He Trekked 26,149 Miles to See 32 NFL Teams in 16 Weeks

He Trekked 26,149 Miles to See 32 NFL Teams in 16 Weeks

It’s the last word tailgating expertise. Rhett’s ardour led him to observe his dream, write a ebook & produce a documentary. Why his eyes are set on doing it another time together with his 12-year previous son to encourage greatness in life. Hold studying to see what he realized about individuals as he traveled throughout the U.S. in a beat-up VW bus…


When Rhett Grametbauer spent afternoons together with his grandmother as a toddler, he clipped photographs of soccer gamers from the newspaper. The scrapbook, which he nonetheless has, is a collage of pro-action pictures speckled together with his ink doodles of gamers donning star-emblazoned helmets.


The Texan grew into an grownup superfan who dreamed of seeing each NFL workforce compete in a single season. He set a deadline of seeing all 32 NFL groups, in 31 stadiums, earlier than the deconstruction of San Francisco’s Candlestick Park and the Minneapolis Metrodome.


In 2013, the 45-year-old promoting skilled from Hutto, Texas made his dream come true with two buddies by his facet, behind the wheel of a VW bus. In 2019, he’s planning on doing it once more — together with his 12-year-old son, in the hunt for baseball.



“I’ve been a sports activities fan my total life, and grew up in what I think about to be the golden period of the NFL. The stadiums and gamers have been bigger than life to me rising up, and I needed to see as many of those previous stadiums as I may,” explains Grametbauer.


The primary journey resulted in a movie and ebook. This time, Grametbauer will movie a documentary together with his tween sidekick, Roman, in assist of the Play Catch Basis, which focuses on bettering the welfare of kids by the sport of catch.


“I initially took this journey to encourage my son to do nice issues in his life,” Grametbauer says. “I believed he would see that if his father might be on NFL Movies Presents, write a ebook, produce a documentary, be featured within the Wall Avenue Journal, Sports activities Illustrated and others, that he may do something he needed in life.


“I realized a lot from the journey away from soccer,” Grametbauer notes. “I need that very same expertise for my son. I need him to see individuals not as a race, gender or something bodily, however as a human being. I additionally need him to see the world.”


From Scrapbooks to Stadiums


The primary journey was additionally impressed by a 2011 go to to Tremendous Bowl XLV in Dallas, the place Grametbauer met the late Steve Sabol, co-founder of NFL Movies. Grametbauer determined he too might be a storyteller.


What adopted was a whirlwind journey involving a sequence of candid interviews with energetic soccer followers, breathtaking eagle-eye stadium pictures, and lots of, many scenes of a broken-down bus all captured in a ebook and companion documentary, 25,000 Miles to Glory, from NFL Movies.


His buddies Grayson Berry and Eric Carpenter signed on, and the trio launched into a 16-week journey in a four-speed handbook transmission 1967 Volkswagen bus that hardly topped out at 60 mph downhill, bought off Craigslist for $9,500. They dubbed their classic, unreliable trip the Hail Mary, just like the well-known soccer slang for a last-ditch move.


“To get wherever in a VW bus, prayer is at all times a good suggestion,” he says.


The Hail Mary is presently present process a restoration full with recent paint, safari home windows, new chrome, up to date upholstery and extra earlier than logging extra miles within the fall of 2019.


The Final Tailgating Expertise


In April of 2013, when the 2013-2014 NFL schedule dropped, Grametbauer mapped out the street journey throughout 34 states. The trek was initially deliberate for 17 weeks, however was shortly altered when the boys realized hauling from Seattle to Dallas in late December wasn’t possible (thanks, winter). The brand new plan wasn’t straightforward — it concerned Miami to Dallas to Inexperienced Bay.


“That was over 1,200 miles in a single night time, which is tough to do at 60 mph,” Grametbauer remembers. “The primary month and a half on the street I stored pondering that this could by no means work out. I simply stored pondering one thing would occur the place we wouldn’t end the challenge and it might by no means make it to tv.”


The liberty of the open street and understanding a group of football-loving buddies ready in every metropolis helped push by the lengthy drives. He says his favourite a part of tailgating is assembly new individuals, and speaking soccer whereas ingesting chilly beer and consuming good meals.


“It was nice to satisfy so many really exceptional individuals who shared the identical sports activities reminiscences as I did, however maybe residing it by the lens of the opposite workforce. The losses for my workforce didn’t appear so unhealthy once you noticed how these moments meant a lot to different individuals, ” Grametbauer shares.


And, after all there have been a number of pigskin tosses with buddies alongside the best way that impressed his new profession path with the Play Catch Basis.


“There was at all times a soccer concerned. I took it with me to play catch on the Grand Canyon, Golden Gate Bridge, St. Louis Arch, Caesar’s Palace, the seaside in San Diego,” notes Grametbauer.


A Peek at Life on the Highway


He says an RV fitted with a Sleep Quantity mattress would have been extra snug, however as a substitute, many nights have been spent curled up on the grimey seats of the bus, surrounded by the aroma of gasoline and musty, moist carpet.


“I did have numerous buddies who supplied a sofa after I was on the town,” Grametbauer says. “I took benefit of these provides as a lot as potential.”


The temper of the journey shifted when the vacationers discovered Hammer’s Lot, a well-liked tailgating location in New York, that overtly welcomed the crew.


“I slept outdoors, throughout from the stadium, and awakened on the morning time to the sound of individuals beginning to tailgate,” Grametbauer recollects. “For the primary time I really believed that this could work out.”


With a brand new confidence, the crew breezed by extra bus troubles, together with three situations of malfunctioning brakes.


“I by no means doubted the journey or myself once more,” Grametbauer states.


Within the documentary movie, followers share heartwarming tales of weekend household traditions revolving round outings to the stadiums, the sense of group amongst followers and loyalty to the sport-loving cities they name house.


The influence of the 2013 journey gave Grametbauer a brand new perspective. Regardless of the breakdowns and detours, it’s important to take pleasure in life, share it with others and pursue your goals, he believes.


In 2019, he’ll be again on the street, this time with baseball on his thoughts.


“The journey isn’t about going to each Main League Baseball stadium, however going to locations which are on the coronary heart of baseball, assembly individuals, enjoying catch, and noticing how we’re all related,” he notes.


“It’s tough to elucidate, and if I hadn’t already lived the expertise I wouldn’t really perceive it both,” Grametbauer says. “Folks on this planet want buddies possibly now greater than ever, and I consider this may be finished with a VW bus and enjoying catch.”


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