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After three NFL seasons of kicking off from the 35-yard line, what has been the impact on touchbacks, returns, field position, scoring and injuries? Also, is this rule responsible for a record number of big comebacks?

10 Oct 2007

Scramble for the Ball: Examining the Bar

by Bill Barnwell

I hope you all enjoyed Doug Farrar's turn on Scramble last week, but I've returned to discuss a topic near and dear to my heart at the moment: The sports bar.

As I noted a couple of weeks ago, I recently moved to San Francisco after living in Boston for several years. While I'm searching for an apartment, I needed to find a sports bar on Sunday to catch the week's action. This Sunday, I set out to one of the local sports bars and it was, well, a disaster.

The free wi-fi that was promised was almost entirely nonfunctional. (Fortunately, I was able to sustain a IRC connection and maintain my role as king of the unofficial FO IRC channel for the week.) While the bar had Sunday Ticket, it wasn't much use with only three televisions, all in spots that only allowed viewers in one section of the bar to see that game. Good if you're playing Goldeneye... not so good if you're wanting to see multiple football games. Instead of the play-by-play of any of the three games, we got, strangely, talk radio over the TV. Finally, when the Redskins game was out of hand, was the game tuned to a closer game at 1:00 PDT? No. Suitably chastened, I left and went to my backup bar, which had already proven itself to be decisively mediocre but, well, had much stronger drinks.

My old bar was Allston's Sports Depot, which had the benefit of good wings and lots of televisions, but was inconsistent from week-to-week on how long they'd let you stay, what the drink minimums were, or what games would actually be shown. The Sports Depot was not great, but it was an altogether decent sports bar.

So, this got me to thinking -- what would make the ideal sports bar? I gathered some initial thoughts, polled some friends, and then asked the FO team. Our collective thoughts were, somewhat not surprisingly, varied and even contradictory at times.

Televisions

Televisions can be an absolute deal-breaker. First off, this seems almost not necessary to mention at this point, but I actually passed by the San Francisco chapter of a popular chain restaurant revolving around cleavage and it had nary an HDTV. Not even one. You're not a sports bar if you're not trafficking in HD at this point.

Placement of the televisions is huge too. Having televisions in corners visible to just one table makes no sense. While putting all the televisions on one wall usually isn't a good idea, either, putting televisions on the sides and the tables in the middle where most people can see them makes the most sense. A good amount of people go to see one game, but if their game is boring or in commercial, they'll want something else to watch. They'll need to see more than one game.

Now, the first real debate came in discussing the content of what's on the televisions. Initially, I said that as long as there are enough televisions available, each TV should have a different game on, unless it's a local bar and there are barely enough TV's to cover all the games and still feature the local team. An FO staffer disagreed: "Anyone who sits surrounded by six games on six TVs and groans 'where is my Texans-Chiefs game?' gets tasered." Funny, I know that guy -- he leaves a comment in the Audibles discussion thread every week. But I digress. My point is that it's easier to alienate a fan by not having his team on at all than it is to alienate a fan whose team isn't on the best TV. If you're a Vikings fan and you walk into a bar in San Francisco and the bar isn't showing the Vikings game, well, you're going to find a bar that does. If it only shows it on a smaller TV, well, you're more likely to go back than you are to try and find another bar that shows the Vikings on a bigger one.

Everyone agreed that the bar needs a manager who knows what he/she is doing. This means that they need to know how to change the channel on a specific television without a ten-minute delay. Ideally, there should be 20 boxes behind the scenes that can be changed without someone having to fetch the right remote, walk over to the TV, fumble around trying to find the game, and turning it on two possessions later. This isn't that hard. Apparently, this is a huge problem on sports bars in college campuses, according to another FO staffer.

One of the positives about the second bar I went to on Sunday was how they handled the television setup. All their TVs were numbered, and when you walked into the bar, there was a card which listed all the games (including the two baseball games), when they would be turned on, and what number televisions the game would air on. A somewhat militant FO writer noted that TVs should be labeled for the 1:00 and 4:00 games by 11 AM, and if it was up to him, it would be posted by 7 PM on Saturday night for "advanced scouting purposes."

Changing the televisions is another issue up for debate. The following "Rule of 75" was proposed: Take the quarter and multiply by the score differential; if the product is greater than or equal to 75, the channel changes.

Sound

I think we can all agree that random talk radio doesn't work. The Sports Depot had a lone table that had an audio hookup that would play the audio from the TV closest to it out of a small speaker; it was obnoxious, to be honest, since I wasn't watching that game and was sitting next to that table, but I'm sure the people in that booth who were watching the game actually enjoyed it. An FO writer noted, "I was at a bar in Pittsburgh once, and I have this memory of having Dick Stockton babble aimlessly with periodic interjections from Tony Siragusa while I was trying to follow action of another game." Dick Stockton babbling aimlessly, actually, was the talk radio show I was listening to earlier. I'm pretty sure some trust fund hipster got Stockton to narrate a numbers station. I'm inclined to think that the bar playing the audio of the most important game of the week (e.g. the one on the most/biggest TVs) is the best solution, but I'm also open to other solutions.

Internet

Free. Wi-Fi.

Food/Drink

An FO staffer (by which I mean "Mike Tanier") said: "Nothing should be labeled a Philly Cheesesteak unless it is really a Philly Cheesesteak that was prepared in Philadelphia, or by someone who can give directions from 17th and Shunk to the Italian Market without reading a map, or was blessed by Ed Rendell. South of Elkton, Maryland, north of New Brunswick, New Jersey, and west of about Altoona, it should be called a "crappy imitation steak sandwich." If "crappy imitation steak sandwich" was on the menu, though, I would not be able to stop myself from ordering one, so it's a conundrum.

My general problem with food at sports bars on Sunday is that it's usually a standard menu, and that's not really what I'm looking for if I'm staying for six or seven hours. If I get food early in the first game, I'm probably going to be hungry at some point during the second game, and it's a little difficult to justify ordering a second meal and end up spending $30 on food on top of drinks. It should be less like a standard menu and more like, well, tapas. If restaurants served smaller portions of bar food at cheaper prices, they'd get orders throughout the game as opposed to the one big order. In the same vein, a buffet would work, with the focus being on having as much food and staffing ready for halftime of the 1:00 game and at 4:30.

FO West Coast, of course, noted that its bars had things like omelettes, but decried the lack of availability of pancakes at said bars. As someone who has seen drunken people try to prepare pancakes on St. Patrick's Day on a griddle more than once unsuccessfully, I have to caution the rest of FO West Coast against this. FO East Coast got jealous of the omelette situation and dreamed the wonderful dream of omelettes across America on Sundays.

Seating

An FO staffer asked, "Are we being realistic or fantastic here? Because in the PERFECT sports bar, every customer would get their own sofa and/or Lazyboy..."

This led to some epic ideas. "I like the recliner idea, but there need to be barstools too for those of us who like barstools. Maybe a traditional bar area with stools and one of those cool copper ceilings; then, more of a lounge area with lots of TVs but also a hearth." Think December, Saturday day game, two fingers of good whiskey, game on, Christmas decorations up, roaring fire, waitress who looks like the hot daughter of a PBS quasi-celebrity, peppers-and-egg sandwich. Yeah."

That led to the biggest debate of all.

Boobs

Many a good friendship has been torn asunder by the charms of a lady, especially one in a football jersey. One FO staffer suggested that the wait staff should be the kind of girls TMQ linked to, but another disagreed. "As for the girls, this being a sports bar, there should be a median level of hotness. If they are too hot they will distract from the sports experience. The girl at my local place is perfect: she looks like the 22-year old daughter of Dr. Elyse Luray of History Detectives. Perfect for staring at during commercials, but you can tear yourself away during the 2-minute drill." A third FO staffer stepped in. "I disagree on the level of hotness. The hotter the better. You know, with those half-sized football jerseys with ¼ sleeves, and at least a cursory knowledge of the game." The two squared off in a Paint debate of Bar 1 vs. Bar 2. I personally pick the latter.

Video Games

While I noted that video games and beer often don't mesh together -- especially if the Wii is involved -- it seemed harmless enough to take a TV away from the action and hook Madden up to it so that people could play the mini-game modes. Another writer suggested a game room with a couple of low-end TVs, but with NFL Blitz, Golden Tee, and maybe foosball/pool/bubble hockey. I, of course, also advocate Mutant League Football at all times.

