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How to Run the Best (tailgating) Spread Offense

February 3, 2019

Super Bowl Sunday is projected to reach temperatures of nearly 40 degrees Fahrenheit, which should mean one thing to New England Patriots superfans: It is time to fire up the grill for the big game.

Billy Burrows of Billerica, who was named Patriots Fan of the Year in 2017, will not tailgate in Atlanta on Sunday but he and three other local tailgaters offered up their secrets to crafting the perfect spread for any Patriots fan at home.

Burrows has been tailgating for over 20 years and has been recognized by the Patriots for his willingness to feed anyone that happens to visit his tailgating spot in parking lot P3 outside of Gillette Stadium. He serves up a little bit of everything, with favorites being steak tips, lobster tail and hot dogs.

“You name it, we serve it,” he said.

Burrows said that he likes to coordinate with other fans on Facebook to see what they are bringing to the game and that his favorite aspect of Patriots football is connecting with other fans. It enhances the game, he says, and amps up the energy before kickoff.

A memorable tailgating experience for Burrows was when he met with the Wahlburgers team, which once set up their bus next to his setup. They played cornhole with fans, and added to that positive pre-game energy that Burrows loves so much.

It got even better when they came to visit Burrows and his group.

“They came to over to our tailgate and it was very enjoyable,” Burrows said.

Despite not being able to cheer on his Patriots in person on Sunday, Burrows shared his ideal meal which consisted of feel-good game-day cuisine. Burrows would cook up lobster tails and steak tips with a side of baked potato topped with cheese and bacon if given the chance to show his stuff on an international stage.

Fellow Billerica resident Jim O’Connell also has an affinity for the classics.

O’Connell has served up banquets for nine years in lot three at Gillette. He and his group will typically cook soup, burgers, chicken wings and seafood along with an array of snacks for hungry Patriots fans. His ideal tailgating meal matches much of his usual fare.

For him, the best part of the tailgating experience is meeting new people and giving them loads of food to make them happy.

“We meet all kinds of fans from all over the world,” O’Connell said. “We have had fans from British Columbia, England, France, Ireland. We have (met) celebrities from (television) shows like Ryan Eggold... the Wahlburgers, Matt Light, Troy Brown.”

Being a Patriots fan is a great gift to O’Connell.

“We know that as long as Brady and Belichick are around, we are going to get the best the sport has to offer. The Pats have built a dynasty and it is great to be able to enjoy the game with such (a) great team,” he said.

Dan Shulman, a tailgater from Stoughton, has grown up with a deep love of this winning Patriots team.

“I’ve been a Pats fan all my life,” Shulman said. “To see what the team has done in that span is special and you definitely can’t take it for granted.”

Tailgating is just another part of the experience. Shulman, who graduated from Boston University in 2017 and now works as a reporter at the New England Soccer Journal, says that a good tailgate consists of a “good barbecue, close friends and lots of beer.”

He says that he likes to serve a famous dish from the city or region of the visiting team.

“It’s kind of a metaphor for eating the opponent,” he said.

If he were given the chance to tailgate at the Super Bowl, Shulman said that he would craft a larger-scale meal made up of some of his favorite tailgating classics that he has made in the past.

“Country style boneless ribs, cheesesteak sliders, teriyaki steak skewers and pulled chicken parm sliders are probably my top four,” he said.

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