National Tailgating Champs
Breaking through the ice & Vick excuses, a Houston team smokes some fun intodour Super Bowl
Leave it to Houston to bring a dash of feel-good fun to an increasingly gloomy Super Bowl XLV. Or more accurately, a slab.
On a day when huge sheets of ice slide off the roof of Cowboys Stadium and injured six people (one seriously), a day when Michael Vick's handlers tried to convince everyone that he didn't know anything about a Super Bowl party that had been advertised as the Michael Vick Experience for weeks (with commissioner Roger Goodell apparently buying the farfetched excuse), a day when Sports Illustrated's Peter King — the most prominent football writer in America — tweeted that Super Bowl XLV was "officially a debacle", a Houston team provided some light-hearted smokey thrills.
While proving to be the best tailgaters in America.
Wearing Houston Texans shirts and cowboy hats, the Bull's Eye Tailgaters — who started planning their first Houston Texans tailgate more than a year before the franchise's first game in 2002 — took home $15,000, a full-size golden grill trophy (which can actually be cooked on) and the title in the Bing National Tailgating Championship held in Fort Worth Friday.
If you've been to a number of Texans games, you'll probably recognize the Bull's Eye Tailgaters. Started by the Saldivar brothers (Ray, Troy and Jason), the Bull's Eyes are known for being willing to share their often-creative creations with fellow visitors to the Texans' Yellow Lot. If you haven't been fed by the Bull's Eye Tailgaters, you haven't been trying very hard.
Now, they're national tailgating champs — which comes ironically in a year when the Texans restricted tailgating for the first time (not that that evercame close to slowing down these diehards). The official Bull's Eye Tailgaters number more than 20 strong, though a smaller core group took the Super Bowl week competition. This is a grilling machine that's used to winning (Bull's Eye Tailgaters captured H-E-B Tailgater of the Year honors for their creations at Texans games in 2006 and 2008).
The Saldivar brothers in particular always took pride in Houston being deemed the top tailgating city in the NFL by Forbes magazine.
Now, thanks to the Bull's Eye gang's creativity — their winning entry was heavy on Cajun barbecue creations — the Bayou City is home to the national tailgating champs as well (this is the first year the search engine Bing held this competition). They beat five other tailgating teams from other NFL cities in the finals.
New Orleans Saints tailback Reggie Bush served as the guest judge. Bush seemed most impressed with the Texans' ability to withstand the cold. It hasn't been out of the 20s in Dallas since Monday and the competition was held outside in Fort Worth's Sundance Square, the same frozen area ESPN has been showing America all week.
"I don't care," Bush said about the weather's intimidating factor. "It's football weather."
Or winning weather, if you're from Houston.