British NFL fan explains 'Tailgate to Heaven'

Adam Goldstein grew up in England but rejected soccer to become a die-hard NFL fan. Courtesy of Adam Goldstein

Most sports fans have that one bucket list trip they plan to take and never do. Whether it's a round at Augusta National, a Yankees-Red Sox series or El Clasico, these pilgrimages usually end up being pipe dreams.

Not for Adam Goldstein, though. When the 28-year-old Englishman quit his job and sold his London apartment for about $60,000 to fund an NFL tailgate odyssey, he was ensuring he wouldn't chicken out.

"I had just met this awesome girl," he says, "and I was afraid I'd be blinded by love."

Instead, Goldstein was head over heels for all things NFL, which was a tough sell to anyone in his circle. He had chosen the wrong kind of football. As a kid, Goldstein never quite jibed with what he considers the violent, angry fan culture in the English Premier League.

"I couldn't stand the hooligans," he recalls. "I still can't."

But when an occasional NFL game aired, he was glued to the TV. His NFL fandom only grew as he got older and attended a few games live.

Then, in 2008, he decided to take on the ultimate NFL adventure. Eighteen weeks and 40 games later, Goldstein had a list of tailgate stories ranging from "delightful Raiders fans" to "cheeky folks at Lambeau who fed me bear." He drove from city to city in a rental car and bunked with friends and strangers to experience each of the 32 NFL towns on game day, and recently released a new book, "Tailgate To Heaven," which chronicles his crazy journey.

He spoke to ESPN Playbook about the experience.

ESPN Playbook: Are you broke?

Goldstein: I blew through my cash in no time, and I'm scared to look at my credit card bills.

Was the book part of your initial plan?

No. I'm no journalist. I was just going to create a blog to show my friends and family photos. When I decided to try a book, 167 publishers passed. Finally, Potomac, a U.S.-based company, decided to give me a shot.

Speaking of your family, did they think you were nuts?

Oh, sure. And my sister kept telling me to enjoy my holiday. That drove me crazy. I think I was being too pretentious about studying tailgate as this social epiphany. Eventually, I have to admit she helped me take it all in and have some fun.

What was your favorite tailgate?

I'm a Bears fan, so my trip to Green Bay was really amazing. I was just shocked by how nice everyone was to me. In England, if you show up at a Man U game in rival colors, you're going to have a terrible time. They just don't want you around. American football fans are so welcoming, so warm.

We don't get that very often.

Come on; you're all cooking steaks for strangers in a big parking lot. That's fantastic. In Britain, that would never happen.

So what happened with the girl?

We're celebrating our engagement while tailgating right now.

Follow Adam on his Tailgate to Heaven book tour here.