Wacky Ideas

I had a couple of stranger ideas, too, to get people into the bar. The top one was to have a rivalry game each week -- take Eagles-Giants, for example. If you showed up at the bar in an Eagles or Giants jersey, whichever team won the game between the two that week would see its jersey-wearing fans enjoy half-price beers for the hour following the game. Tanier, however, noted that "if you offer half-price drinks after an Eagles-Cowboys game, someone will end up dead."

I also noticed that the Sports Depot had a week where the bar was, for some reason, covered with about 40 copies of the latest issue of Playboy. I still wasn't sure whether this was a good idea or a bad idea until an FO writer pointed out, "Bad idea. Always go with Penthouse, like Tim Whatley's waiting room."

Fantasy

My favorite idea, though, came from discussing possibilities for fantasy updates. I suggested that one TV each week should be devoted to the NFL Red Zone channel and/or connected to a computer with live stat updates so that people could stop by and check the stats for their fantasy team at a glance.

I was topped, though, when it was suggested that "One waitress should be assigned to just sitting on NFL.com and looking up fantasy info, and all fantasy guys will have to go to her for questions." No one, really, could compete with Fantasy Waitress. I don't know whether she'd sit at a table in the front and guys could come up to her like it was a kissing both, I don't know whether she'd walk around the room with a big calculator sticking out of her top, or I don't know whether she'd be a different waitress every 20 minutes and it would be like a mystery shopper kinda deal, but all of these possibilities excite me in the way a good sports bar should.

Check out the Football Outsiders comics archive and Jason's wacky Gil Thorp blog.

Loser League

In order to properly shame myself, I need to note that I selected Sebastian Janikowski in last week's internal week-by-week Loser League. The problem with picking Janikowski? Well, while he's been a great Loser this year, he was on a bye last week. Not my best showing.

QB: Jon Kitna did not blame God for his 2 this week, but at least he didn't get concussed. Joey Harrington, on the other hand, has no one to blame or bless beyond himself and his own confusion. If he's about to be supplanted by Byron Leftwich, well, they've said it was Joey's last chance before, and he managed to bleed six more starts out of a stone. Let's at least give him credit for that.

RB: Certain Pennsylvania players, coaches, and beat writers might not believe in the "Curse of 370", but, well, Larry Johnson sure seems to. Through five games, Johnson's yards per carry has dropped a full yard and he hasn't scored a single touchdown. He's not even on pace to hit 900 yards, and if he keeps putting up numbers like the 12 rushing yard, 3 passing yard day he mustered in Week 5 (good for a 1 in Loser League), well, he'll be a data point. Leon Washington did his best Johnson impression, rushing for 13 yards and an impressive -1 receiving yards. He also had a single. Speaking of 370, Shaun Alexander followed them with two points, as did Ladell Betts.

WR: I salute men with zeroes at wideout, so I was delighted to see two this week. Congratulations go out to Darrell Jackson and Joe Horn, who couldn't even combine for 10 receiving yards. The former receiving tandem of Chris Chambers and Wes Welker had one point each, as did Shaun McDonald, the now-injured Deion Branch, and the always-inexplicable Reggie Williams.

K: The only negative score of the week was the Losingest Loser of the Week, 49ers kicker Joe Nedney. He kicked an extra point, but missed a field goal. It was from 52, but Loser League does not care about such frivolities. Josh Brown's only excitement about being shutout was, as a result, spoiled. Thanks Joe.

Keep Choppin' Wood Award

KCW this week goes to Miami coach Cam Cameron. When your 37-year-old starting quarterback missed last year with a concussion, you want to protect him, even if it means protecting him from himself. That means making the rules very clear to said quarterback: Don't throw a chop block on the back side of a play with your head. Cameron's carelessness cost the Dolphins their starting quarterback, the latest guy who was supposed to solidify the Dolphins behind center but failed to perform before getting hurt. Sometimes, even I feel bad for Chris Chambers.

Best Bets

Doug Farrar was 0-3 last week, 5-6-1 overall

Hey, it could have been worse. Bill Simmons went 3-11 last week.

Philadelphia (-3) over NEW YORK JETS

I just don't see the Jets being able to do anything about the Eagles passing offense outside of begging for mercy. You can press the Eagles and throw their timing off, but the Jets don't have the corners for it. It'll be a big day for Donovan McNabb.

SAN DIEGO (-10) over Oakland

Oakland's rushing defense is the worst in football this year according to DVOA. LaDainian Tomlinson is really good. He had two 100+ yard games against good Oakland defenses last year, so I think he can do even better against a worse version.

St. Louis (+10) over BALTIMORE

I have no idea what St. Louis is going to do on offense with Gus Frerotte and Brian Leonard versus the Baltimore defense, but hey, Baltimore's still going to have to outscore them by 11 points, and I don't think Baltimore's O is good enough to do that. What? Ian? Is that you?

Posted by: Bill Barnwell on 10 Oct 2007

107 comments, Last at 25 Nov 2007, 6:10pm by Ben Stuplisberger

Comments

1
by Harris (not verified) :: Wed, 10/10/2007 - 6:30pm

First, Mike Tanier is a god among men.

Second, Las Vegas sportsbooks are great for the slothful football fan. You can plop your doughy ass down at 7 a.m. Saturday and, provided your order periodically and tip well, sit there until after the Sunday night post-game. Meanwhile, you'll get every NFL game on a giant screen and all but the most obscure college games. You probably can't get a real cheesteak, but you can probably get pancakes in the better places. Do I even need to mention the women?

2
by zach (not verified) :: Wed, 10/10/2007 - 6:31pm

I recently moved to the bay area from the east coast as well and finding a good sports bar out here is not easy. It took me a whole week of research to figure out where I would be watching the week 1 action. For me, anything less than all of the games on at the same time is intolerable, and I'd prefer if the domestic beer doesn't cost 8 bucks (it actually did at the only place anywhere near my house that showed all the games at the same time.) I think it has to do with the fact that not a whole lot of people want to buy booze at 10am, so if a place is gonna invest in the tvs and open early on Sunday, it's gotta have a food menu and an owner who's a real football fan.
After an exhaustive search I finally found Xanadu about a half hour drive from my house in San Leandro. The name of the bar is Ricky's and it's got more tv's than Circuit City, a separate big screen and seating area for almost every game and a fantastic atmosphere that is both fan and family friendly. I thought I liked my place in NYC but I've never seen anything quite like this place before. It actually makes me never want to leave Oakland.
Do the research, be willing to travel a little farther, and you too can find a great place to drink beer and yell at a tv at 10am on Sunday morning.

3
by Andy L. (not verified) :: Wed, 10/10/2007 - 6:41pm

Wow, great article. Like a Bill Simmons gem, it's link-worthy to friends. Are there any better articles than guys-talking-about-guy-things?

4
by Jimmy (not verified) :: Wed, 10/10/2007 - 6:42pm

OK yanky-doodles before any of you moan about finding a decent bar to watch football in try doing the same thing on the Eastern side of the Atlantic. Any bar kitted up to provide decent viewing generally shows spanish football after the soccer matches finish.

And before anyone from the UK mentions the Sports Cafe, I said 'decent bar'.

5
by Brian (not verified) :: Wed, 10/10/2007 - 6:51pm

First, I'd like to say any bar that has 3 TVs and markets itself as a sports bar should be sued for false advertising.

I live in Austin, Texas, which is definitely a college town, but I find that the restaurant managers here are actually far more adept at channel-changing than in any other city I've tried to watch sports in.

Here's the setup I like: A few very large TVs on the walls playing the local game and the important games, while the bar itself is host to 3 or 4 TVs showing the lesser games. That way most people can see the big games from wherever they are, while fans of other teams can choose the barstools near their game of choice.

6
by Unshakable Optimist (not verified) :: Wed, 10/10/2007 - 6:53pm

I've found a pretty good sports bar called Boston's here in Tampa, but it's by no means perfect. In fact, it's horribly flawed, but at least the TV's are all big. They also hang flags of the teams that will be playing on each tv, so you know beforehand where to sit. It's especially great if you're there to see the local game, because it's on like 4-5 tv's. The problems are that there doesn't seem to be enough seats, the manager doesn't change the channel briskly enough, and they leave out some of the peripheral games even while showing another non-big game on two tv's side-by-side. Really the main reason I go there is because they have 3 big HDTV's right behind the bar, so I get a great view.

