I’m home, and watching a rom-com with my wife, all in all a very relaxing day. Time I thought to put on my NFL goggles and reminisce about the past decade. Someone pass the dry roasted peanuts please.
1) THE REAL NFL COMES TO ENGLAND IN 2007
It was a dream that I had since I first watched highlights of the Washington Redskins v Dallas Cowboys in 1985, getting to see real NFL football that mattered over here in England.
Guess I didn’t know back then that the NFL had already sent the St Louis Cardinals and the Minnesota Vikings to Wembley in 1983 to play a preseason game.
Now I was too young (and didn’t have enough pocket-money saved up) to go and see the Chicago Bears play the Dallas Cowboys (1986) or the Los Angeles Rams battle the Denver Broncos (1987) in preseason games in London, but I did make up for it.
From 1988 to 1993 I went to every NFL preseason game in London, watching the likes of the Miami Dolphins, San Francisco 49ers, Philadelphia Eagles, Buffalo Bills, Dallas Cowboys and even the Detroit Lions.
It was incredible fun (even though back then the NFL organisers had no bloody clue what an NFL tailgate party is) to see real NFL superstars play in front of me, even if it was only for a quarter or even in some cases a single sustained drive.
By the time we got to 1993 I was one of thousands of now quite educated NFL fans who found it a bit insulting to fly the likes of Troy Aikman and Barry Sanders over to London only to see them suit up for 5 minutes and then watch them spend the rest of the game eating sunflower seeds in jeans and t-shirts.
This must have got back to the NFL who pulled the trips over the pond, and instead focussed on other parts of the world, including Japan, Mexico, Canada and Australia.
Fast forward over a decade and we still have no further NFL games in England, but the rumours began after Roger Goodell becomes the NFL Commissioner in 2006, replacing the steady but not so ‘blue sky thinking’ commish Paul Tagliabue.
When it was announced at the end of 2006 that a REAL regular season NFL game was going to be played at Wembley Stadium I was more excited than Tiger Woods with a free VIP all access ticket to the Playboy Mansion.
Yes the game between the New York Giants and the Miami Dolphins actually sucked. Primarily this was due to the godawful weather in London in late October, but we also had to witness the Dolphins trying to win a game with the legendary Cleo Lemon behind center (sorry Cleo I love you really).
The score really didn’t matter, nor did the quality of the gameplanning or execution of the plays, the fact we had an NFL contest that actually contributed to the storied history of the league was all that mattered.
Ted Ginn Jr’s first NFL touchdown will forever be frozen in time in the memory bank of each and every fan that was there at the game.
I for one will never forget the humongous Jason Taylor animatronics robot, nor the way the Giants and the Dolphins tore the hallowed Wembley turf to shreds, nor will I forget that each run, each tackle, each kick and each pass will be entered for real into the NFL Record and Fact book forever more.
Roger Goodell you did all of the UK and European fans of the NFL proud, and to boot the winning team from the 2007 game, the New York Giants, went on to win the Superbowl with a late late Eli Manning touchdown.
Two further games down the line and it looks like the NFL will have TWO regular season games in the UK in 2010.
Can’t wait !