Starbursts (the good ones — pink and red), and M&M’s. I ate all of it. They were small sizes, to be clear, clearly. Or maybe not so clearly? at all event.

At halftime, they brought out an thoroughly new spread, lol. Here’s what they had:

• Mini cheesesteaks with jalapeño jack cheese, and caramelized onions. 

• A “Guac fiesta bar” with grilled shrimp, pulled brisket, pulled pork, guacamole tortilla chips, chicharrones skins, queso fresca, grilled jalapeños, and spicy crema corn.

• Chicken spring rolls with sweet chili sauce.

• Buffalo boneless wings with celery sticks, carrot sticks, blue cheese dressing, and ranch dressing.

• Nathan’s kosher style hot dogs, with your choice of chili, sauerkraut, ketchup, mustard, pickles, and relish.

• They already replaced the original desserts with new ones, which included chocolate chip and macadamia but cookies, in addition as mini cupcakes.

I had the boneless wings (excellent), the pulled pork, pulled brisket, chips, a chocolate chip cookie, and a mini cupcake.

typically, I don’t like when opposing teams serve cheesesteaks, because (a) I can get those in or around Philly, and (b) they’re not going to make them anywhere near in addition as places in or around Philly. I didn’t have the cheesesteak because I simply couldn’t fit anything more into my body, but seemingly they were very good, per Eliot Shorr-Parks of WIP. And I respect that the Cowboys put their own southwestern spin on them by adding jalapeños. It wasn’t enough that the Cowboys beat the Eagles’ asses on the field. They also had to go ahead and make better cheesesteaks while they were at it.

And then, as always, post-game, they had beer. They had Miller Lite and Revolver Brewing Blood and Honey. I had three tall glasses of the latter.

When I got back to my hotel, I fell asleep. 

Anyway, I did not weigh myself until the morning. The results:

Grade: A++

Eagles at Falcons: Week 1

From the time the Falcons opened their food spread at 11:00 a.m. until around 12:30 p.m., I had all of the following, in chronological order:

  1. Chicken parm
  2. Mac and cheese
  3. Garlic bread
  4. Carved turkey with chimichurri
  5. Vanilla and chocolate soft serve with rainbow sprinkles, crumbled Oreos, and crumbled mini M&Ms.
  6. A soft pretzel
  7. A hot dog

typically, I don’t eat everything that each press box offers, but it all looked good, so I thought I owed it to the Falcons — and more importantly, to you — to sample as much of it as I could. The game hasn’t already started as I kind this very sentence, and I want to take a long nap.

Update at 12:35 p.m.: Jeff McLane of the Inquirer just came over to talk press box food spread shop with me, and he noted that they also have a brisket sandwich. I’m sorry, but I just can’t. That’s not happening.

Anyway, the all-star of the pre-game spread was the ice cream sundae:

Yes, the Falcons served ice cream in the morning. And yes, they will be rewarded for doing so.

The chicken parm, mac and cheese, and garlic bread came in a pre-packaged box, COVID-style, like most teams served food during the 2020 season. For a boxed lunch, it was better than anything we had on the road a year ago.

The carved turkey with chimichurri was OK, and I only ate the pretzel to see how it stacked up vs. the Eagles’ pretzels. Again, it was fine. Eliot Shorr-Parks of WIP asked if cheese came with it, and when I said I believed it was a dipping option, he opined, “I prefer my soft pretzels to have cheese on the inside.” No information if Eliot traveled to Atlanta in a private Gulfstream G4 jet. 

The hot dog was very good, and it already came on a black sesame seed bun. typically, I’d have skipped the hot dog, but if they’re going to go to that additional effort, it would be rude not to eat it. It was delicious.

Again, I ate all of the above things before the game already started. At halftime, the Falcons served street chicken pitas with lettuce. typically, the halftime meal is sort of like the ugly brother to at all event the main pre-game meal was, but the street pita was pretty good.

The Falcons also served popcorn, cupcakes, chocolate chip cookies, and they had a salad bar (no room for empty vitamins). typically, I’d at the minimum sample the cookie, but I had already put my stomach by enough. I noticed during the game that Tim McManus of ESPN had sampled a associate of cookies, so I texted him bright and early on Monday morning for his take.

So there you go.

Grade: This spread wasn’t quite as good as the one the Falcons put out in 2019, but it’s fair to observe that we’re grading these on a curve, as COVID is affecting what each team is able to serve, and how they serve it. It was a far batter spread than anyone put out in 2020, and for that, on opening weekend of the 2021 NFL season, they earned themselves an A.

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