Regarding sound, here is what I think by far is the best solution: numbered tvs with portable speaker boxes. You choose what game you want to hear by changing the channel on the speakerbox to coincide with the number on the tv. It's a great system, but the only place I know that does it has nothing but small non-HDTV's.

7
by Grizzled Old Scout (not verified) :: Wed, 10/10/2007 - 6:57pm

The Station Sports Bar in Baton Rouge, LA. Leather couches & chairs, AND old-fashioned bar stools. 30 TVs, including 5 big-screen HDTVs. Varied menu, over a hundred brands of beers, and tending bar are some of the most beautiful girls LSU has to offer.

Oh, wait. Blue laws have them closed on Sundays.

Never mind

8
by hooper (not verified) :: Wed, 10/10/2007 - 7:04pm

Re: 4
OK yanky-doodles before any of you moan about finding a decent bar to watch football in...

It's all about the pursuit of perfection. If we settle for mediocre, we'll never reach the promised land.

9
by MarkV (not verified) :: Wed, 10/10/2007 - 7:11pm

I just moved out of the states to Lima Peru, and its just a challenge to find any game. BUT when I do, the commentators are all hilarious.

10
by Unshakable Optimist (not verified) :: Wed, 10/10/2007 - 7:11pm

Oh, I forgot to mention the gallon pitchers of beer:)

11
by oro (not verified) :: Wed, 10/10/2007 - 7:18pm

As a Dolfan I have obvious problems with how the QB position has been handled post-Marino, including bringing in a concussion prone washed up vet. (Though I have no problems with them getting rid of Culpepper).
But, I fail to see how Green's concussion on play was Cameron's fault. It was a BROKEN PLAY - Ginn fumbled the ball and should have just fallen on it or ran it out of bounds. Instead he reverses field - Camneron didn't design the play to have Green be a blocker on the play. Green is a 17 year vet - he should know better at this point and I doubt any coach could have changed what his instincts were on that play.

12
by Gerry (not verified) :: Wed, 10/10/2007 - 7:25pm

I gotta say, the Buffalo Wild Wings in Fayetteville Arkansas is pretty damn optimal when it comes to watching NFL games.

The restaurant has three different table sections, that are not quite in different rooms but are walled off from each other sufficiently that they can have sound for different games in each area. Each of these eating areas has two huge wall-projection HD screens. The bar also has two wall-projection HD screens above and behind it. That means they can have up to 8 different games on big HD screens, 4 of which have sound going for the respective area. In addition, they have about 4-8 smaller TVs hanging in various locations around the big screens and on otherwise unadorned walls. When you arrive, they ask which game you are most interested in, and direct you to where it is on a big screen (if it is, and it almost always is). If you want one of the smaller TVs to be changed to another game you are interested in, they oblige.

They also have NTN trivia, Poker or QB1 going on one of the smaller TVs in each area. And they'll switch to it if requested if the one you want isn't in your area.

They don't seem to mind if you hang around long and don't buy too much-- although out of courtesy for the staff I try to make sure to occasionally order something.

The staff is mostly waitresses with an occasionally waiter. The waitresses range from hot as hell to not-too-bad.

Something like 25 different beers on tap. The prices aren't the best though.

Overall, it is pretty sweet. Loads of fun to hear the roars coming from other areas when a big play in that area's main game occurs. Even more fun when you are sitting in a section with tons of fellow fans. Sadly, I don't get that joy though my wife does. Tons of Stiller fans like her. Not too many Giants fans like me; I was badly outnumbered in that God-awful game vs. the Packers.

The wings are pretty good too.

13
by lionsbob (not verified) :: Wed, 10/10/2007 - 7:27pm

#7

I am new to the Baton Rouge area-where is this bar located? I got some friends coming into town next weekend....

14
by Grizzled Old Scout (not verified) :: Wed, 10/10/2007 - 7:30pm

Bob, it's on Bennington (off College Drive, just south of I-10), next door to the Gold Club (another advantage).

15
by Unshakable Optimist (not verified) :: Wed, 10/10/2007 - 7:30pm

Green is a 17 year vet - he should know better at this point and I doubt any coach could have changed what his instincts were on that play.

Agreed. I'll bet that Jon Gruden stressesto Jeff Garcia how imortant he is and to stop throwing his body around like he does. Scrambling is fine, but I'll bet he gets an earful every time he dives headfirst into defenders. He still does it, and he'll continue to do it because that just how he is. Similarly, I don't think there's anything Cam could've told Green that would have prevented him from reacting how he did.

16
by Gerry (not verified) :: Wed, 10/10/2007 - 7:34pm

"they have about 4-8 smaller TVs"

In each area, I meant to add. The place has upwards of 20 TVs besides the 8 big screens.

Its pure sensory overload.

17
by j (not verified) :: Wed, 10/10/2007 - 7:56pm

I'd just like to take a moment to laud Mr. Barnwell's gratuitous Mutant League Football reference. Clearly, and by a wide margin, the greatest football video game ever created. Until now, however, I thought I was alone in that belief.

18
by Yinka Double Dare (not verified) :: Wed, 10/10/2007 - 8:02pm

As much as I can't stand going out in the Wrigleyville area, particularly at night, you have to make an effort to find a bar that isn't at least a decent enough sports bar.

Last year for the OSU/Michigan game, we went to one and sat down at the bar. We ordered our first beers and were informed by the bartender (cute girl in a tight K-State shirt) that we could drink American macros on tap for $20 or any of the tap beers for $25 through the entire game. And we got there almost 2 hours before the game, so that was 6 hours of beer for $25 each. Almost felt like being in a college town again at that price, instead of being in the city of Chicago. Big projection screen right in front of us at the bar.

Of course, we went to another bar in that area to watch a Cubs playoff game and their beers were absurdly priced, so I guess you just have to find the right ones in that area. The upshot is if you are at one that's too expensive or not enough TVs or something, you can go next door on either side and odds are good that it's another bar.

19
by Independent George (not verified) :: Wed, 10/10/2007 - 8:02pm

What, no love for Guy Whimper?

20
by Patsfan (not verified) :: Wed, 10/10/2007 - 8:04pm

Optimist,

I found that exact situation on a recent trip to Raleigh-Durham. It's a bar called Blinco's, and was easily the best sports bar I've been to.

They have 2 huge rooms and a separate bar dedicated to the games. Each tv is numbered/lettered, with the schedule posted on 3 big boards when you walk in.

There are also tv's posted inside the circular bar (think the top shelf where the booze is stored) which are first come first serve and tuned to the patron's choice. There is zero excuse for not seeing the game of your choice.

Finally, they have portable speaker boxes that you can tune to the tv number of your choice. Therefore, as long as you're not too obnoxious with the volume, you can listen to pretty much any game you want without bothering people.

Needless to say, I spent my whole sunday afternoon (not to mention about 70 bucks) and was completely satisfied when i left. Thank god they don't have one here in the Northeast, or i'd be broke, dead, or both. Cheers.

21
by Peder (not verified) :: Wed, 10/10/2007 - 8:12pm

Any suggestions for a great sports bar in the Twin Cities?

22
by MJK (not verified) :: Wed, 10/10/2007 - 8:12pm

zach,

Where is this Ricky's place that you mention? I live in Livermore, and have yet to find a tolerable place to watch the Pats (I broke down this season and got Sunday Ticket, but I'm not sure if I'll have it in subsequent seasons...)

23
by Eddo (not verified) :: Wed, 10/10/2007 - 8:27pm

17 (Yinka): What is the bar you're referring to? I recently moved to Wicker Park and have yet to find a really good sports bar.
Last year I lived in Madison, WI, and being a native Chicagoan, needed somewhere to watch Bears games regularly. I would end up meeting my parents at an Old Chicago restaurant in Rockford, IL (~1-1.5 hour drive from both Madison and Chicago suburbs). It was close to ideal. There were roughly half a dozen TVs behind the bar (usually 3 showing the Bears), with another 10 or so scattered throughout the restaurant and bar areas, including a big screen (also showing the Bears). The amount of TVs allowed for just about every game to be shown.
The food was good, too. We would rarely order a meal, instead opting for a few appetizers during both the early and late games. And their chocolate chip cookie sundae dessert was excellent.

