There's nothing quite like an NFL Sunday. Because there are only eight home games a year, each becomes a mini-holiday of tailgating, partying and cheering.
In the course of covering the Washington Redskins, I've now been to all 31 NFL stadiums. Before the game, I like to walk around the concourses and soak in the atmosphere, checking out what's unique, and what's good and bad, in each city. The only logical thing to do now is to rank them. This list has no discernible logic - it's my opinion, plan and simple. With that, let's go...
1) Green Bay Packers - Lambeau Field
Renovations and additions over the past decade have only added to what makes this place special. Being in the middle of a neighborhood in a small town makes this one of the few remaining places to truly see the history of American sports.
Fun fact about Lambeau Field
The visiting locker room is located up a flight of stairs and down a narrow hallway. Home-field advantage takes many forms in Green Bay.
2) Dallas Cowboys - AT&T Stadium
Everything Lambeau is to the sport's history, JerryWorld is to its future. This was the first of the "destination stadiums," and it's still held up as the best.
Fun fact: If you've got the right connections, you can sit in Jerry's suite and play Madden on the giant video board.
9) Los Angeles Chargers - Dignity Health Sports Park
The tiny size is its best asset. The weather is always great here, and you can see/hear/feel the game in a way you can't elsewhere. In the future, I think there will be more stadiums at this size.
10) New Orleans Saints - Mercedes-Benz Superdome
This is, by far, the shoddiest of the stadiums in the top tiers. The concourses are too small and the concessions aren't very good. But it makes up for that by being in the right city with the right fanbase. (Pictured: I didn't have the best view, but I'm still pretty sure Danny Coale caught it.)
12) Arizona Cardinals - State Farm Stadium
One of the original "new stadiums." This is the one NFL owners came to and then decided they needed a new one too. It gets dinged for location (it's way outside Phoenix) but has held up very well, and produces a great game-day atmosphere. Has played host to more than its fair share of big moments.
(Bonus) Wembley Stadium, London
For a long time, the host of all NFL games in England (the new Tottenham stadium is now hosting many of them as well). Wembley does a great job at creating a "big event" feel - you get the sense you're about to see something important happen.
13) Indianapolis Colts - Lucas Oil Stadium
This next tier consists of stadiums that are all lovely places to watch an NFL game but not "special." Indy has a fun downtown and the city rallies around the team, pushing it to the top of the tier.
14) Houston Texans - NRG Stadium
Much like Lucas Oil, a dome built recently enough to be comfortable and a great experience, but not recently enough to be a can't-miss architectural wonder. Got to cover VCU in the Final Four here - still one of the more amazing stories I've seen.
15) Carolina Panthers - Bank of America Stadium
A very solid outdoor stadium, built into the heart of the city. Sight lines are good and the amenities are strong. Bonus points for having a natural-grass field. (Pictured: It's the only stadium I've seen that gives NASCAR updates)
17) Miami Dolphins - Hard Rock Stadium
It got a big, and much-needed, renovation recently, to remove all the traces of baseball. The concourses have fantastic food options, and are filled with murals by local artists, a great touch.
20) Philadelphia Eagles - Lincoln Financial Field
Great access for fans via train or right off of I-95. Good sightlines throughout the stadium. The bad: It's usually filled with sports fans from Philadelphia.
24) Tennessee Titans - Nissan Stadium
The problem with ranking NFL stadiums is you get a perfectly good stadium like this one in the No. 24 spot, which implies bad things. There are no bad things about being in Nashville, and the stadium is just fine.
30) Washington Redskins - FedEx Field
In the interest of fairness, it is important to note that Dan Snyder did not own the team when FedEx Field was constructed. But it sure does feel like the perfect symbol of the Redskins over the last two decades.
31) Oakland Raiders - RingCentral Coliseum
The last of the football/baseball shared stadiums. The sightlines are bad, the concourses are dated, and the parking lot smells like weed. Oakland deserves an NFL team, but it also deserves better than this stadium.