Did you ever want to just throw your belongings in a bus and drive to every NFL stadium in the country? Sounds like a bucket list trip of a lifetime, and Rhett Grametbauer did it. As he says in the beginning of his documentary film, 25,000 Miles to Glory, he just got tired saying “Wouldn’t it be great if…” and he just decided that it was time to live out his dream.
As someone who couldn’t wait to step on Lambeau Field — that was my bucket list dream — I had to watch this movie. I love people who go out and make their dreams come true.
It also reminds me of when I was co-hosting Sports Palooza Radio and had the opportunity to talk to Mac Engel about his book Pigskin Rapture. Mac talked to us about his trip to see four football games in Texas in four days. Pigskin Rapture: Four Days in the Life of Texas Football captures not just the action on the field, but all of the the sights, sounds, and smells of a state smitten with football: from K-D’s Barbecue in Midland, to the rarefied air of Cowboys owner Jerry Jones’s private box in AT & T Stadium.
Grametbauer takes this idea much, much further. He drove his 1967 VW Bus, “Hail Mary” to all 31 NFL stadiums in 16 weeks to meet the fans and decide what makes them ‘tick.”
25,000 Miles to Glory is a fun documentary and you’ll get the feeling that you just want to jump right in the van and join them (what football fan wouldn’t?!).
Don’t think that this is a documentary about some rich dude who blew his inheritance on a trip of a lifetime. Sometimes he and his friends literally slept in the van because they didn’t have a place to stay. He didn’t just stop at each stadium, see a game and move forward. He talked to fans at every stadium, including Donald “Dapper Bon” Bartz, a well-known Buffalo Bills Fan as well as Bills’ fan “Pinto Ron” and New York Giants’ fan Joe “License Plate Guy” Ruback.” He got to know each team’s fandom at the tailgating parties. It’s awesome hearing the stories about the fans and their craziness for their team.
When we went to Lambeau, we had the best time hanging out in the parking lot with the New York Giants fans too, so I totally get this.
Grametbauer meets up with other fans who have done the sports fan road trip, including four New York Jets fans — Anthony Mills, Angelo Fiouris, Mike Deissig and Paul Kulciochetto — who met each other on Craigslist for a football road trip to the 2009 AFC Championship Game in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Of course, I think he didn’t profile Lambeau Field and the Packers’ fans as long as he could have, but I’m biased. LOL But it is true that Green Bay, Wisconsin revolves around the Packers’ games.
The journey wasn’t without its troubles, with a broken down Volkswagen (actually a few times) and hitting seriously cold weather in Minnesota, but they didn’t stop. In his book, he writes:
Before buying Hail Mary (the car) I was clinging to a monotonous, regimented, mundane existence of being relegated to a nobody. My uninspired life was not what I had signed up for or dreamed about as a child, and I was determined more than ever to do something substantial with my life; to make something happen and to fulfill those promises and dreams I had as a child.”
(This was written when the car had no brakes and was careening down a hill, out of control.)
25,000 Miles to Glory premiered at the Palace Theater in Canton, Ohio during Hall of Fame weekend and was released on VOD platforms like iTunes, Google Play, Amazon, Vudu, Playstation, Verizon and other VOD platforms.
Grametbauer has also written a book about the experience, also entitled 25,000 Miles to Glory, that has sold out twice on Amazon. He also started Foam Finger Nation to help dislocated sports fans find other fans of their favorite teams around the world. It is designed to give sports fans a medium to exchange fan experiences, road trip reviews and recommendations with each other.
You can learn more about Rhett at his website, www.RhettGrametbauer.com.
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