24
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 10/10/2007 - 8:47pm

I don't have cable at all, so sports bars are a second home for me during football season.

My favorite sports bar in Columbus (where I'm not at anymore) - Fitzgerald's, which is mediocre in every way except as a sports bar - actually had wireless radio receivers that you could tune to any one of the games in the place. They had reasonable food prices, and (important to me, since I can't drink) they didn't gouge you by charging by the glass for nonalcoholic stuff. Good atmosphere, great owner. Completely nondescript and the food was meh, but as a sports bar it was just about perfect.

In Honolulu, though, the only sports bar I've found so far which is worth anything is Round Table down in Waikiki. I've been to three others, and they've been entirely throwaway at this point - Legends has tiny TVs, no real food, and charges for every drink. Keep in mind this is 7 AM, so beer wouldn't be high on my list even if I could drink. I need coffee at that point, and charging me $2.50 for every cup of coffee is just asking me to leave. Irish Rose has a $10 minimum, overpriced food, charges for every drink, and doesn't have a lot of fans in any case.

Definitely weird to be waking up at 6 AM to get to the bar to watch a game, though.

25
by Brooks (not verified) :: Wed, 10/10/2007 - 8:49pm

How about Cambridge or Boston? If the Sports Depot in Allston isn't that great, are there any better alternatives?

26
by Richie (not verified) :: Wed, 10/10/2007 - 9:04pm

Loved the diagrams. FO needs more diagrams.

27
by saneiac (not verified) :: Wed, 10/10/2007 - 9:05pm

As a frequent (300+ days/year) traveller, I have seen my fair share of sports bars.

I find that the best sports bars are those located close to a military base. Seriously! First, the sports bar has to compete with the bar located on the base, which is guaranteed to have cheaper beer, so the sports bar needs perks - comfortable seating, HDTVs, good food - to bring people in. Second, they make it more fun to be a fan, because the bar patrons are coming from all over the US. No matter what team is playing, someone in the bar is there to root for them, and someone else is rooting against them. I have sat at a table of Green Bay fans, and joined in the merciless taunting of the Viking fan table, while on a job near an Army base in California. I don't think this would be possible in an average sports bar.

28
by saneiac (not verified) :: Wed, 10/10/2007 - 9:08pm

23 - Honolulu is an exception to my "sports bars are better near military bases" rule. I lived there for three years, and did not find a single decent bar to watch football in.

29
by itis (not verified) :: Wed, 10/10/2007 - 9:09pm

#21:
Ricky's is on Hesperian Blvd, more or less where it intersects E. 14th (rte185).. real close to the Bayfair BART..

I went there once.. the football coverage is unreal. The food is real. Bad. The beer is overpriced. You might want to tailgate in their p-lot first...

30
by PhillyCWC (not verified) :: Wed, 10/10/2007 - 9:16pm

"Tanier, however, noted that “if you offer half-price drinks after an Eagles-Cowboys game, someone will end up dead.�"

I'd venture to guess that if you offered half-price drinks after ANY NFC East game between the Eagles and a division opponent, someone will end up dead.

31
by dmb (not verified) :: Wed, 10/10/2007 - 9:17pm

11, 14: Yes. Thank you. I'm getting tired of Cameron being criticized for that. The play called didn't ask for Ginn to run to the sideline, fumble, then reverse field! I don't think Ginn can be faulted for wanting to make a play out of it, though. It was really Green's decision to make the block, and sadly, he payed for it.

22: Old Chicago is the usual spot for me (and my brother and dad), too. I imagine most cities have better local establishments, but it's pretty decent for a chain . . . and when you're in Bozeman, MT (pop. 35,000), that's acceptable.

32
by Carlos (not verified) :: Wed, 10/10/2007 - 9:30pm

KCW this week goes to Miami coach Cam Cameron. When your 37-year-old starting quarterback missed last year with a concussion, you want to protect him, even if it means protecting him from himself. That means making the rules very clear to said quarterback: Don’t throw a chop block on the back side of a play with your head. Cameron’s carelessness (emphasis added)

This is about one step away from TMQ "Bill Parcells is a failed human being."

You have no idea what "rules" Cam has laid out. Nor is there any basis for describing Trent's play as Cam's "carelessness."

Green is a 17 year veteran, which means he's been playing football for something like 30 years. There may be many people to blame for Trent's concussion, but Cam doesn't rank very high on that list.

Really, this comment is incredibly beneath the FO standard.

33
by JQM (not verified) :: Wed, 10/10/2007 - 9:36pm

22 (Eddo) Joe's on Weed St. shows every game and has a pretty good set up. It is also convenient from Wicker Park just head East on North Ave. until you reach Sheffield.

34
by Vote For Pedro (not verified) :: Wed, 10/10/2007 - 9:48pm

In Brooklyn, NY, 200 Fifth, located (ironically) at 200 Fifth Avenue in Brooklyn, NY, has pretty much everything described in the first half of the column (up until we started talking about recliners and fantasy waitresses). Sometimes the Coors Lite girls show up too. Just don't show up between the hours of noon and 12:15. That's Pedro's time. Don't you dare steal my seat for the 1:00pm games.

35
by pete (not verified) :: Wed, 10/10/2007 - 10:03pm

In another life, I would want to manage a sports bar. You make some good points. However when it comes to waitresses, I would gladly trade boobs for courtesy. Most of the girls at sports bars are upset that they have to put up with drunk guys who will be there for 3 hours. Most of them are girls who I would never be able to attain in the real world, because they think we are sports loving fantasy football playing dorks. we go to sports bars to forget the real world, not have it slap us in the face.

For my money, you have to love Rookies in allentown.

36
by mm (not verified) :: Wed, 10/10/2007 - 10:26pm

twin cities: there used-to-was a sports bar on top floor of THE MALL OF AMERICA (emphasis mine) which was ruinous to the eardrums, but did have every single game on. Plus foosball, air hockey, hoop shoots.

37
by Yinka Double Dare (not verified) :: Wed, 10/10/2007 - 10:39pm

23: That was Red Ivy with the drink special that day. No clue if it's a regular thing, and I wouldn't go there on a friday or saturday night, though it's a great neighborhood to go out in if you're about 22 or 23.

There aren't any really good sports bars in Wicker Park or Bucktown, but as someone mentioned, Joe's on Weed isn't far on the bus.

38
by MarkB (not verified) :: Wed, 10/10/2007 - 10:49pm

#35 - " Most of them are girls who I would never be able to attain in the real world, because they think we are sports loving fantasy football playing dorks."

But you ARE a SLFFPD, aren't you?

39
by Fnor (not verified) :: Wed, 10/10/2007 - 11:15pm

"Fortunately, I was able to sustain a IRC connection and maintain my role as king of the unofficial FO IRC channel for the week."

Pistols at dawn, Barnwell. Pistols at dawn.

40
by Eddo (not verified) :: Wed, 10/10/2007 - 11:31pm

33, 37: Thanks for the info. I've actually been both Joe's on Weed and Red Ivy, but on Friday/Saturday nights when there's no reason to care about NFL coverage :)

41
by Trieu (not verified) :: Wed, 10/10/2007 - 11:39pm

Best. Scramble. Ever.

42
by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 10/11/2007 - 12:30am

#35: I second Rookies in Allentown. That's another top-notch sports bar.

I've never had a problem with waitresses being snippy with me. Might have something to do with the fact that I'm not drunk, though.

43
by Vince Verhei :: Thu, 10/11/2007 - 12:32am

I just wanted to add that I've spent one weekend of my life in Philadelphia, and I still echo everything Mike Tanier said about cheesesteaks.

44
by Red Hedgehog (not verified) :: Thu, 10/11/2007 - 12:45am

In Salt Lake City, my sports bar of choice is usually Greene Street. Mostly because it's about two blocks from where I live. Usually, they are pretty good. They have televisions set up in a circle so if you sit in the middle of the room you can see most games. On Sundays, domestic drafts are a dollar. The food is decent, too. The biggest problem is that, given there are no local football teams here, the management decision is that what is on each television is first come, first served. So when my friends and I got to the bar about 15 minutes after kickoff last Sunday, three of the televisions there were on Seahawks/Steelers, three were on Giants/Jets, leaving only three to show other games. The waitresses are attactive, though!

