The Washington Commanders open the new season on September 11 with a highly-anticipated game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at FedEx Field, and you can bet that “Tailgate” Ted Abela, long considered one of the team’s most avid fans, will be on hand as he always is.
Having tailgated at the team’s games for more than 20 years, the die-hard fan serves as executive chef for the Hail BBQ Crew, deriving a unique menu each week based upon the cuisine of the visiting team, for 150 to 200 people. He asks for donations, and all profits go towards local charities.
“I change it up each week depending on what team’s coming to town; for instance, when the Patriots are in town, we have fresh lobster rolls,” Abela says.
A season ticketholder since 2001, Abela is more than just your average fan, he is considered an expert on the team and has been called upon by FOX 5 and Redskins Nation on NBC Sports Washington to express his opinions. Tailgate Ted has also been inducted into the Pro Football Ultimate Fan Association in Canton, Ohio, an honor all sports fans aspire to.
Together, the duo dissects all things related to the team. For instance, in their latest podcast, Tailgate Ted and The Rally Captain discussed Sam Mills being let go, Carson Wentz’s early struggles during camp and what they expect for the upcoming season.
Abela has been a life-long fan, with some of his earliest memories being watching Redskins games with his dad in the ’80s and ’90s. His dad was on the waitlist for season tickets for what seemed like forever, and they finally came through in 2001, and he hasn’t missed a game since.
Like most sports fans, he has numerous favorite moments from his team, citing Troy Vincent blocking Vanderjagt’s kick in 2006 to help beat the Cowboys as one of his tops.
As those who listen to him know, Abela is not afraid to share an unpopular opinion, because he is about speaking the truth, and not just being a “homer.”
For example, though many fans were angered by the name change, he knows it was time and understood why it was a necessary move by the team.
After Covid-19 resulted in his weekly segment on Redskins Nation ending, Tailgate Ted started his podcast.
“With the advent of Zoom and other platforms out there, it made it easier to host a podcast,” he says. “I finally found someone I wanted to do this with, so I thought it was time for a rebrand, and just wanted to give it a go.”
Abela chose The Rally Captain as his partner because he felt his opinion and voice was important and he had his own strong following as a Commanders fan.
“Frankly, we have contrasting opinions,” Tailgate Ted says. “He has a glass-half-full mentality and my glass is pretty much empty after all these years of abuse, so I wanted to find someone with a different point of view. Rally travels to all the games throughout the season and has a great pulse on the fan base.”
Each podcast will find the two talking about what fans are curious about, not necessarily breaking down film.
The Rally Captain has been a fan of the team since Doug Williams led them to a win at Super Bowl XXII in 1998.
“Our podcast gives fans an up-close perspective of what true fans think, versus what the so-called media thinks,” he says. “We’re talking to fans daily, really hourly, on social media. That helps us with the rundown of what we will be talking about.”
The duo has had a few guests already and hopes to see more former players and experts of the team stopping by to join the podcast.
“Once the season starts, the idea is to have former players on and maybe even existing players, to talk about what fans might find interesting,” Abela says.
Looking at the upcoming season, The Rally Captain calls the Commanders a “work in progress.”
“I feel that we have the pieces of the puzzle and they are starting to come together, but until we can see them against another jersey color, we won’t know,” The Rally Captain says.
Tailgate Ted agrees with the assessment but is a little more skeptical.
“I know Las Vegas has the team at 7.5 wins, and I see them getting around 8,” Abela says. “If Carson wants to succeed, he needs to do it now, and I’m learning that it might be too much pressure on him. But we have a much easier schedule on paper than they did last year, so logic will tell you they should win more than last year. But it all depends on if Wentz can be the quarterback we all need him to be.”
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