45
by Red Hedgehog (not verified) :: Thu, 10/11/2007 - 12:46am

The other things that sucks is they can't get their Wi-Fi working.

46
by Marko (not verified) :: Thu, 10/11/2007 - 1:16am

Re: Ricky's: I haven't been there in a long, long time - since I went to college at Cal in the mid 1980s. But even back then, Ricky's was the gold standard for sports bars in the Bay Area. It was one of the few places that had several large satellite dishes when it was hard enough to find another bar with even one large satellite dish. Remember, this was long before the days of DirecTV and NFL Sunday Ticket.

Because it had multiple satellite dishes, Ricky's showed every NFL game every week. It was awesome. If there were no Ricky's, I would only have been able to see my beloved Chicago Bears in 1985 if they were on national TV or shown locally, meaning I would have been able to see about 5 or 6 games. Thanks to Ricky's, I was able to see every game of the glorious 1985 season.

47
by jim's apple pie (not verified) :: Thu, 10/11/2007 - 1:21am

re:25

I just moved to the Boston/Cambridge area, and I've tried out John Harvard's in Harvard Square twice. It's a thoroughly mediocre place to watch football in almost every aspect, but they have a couple of HDTV's, a few regular TV's, and some decent food and beer. They definitely don't set the station ahead of time though and the manager always seems to be scrambling to get all of the right games on. Also, the atmosphere stinks and I saw a mouse running around the floor last time. I'm definitely looking for a better place, so if any long-time Bostonians could help out I would appreciate it.

For people in Los Angeles, there is a really good bar in the South Bay called Mr. Pockets. The food is only alright, but they have a ridiculous amount of TV's, decent prices on pitchers, and pool tables.

48
by Bill Barnwell :: Thu, 10/11/2007 - 1:35am

#39 - You get it all to yourself this week, Fnor. Don't think that I won't have spies on the lookout.

#47 - Sports Depot is your best bet. John Harvard's is consistently mediocre and Sports Depot is a 10 minute bus ride away on the 66 (walk from John Harvard's onto JFK, head away from the square, then stand at the stop across the street from the Dunkin Donuts/Bank of America (on the side of the street with cars heading away from the square). Sports Depot's at the corner of, um, Harvard and Cambridge, I think.

On the other hand, John Harvard's is near Pinocchio's, and that might make up for it. Mmmm...Pinocchio's.

When I was an undergrad at Northeastern, I often ended up at the Pour House, which was pretty mediocre (no HD), but had cheap food. What area are you in specifically, jim?

49
by Nathan (not verified) :: Thu, 10/11/2007 - 1:40am

DVOA = Da Value Over Applebees.

Negative, it's worse than applebees (which is as average, and uninspiring as any place to have to watch a game.)

Positive it's better.

50
by DrObviousSo (not verified) :: Thu, 10/11/2007 - 1:45am

The east side of Cleveland has some really good bars, all within walking distance of each other at Coventry. "Pannini's" is just code for "We ripped off Permani's" (a well known Pittsburgh sportsbar chain) that's a black and gold stronghold. The Winking Lizard is usually less full, plays every game on 2 TV's in every room. McNulties has a cool set up where you can see every game from the tables in the middle.

All three have good food, and don't care how long you stay as long as you get 1 entree. The waitresses are usually 'Cleveland hot', which is to say, not, but we're used to that. The only real problem is that there's no such thing as a good Cleveland microbrew, so you're usually stuck with crappy beer.

51
by Marko (not verified) :: Thu, 10/11/2007 - 1:56am

47: I go to Mr. Pockets for preseason games to see the Bears. (I have NFL Sunday Ticket, so I watch regular season games at home.) It is very good - there are lots of TVs. Mr. Pockets gets most of the preseason games, but it doesn't get all of them (not for lack of effort). For example, this year it couldn't get the Bears-Browns preseason game. Lots of Bears, Redskins, Cowboys and Browns fans are there for the preseason games.

52
by dubier (not verified) :: Thu, 10/11/2007 - 3:28am

In the early nineties, when us L.A. folks would have to sit through the torture of Raider or Ram games if we stayed at home, the best place to see it all was downstairs at the Universal Sheraton, at a place called Telly's. All the games, hot waitresses, decent bloody marys, the usual bar fare (and yes, omelettes)...plus, once in awhile the owner of the place would be there. You got it, Telly Savales!

53
by Chad Gerson (not verified) :: Thu, 10/11/2007 - 4:44am

Bill, EXCELLENT reference to numbers stations!

As for sports bars, dig this: I live in Hong Kong, where ESPN has dropped the NFL this year (they showed one game per week in the past), leaving me with zero places to watch on television. I am forced to order Yahoo's GamePass for $300, which is Sunday Ticket delivered over the internet (not available to you in North America). It is the same quality resolution as all internet-delivered video, which is to say not good. And it does not include the playoffs, so I'll have to find some other way to watch them, if a way even exists. (It does have the advantage of archiving the games for 48 hours though, so I can watch them all live or go back and see what I want later.)

TV here BLOWS.

54
by BishopMVP (not verified) :: Thu, 10/11/2007 - 5:52am

#47/#48 - I'm not as familiar with Boston for Sports Bar purposes (going to college out at UMass means I'm rarely around during football season, and hence only go during the summer for a non sports-bar experience,) but I'll throw some suggestions out there. On the Allston/Brighton line, Sunset Bar & Grill might work out. Not sure how well they deal with TV's, but cheap, plentiful food, huge selection of beers and they don't mind you sitting around for hours. Probably doesn't fit into what you think a sports bar should feel like, but for that it might be worth it to go down to a place near Fenway. Jillian's has a lot of TV's with amazing couches in one part, but there is a lot of space full of pool tables with no TV's nearby. Cask & Flagon just added a lot of Plasma TV's. Both of those places are clearly geared more to Red Sox fans, but they've gotta do something now that it's October (or in 2 weeks I guess). The Faneuil Hall/Gov't Center area has to have some too.

Joe's American and Champions both have chains in Boston, but I've never been to either, and Joe's has a bad rep.

Just like Cheesesteaks, it seems nothing I've seen around Boston can compare to the ones I've been to around Philly unfortunately, but there are still some decent choices depending on which parts of the list you value.

55
by ABW (not verified) :: Thu, 10/11/2007 - 6:59am

If anyone knows of a bar that shows NFL games in Brisbane, Australia, preferably on tape delay, please let me know, although I doubt that such a thing exists. On the plus side, the gym I go to gets ESPN and the Monday night game is on at 10:30 AM on Tuesday here, so I got to watch my beloved Pats play at least two games, even if I have to sit on the stationary bike and move the pedals often enough to look like I'm working out while I'm watching it.

Bill, I lived in San Francisco for a while - I like the Valley Tavern on 24th street in Noe Valley for the TV setup and the usually-reliable wireless(no food though), the Phoenix on Valencia has pretty good food although not a great setup for watching lots of games, and while none stand out in my mind, there are a number of perfectly acceptable sports bars in North Beach. I think the Mad Dog in the Fog on Haight also has a bunch of TVs, although I was never there on Sundays.

56
by Podge (not verified) :: Thu, 10/11/2007 - 7:16am

#41

Nah, I think that honour still goes to the one a couple of years back comparing teams playoff chances with wrestling finishing moves. But this was good.

And #4 - what with us English being famed for politeness and all that, you can just ask if they can stick the game on for you. Most places I've been have done. The big downside is that pretty much every pub closes sometime just after half time in the late games, so you need to stumble home to pick up the 4th quarter, which is a bit gash. Still, watching NFL with a pint of bitter in hand is pretty decent.

57
by Nick (not verified) :: Thu, 10/11/2007 - 7:23am

3: If you're in London, try the Famous 3 Kings next to West Kensington tube station.

They'll be showing soccer or rugby, but they tend to have enough TV screens to show other stuff too.

58
by Bobman (not verified) :: Thu, 10/11/2007 - 7:54am

Craphonso Thorpe rules! Colts ST ranking to soar upward at least two slots by Week 17!

Okay, having helped launch the now-deceased Official All Star Cafe in Times Square about 12 years ago, I can say this about sports bars: Many TVs and high tech computer systems help, but the place needs a soul and OASC did not have it. We had two DJs in a booth and 50+ LARGE TVs ringing the main "arena" plus a 30 foot projection screen for the "big game" in a semi-private room. And an upper-deck. Plus memorabilia (anybody remember "Ted Williams brand condoms"? Gives new meaning to his nickname. I shit you not.)

Despite decent food for a mega-chain, a knowledgable staff, the place was really aimed at tourists from the flyover and was too loud to actually watch a game. The cheesesteaks were just edible, the hot sauce was better (order some extra and dip your fries!), desserts were good, and plenty of hot tourist chicks and of course a wait staff that was busy auditioning for Broadway on their breaks featured plenty of attractive women. Tip: avoid catch of the day on Saturday as it usually combined the unsold fish from the previous four days.

But....

Like Cheers, a good bar needs a soul. As Cliff Clavin might say, it's a little-known fact.

59
by andrew (not verified) :: Thu, 10/11/2007 - 8:54am

In West Palm, the "Original Steakhouse & Sports Bar" in cityplace was great except its food which was mediocre. But it shut down (guess it couldn't overcome that).

Now its just a collection of (cityname) Alehouse, most of which are acceptable for # of TVs, and the have a nice seating chart showing you which games are on where and ask you what you want to watch when they seat you.

60
by Jimmy (not verified) :: Thu, 10/11/2007 - 9:05am

Podge

I have watched some football in pubs, it is quite nice to have a Bombadier, Speckled Hen or Abbot Ale whilst watching NFL, on this I would have to agree with you.

I have also on other occasions been watching a game that the bar staff had put on for me and seen it turned over so a few gits who turn up and moan loadly enough (generally about how we watch footaball in the UK, not men in tights) can watch 20 mins of Barca annihilating some tiny provincial team and then leave. It was always just after I had ordered a beer and then had the choice of leaving it or leaving the bar.

Also where I live Superleague has quite a big following (it is beyond me why) and they schedule their 'big' games to avoid the Sunday Premiership matches. End result; 6-8.30 Superleague, 8.30-9.30 Some inordinately dull continental soccer, 9.30-10.30 NFL (mostly comprising Nick Halling incorrectly analysing, well everything).

All in all it seemed worth it to buy Sky, but now since gamepass arrived and I want to watch the Bears I need to be within range of a broadband connection. So I rarely venture out to watch football anymore.

61
by Andrew (not verified) :: Thu, 10/11/2007 - 9:12am

This week highlights whats wrong with loser league scoring and fantasy football scoring in general.

There is no way Tony Romo should not be near the low man. He only escapes because his two pick-6's are only worth -1, while his two touchdowns are worth 4 or 6 points depending on scoring. In a better system, these two things would negate each other, and we'd be left with 4 additional turnovers and 309 passing yards, for a net of 3 points, very close to Jon Kitna's goose egg.

62
by Buddy Toledo (not verified) :: Thu, 10/11/2007 - 9:14am

50
Permani's should be Primanti's.

Joe's on Weed St. is probably the best sports bar that I have ever been to. All because of one factor that was left off the list - every sports bar should have a polka band that plays the Pittsburgh Polka after every Steeler score. If there is no band, a mix cd of Steeler fight songs can fill in.

Other than a polka band, the most important thing to find in a sports bar is tons of black and gold and the majority, if not all, of the tvs tuned into the Steelers game. I've never had any trouble finding such a bar no matter what city I'm in.

A nice bonus - a pathetic Brownies bar next door, with two or three fans to harass at half time. The Penn. Ave. Pourhouse in DC, with the Hawk and Dove next door, is a good example.

My one wish for a sports bar that has never been fulfilled - a bar that has Bill and Tunch's radio broadcast synched with the game.

63
by LnGrrrR (not verified) :: Thu, 10/11/2007 - 9:15am

We had a GREAT Sports Pub here in Biloxi, across from the mall... lots of small TVs by the bar (all around it, in fact), then in the back, tables, pinball and video games, and a HUGE tv that many gathered around.

Too bad it got completely destroyed in Katrina. :(

64
by SuperBears (not verified) :: Thu, 10/11/2007 - 11:02am

For the Chicago guys looking for a sports bar you have two options. A few of the bars on lincoln in lincoln park have cheap food deals and decent TV coverage. I haven't been to Joe's for Sunday's but their college basketball and football coverage is second to none. At some tables you have the choice of two smaller televisions plus about 6 other big screens in your line of sight.

As for sound, I would suggest the NFL channel, its the best because they jump around to almost every red zone opportunity.

65
by DGL (not verified) :: Thu, 10/11/2007 - 11:08am

And anyone that calls Primantis a "sports bar chain", well, let's just say you've never been to the Strip District.

66
by P. M. (not verified) :: Thu, 10/11/2007 - 11:14am

Often a common debate with my friends, because even though we live close to Wrigleyville which does have about 20 straight sports bars, none of them really cut the mustard. Either the food sucks (Cubby Bear,) the tv situations are meh (The Ivy) or the bars are filled with loud idiots (everywhere.) This year so far we have been going to the Central, which does have nice waitresses and a brunch buffet with a guy who makes waffles.

Also looking for a Pats bar in Chicago...I've been to The Store a few times, but they have no HD.

Great article.

67
by zip (not verified) :: Thu, 10/11/2007 - 11:55am

For a coaching-based KCW award, how about Buffalo not defending the sidelines at the end of Monday night, nor calling timeout to set the play when they still had 2 remaining?

It's like Jauron was resigned to hoping they missed a long FG, instead of winning the game by tackling someone in bounds.

68
by k-rock (not verified) :: Thu, 10/11/2007 - 11:55am

Re: Twin Cities:
The bar at the Mall of America closed at least a couple of years ago. There's a Buffalo Wild Wings in Roseville with plenty of TVs, and they're usually good about switching to the game you're interested in. If you're a Steelers fan, the place to be is Tavern on the Ave (used to be Spanky's) in St Paul.

69
by scurvy (not verified) :: Thu, 10/11/2007 - 12:21pm

Gotta chime in with support for the buffett idea. Last year's AFC championship game, I went to the Harp by North Station in Boston, and they had a buffett of hamburgs, hotdogs, chicken, and lobster raviolis. They brought out the food a little after kickoff, and kept it coming throughout the game. The whole thing was free, which, I'm willing to bet was only because it was a night game and the bar knew it would make a killing on booze.

Man, I love Boston. I'm pretty sure it's a zoning regulation that you have to be able to punt a football on any corner of the city and hit either a Dunkin Donuts or a bar.

And the Pour House has HDs now. It's also a great spot to go to for the Marathon.

70
by CA (not verified) :: Thu, 10/11/2007 - 12:30pm

The only real problem is that there’s no such thing as a good Cleveland microbrew, so you’re usually stuck with crappy beer.

Great Lakes Brewing Company in Cleveland is a world-class brewery.

71
by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Thu, 10/11/2007 - 12:37pm

Re #39 (and 47)
Bendenweyr is dead, man. Get over it.Your whim no longer rules all. Ingratiate yourself to the new king, like Bill did, and maybe one day your power will return.

As for where to watch a game, nowhere can beat at home on the couch, though sooner or later I'll have the two TV set-up. Why, yes, DirecTV availability was one of my primary criteria in my last move. For watching games away from home, as a fan of generally unpopular teams, I've learned the joys of satisficing behavior.

72
by Yinka Double Dare (not verified) :: Thu, 10/11/2007 - 12:39pm

50: Great Lakes is an excellent Cleveland brewery. Back in 2002 (pretty much the last time he had such a list) Michael Jackson did a list of 10 'great American brews' for a magazine. Dortmunder Gold was on that list. Edmund Fitzgerald Porter is simply fantastic.

I went to Case -- we used to go to that Panini's on Coventry to watch games when it first opened. There was no HD back then (I mean nobody had it), but drafts were $2 for anything on tap (about 25 taps) 2-9pm, seven days a week, since they were trying to get people in the door. That was a godsend for someone on a student budget. It was also our regular happy hour place.

73
by wbenetti (not verified) :: Thu, 10/11/2007 - 12:40pm

Perhaps the FO writers who regularly spend their sunday afternoons in sports bars would be willing to host a FO reader meet-up?

Personally, I prefer my sports bars to be populated by former Superbowl goats, like Jimmy's Old Town Tavern in Herndon, VA.

74
by mactbone (not verified) :: Thu, 10/11/2007 - 12:41pm

Re 9:
On the unofficial FO IRC channel there's a guy from Brazil who will occasionally tell us what the announcers are saying. Needless to say, it's hilarious.

Re 41:
This Scramble's really good, but these comments are gems. I feel like I should (get someone else to) set up a database with all these bars as a service to fans everywhere.

75
by Kurt (not verified) :: Thu, 10/11/2007 - 12:53pm

So where are the best Philly sports bars then? I recently moved there and live in Center City, but haven't had much time to do a lot of scouting for places to watch football.

- Kurt

P.S. - The full-page ad that keeps pulling me back to the top of the article is quite annoying. :p

76
by gat (not verified) :: Thu, 10/11/2007 - 1:12pm

My pet peeve is bars that have HDTVs installed but instead of showing the HD channel, they show a horizontally stretched version of the SD channel. Happens pretty often in Boston.

77
by Peter Libero (not verified) :: Thu, 10/11/2007 - 1:18pm

Re: Buffalo Wild Wings
They're usually a very good place to see the game. Every one I've gone to has had around 20 TVs turned to any game you'd like, the food is good enough, and they do have a variety of drinks (even though people are right that their beer prices aren't fantastic). The one in Chapel Hill, NC was a second home while I was in college.

#4: SportsCafe, sadly, was a place I was forced to go often when I was living in London in spring '06. Absolutely horrible, but it was the only place I could find that would air the Panthers' playoff games since they started at like 2am there. There is one bar that specializes in the Steelers for some reason (to the point that the guy who answered the phone asked which team I was a fan of, presumably to warn me away) but even they weren't showing the late game. Sad state of affairs in Europe.

78
by Exiled in Philly (not verified) :: Thu, 10/11/2007 - 1:42pm

62 & 75

I live in Center City Philly too and there are not any great places but there are a few decent ones. The Fox & Hound is on 15th and Spruce always has Steeler games on with sound and tons of Steeler fans. They even play the occasional song.

They also have the Eagles sound on and play all of the other games but not on the big screens. The food stinks and it is really crowded so you have to go early if you want a prime seat. (The crowds tend to diminish as the Eagles season inevitably goes down the drain...)

Barristers on 18th & Sansom is also good. Less crowded and not nearly as many tvs but they will have most games on.The food is not much better.

If anyone knows some place in Philly that is good - please let me know.

79
by Al 45 (not verified) :: Thu, 10/11/2007 - 2:01pm

Re: 25 How about Cambridge or Boston? If the Sports Depot in Allston isn’t that great, are there any better alternatives?

There's a bar outside of Boston, in Milford, MA on route 16 (just off 495). It's one of the better sports bars I've been to.

First, there are 5 giant screens (10 foot diameter screens) up high that normally all carry the Patriot games on Sunday (unless there's a Red Sox game, in which case, one will have the Sox game). The audio, if the Patriots are on, is always of the Patriots game.

There are about 40+ other TV's, all of which are playing different games on Sunday's, and are appropriately labeled by the time the bar opens (noon) with which game is on that particular TV.

There's not a bevy of hot women (waitstaff), but sometimes there are some decent promotions going on (where you can get free stuff or win tickets to games).

All in all, if you want to watch a game at a bar, I think Doc's is probably one of the best places to go in the Mass/RI area.

80
by zlionsfan (not verified) :: Thu, 10/11/2007 - 2:03pm

BWW: you have to be careful. The TV attentiveness varies drastically. I've been to a few that host TV Wars: you get your server to put your game on this TV, I get mine to switch it to my game, repeat until we both leave in anger.

In general ...

TVs: Agree that HD is a must. I can watch SD at home ... if I'm in the bathroom.

The local team should be on the biggest screen; if they aren't playing, use your judgment. However, there is NO NEED to put the local team on EVERY screen. You should be able to see them from most of the bar. If you can't, the TVs are not positioned well, or you need more of them. (BWWs are notorious around here for showing the Colts on all screens.)

Don't switch a game that's out of hand unless you don't have enough TVs. If you have to, do a courtesy check - anyone still watching this? If they are, leave it.

Have Sunday Ticket. Show games from it. I can watch over-the-air games at home. (Actually, I can watch everything at home, but you know what I mean.) Red Zone channel: ideal for at least one big-screen TV.

Pregame designations for TVs are best. They eliminate TV Wars and enable you to do effective scouting.

Having said all that, if the manager doesn't do the job right, it all goes to waste. The Ale Emporium does the best job of the bars I've been to here: they've got a sheet with games, channels, and times (across all sports), and most of the managers are right there when a game ends. Conversely, the BWW in Castleton seems not to have a TV manager, which is great if you want to watch M*A*S*H reruns.

Sound should match the biggest screen/local game. Free WiFi is a requirement. What do you think this is, Starbucks?

Seating/food: I like the idea of smaller portions, but I'll eat twice if I'm staying long enough (partly because I don't drink; hate to take up a spot and not give them money for it).

Along those lines, here's the deal. I'm here for the duration. I want a seat that I can keep for both early and late games if I want. Don't hassle me or make me feel like I need to wrap things up. I'll cash out with the early server if you need me to, no problem, but if you don't want me here for seven hours, tell me now.

I would like you to drop by occasionally during those seven hours with refills. It can be a pain, I know, but I'll make it worth your while. If you've got little pitchers to spare, leave one. It'll save us both some trouble.

Game room = excellent idea. (The Ale has HDTVs in their game room as well.) I love the idea of Madden minigames during halftime and such.

As for female servers, the hotter, the better, as long as they know the ropes. (Football knowledge helpful; ability to sense important events helpful. Again, you will be compensated for this. I won't make you stand around for five minutes during an important review, just don't stand in my sight line during the game-winning kick if you can avoid it. Unless you're really hot.) Hot + knowledgeable = awesome.

81
by Brooklyn Bengal (not verified) :: Thu, 10/11/2007 - 2:27pm

There's a sports bar near Southbury, CT that has one TV per table...and you're free to change the channel to the game of your choice. The TVs aren't that great, but you really can't ask for much more than that.

Unless, of course, you're talking about Phebe's...the only NYC Bengals bar.

82
by mattymatty (not verified) :: Thu, 10/11/2007 - 2:28pm

I live in Philly and have for the past 8 years, but I'm a Redskins fan. My sportsbar of choice is The New Wave, which is on 3rd and Catharine in Bella Vista (South of South St for those unfamiliar with neighborhood names). I've been going there since I moved to Philly. The place isn't huge, so it doesn't have every single game on, and there are no flags denoting which games are going to be on which TVs, but the food is good, and the beer is excellent if a bit pricy.

The thing that makes The New Wave great however is the mix of fans that go in there on Sundays. In Philly, most bars are overrun with irritating Eagles fans (an oxymoron?) so simply finding a place which allows for disenting points of view, let alone many disenting points of view, is a breath of fresh air.

Other than that, there isn't a whole lot in Center City other than what has already been mentioned above. The place with the most TVs is definitely Fox & Hound, but its really big and loud and is often filled with extra drunken people, who I don't care to spend much time with.

There used to be a tex-mex place on South Street that had all you can eat fajitas during sunday night football, but I'm not sure if they are still doing that. I'd add that to the fantasy waitress as an item for inclusion into the ultimate sports bar.

83
by Vince Verhei :: Thu, 10/11/2007 - 3:23pm

RE: Buffets: Last year I watched the Super Bowl at a Seattle radio station party that featured an all-you-can-eat Qdoba taco/nacho bar. Now THAT was awesome.

84
by Bill Barnwell :: Thu, 10/11/2007 - 4:26pm

I dated a girl who lived in Milford for quite a while.

I would strongly advise not going to Milford unless there's nuclear fallout and Milford is the closest place that's safe from it. Otherwise, don't.

85
by Al 45 (not verified) :: Thu, 10/11/2007 - 4:33pm

Bill:

hahaha

Well, I wouldn't hold Milford against Doc's. It is quite a good sports bar.

Your objections to Milford are quite valid, and definitely noted. :-)

86
by justin (not verified) :: Thu, 10/11/2007 - 4:50pm

#83

KJR 950 AM?

ps what about us in Seattle, where to go?

87
by Buddy Toledo (not verified) :: Thu, 10/11/2007 - 5:00pm

65: If you don't think Primanti's is a chain, then you haven't been to Primanti's in Cranberry, or by the airport, or any of the many other places.

Chains have to start somewwhere.

There are lots of imitators, too. I've cheered the Steelers with fries and cole slaw on my sandwich in San Fran, often called the Pittsburgh on the coast. I can't think of the name right now.

When the Pourhouse was an all out Steelers bar, not just a clientele based Steelers bar, they had terrible Primanti brother sandwiches.

I didn't know that Fox n' Hound was a Steelers bar. I'm a little bit embarrassed by that.

88
by B (not verified) :: Thu, 10/11/2007 - 5:22pm

Wait, I thought the place to go in Milford was PUB, or for a different atmosphere, there's always CAFE. Of course, the teens prefer going to the bucket, but that's a whole different story.

89
by Sergio (not verified) :: Thu, 10/11/2007 - 5:27pm

re: sports bars.

In Mexico, there simply aren't any good sports bar that I know of. There are a few places that have, like Hooters, "a" big screen, HDTV. That's it. No multiple screen (unless it's regular def, and even then you get like 6 or 7), no hot waitresses (either too slutty or hard-looking), and the food sucks. The only place that nearly approaches this requires you go and bet on the games (not just consume).

And I do agree someone (else) should put all this info together.

90
by Bobman (not verified) :: Thu, 10/11/2007 - 5:36pm

#86 Justin,

NO freakin' idea re Seattle. I'm saddled with three young 'uns, so my sports bar days are long past, but even when single in grad school I couldn't ID any sports bars really. Once when Indy was playing Balt in 1997 I called around to a handful of area bars to see who would show it--one on The Ave north of UW did. There are a handful in the U district, Dante's comes to mind but another roughly at 42nd and Brooklyn that are surely good on Saturdays--maybe Sundays as well. I bet there are decent ones on the Eastside, but I hardly ever venture there.

I assume the ribs place on the corner south of Pioneer Square just north of the stadiums is decent--a very "sports" feel understandably, but maybe that translates to 15 screens with the Seahawks on. zzzzzzzzzzzz

91
by shocker (not verified) :: Thu, 10/11/2007 - 6:27pm

it's amazing how hard it is to find a really good sports bar.

as to the loser league, washington had a kick return td. doesn't count?

92
by buddha (not verified) :: Thu, 10/11/2007 - 6:38pm

One of the best things about living in Chicago is that there are sports bars almost everywhere in town (except foo foo Bucktown).

Joe's is my favorite. The only problem being it's gotten so big that you can't sit at the big tables up front unless there are four of you and many of the tables are reserved ahead of time. When it's just me and the wife, we'll just sit at the bar and laugh at the Lions.

93
by buddha (not verified) :: Thu, 10/11/2007 - 6:39pm

Just one correction. I do know people who go to Lotties in Bucktown to watch the NFL.

And by "NFL" I mean the Bears.

94
by Jerry (not verified) :: Thu, 10/11/2007 - 11:50pm

Re #87:

65: If you don’t think Primanti’s is a chain, then you haven’t been to Primanti’s in Cranberry, or by the airport, or any of the many other places.

Even Fort Lauderdale, IIRC.

DGL mentioned that it's not a sports bar chain. While some of the newer franchises may tend that way, the original in the Strip certainly isn't.

95
by Vince Verhei :: Fri, 10/12/2007 - 12:26am

#86: It was the KISW party, actually.

I go to Baxter's, which does have every game, so it's good enough for me. Place is kind of a dive, food is mediocre and overpriced, and it can get very crowded during Seahawks games. It's also way the hell out in Mill Creek, but I live in Bothell, so it's 10 minutes away from me.

If you're downtown, there's always FOX Sports Grill, though it's expensive. And I haven't tried SPORT, across from the Space Needle, but it's supposed to be awesome.

And I know the Ram advertises themselves as a sports bar, but I haven't tried there either.

96
by Kelly in SD (not verified) :: Fri, 10/12/2007 - 2:33am

Any ideas for San Diego? Sports Cafe in La Jolla was really good for about 7 years, but it's gone now. It was great for college football. Nebraska, Penn State, Michigan fan groups all met there at times. Every booth had their own television plus to 2 corner collections of televisions, tvs in the bar, tvs everywhere. And don't say Seau's, please.

If you are in Seattle and want a cheesesteak, you could try Tat's downtown. The place looks like hell, but the food is great, there's Eagles stuff on the walls (that's more than 5 years old) and guys sound like they're from Philadelphia.

97
by Jimmy (not verified) :: Fri, 10/12/2007 - 6:09am

#55

Have you tried the casino? I found in Australia that if you looked like you might be willing to have a bet on something they would move heaven and earth to show it to you. Also I remember watching some football in an 'Irish' bar opposite the hotel I stayed in, which was about a mile uphill from the river towards the old town square. It might just have been highlights though and the bar staff seemed pretty suprised that anyone was watching it, but left it on.

98
by mattymatty (not verified) :: Fri, 10/12/2007 - 9:42am

Fox 'n Hound isn't a Steelers bar, but they do show the games there. They also show the Redskins, Giants and pretty much every other game. The place is huge so there are usually rooting interests that develop around a single TV. Still, the place is overpriced, the food is generic and mediocre, and the atmosphere is slightly less irritating than a frathouse.

99
by bucky (not verified) :: Fri, 10/12/2007 - 10:12am

An entire article about finding a good sports bar and not a single word about the selection of beverages? Here's a pretty hard and fast rule: any halfway decent sports bar should have no fewer than 10 beers on tap, no more than 4 of which can be of the Bud/Lite/Coors variety. Local microbrews should be on tap where available.

This is a sports "bar" we're talking about, not a sports "bistro."

100
by Al 45 (not verified) :: Fri, 10/12/2007 - 11:05am

re: 99

Agree about the beer.

Funny thing about the last time I went to a sports bar. There was a promotion for Bud products (which aren't for me, as I prefer microbrews, Sam Adams, or Guiness). Anyway, one of the girls doing the promotion said if we ordered any Bud product, she'd pay for it and we'd get free T-Shirts and an extra raffle ticket for Pats tickets.

My response, "If you're paying for it, I guess I could choke down a Bud."

Amazingly, I still got it free. Ha.

101
by Chad Gerson (not verified) :: Fri, 10/12/2007 - 4:05pm

In Chicago, try the South Loop Club which is about 600 South on Wabash, catty-corner from that ministry where they tape "Unshackled!" It's not a sports bar, it's more of a very "local" hang-out, but they always have every game on at least 1 TV.

102
by itis (not verified) :: Fri, 10/12/2007 - 5:24pm

any place with a negative value over applebee's should be knocked down and replaced with a banana stand.

103
by Independent George (not verified) :: Fri, 10/12/2007 - 5:55pm

#102 - There's always money in a banana stand.

104
by Bill Barnwell :: Fri, 10/12/2007 - 6:42pm

I don't drink at the bar on Sunday morning, so no mention of the drinks, sorry.

NO TOUCHING!

105
by DelEagle (not verified) :: Sat, 10/13/2007 - 1:05am

62,65,78 - if you feel like going over by the stadiums, Chicky's & Pete's is a great place. I'm the kind of guy who automatically thought the place would be oversized, overhyped and overpriced, but it really is good. The food is excellent for bar food - try the mussels (of course the crab fries are famous), and the beer isn't too overpriced. You can get the tall towers o' beer for a decent bargain. If the Eagles are playing, great crowd. And there are usually enough good looking broads around to look at. (Although it pretty much sucked second half of the Giants game. Everyone was pretty much exhausted from the Phils wrapping it up earlier in the day and the Birds gave nobody there a reason to get the second/third wind).

106
by Boston Dan (not verified) :: Sun, 10/14/2007 - 6:32am

best DVOA based bets for today:

Arizona -5 and NE -5.5

NE, PHI, CIN in the first quarter

107
by Ben Stuplisberger (not verified) :: Sun, 11/25/2007 - 6:10pm

I live in Toledo, OH and many bars have HD TV's, but not one actually shows the games in HD, just the low resolution broadcast on a really nice TV. Why spend a couple grand on a nice television to show pixilated images? How much more expensive could it be to show the HD broadcast?