Archive for October, 2009

The three pre-game acts for the NFL International game in London between the Patriots and the Buccaneers were to say the least unable to float my boat.

Calvin Harris may have got all the girls, but I can name about 100 acts I would rather have seen do the pre-game musical extravaganza. Someone like The Killers, Kings of Leon or even some Kanye West or a bit of boom boom pow from the Black Eyed Peas. 

Toni Braxton (blast from the past) did the USA national anthem, but it was not that memorable, and Katherine Jenkins suitably warbled through God Save the Queen.

Not that I could see him very well but it was Welsh Boxing world champion Joe Calzaghe who was the Tampa Bay honorary captain who was involved in the coin toss.

We were now just minutes from kickoff…..

DSC08864

Calvin Harris strutted his stuff at Wembley prior to the NFL game

 

DSC08875

Some military people unfurled this giant Buccs flag - it looked great

DSC08863

My wife and I were concerened the Tampa Bay Buccanners cheerleaders were all going back to Florida with colds

 

DSC08893

Wearing a #1 Buccs shirt boxer Joe Calzaghe helped with the coin toss - joined by the team captains

After adjusting to the sensory experience of the marvels of Wembley Stadium it was time to spot the players from the New England Patriots and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers warming up for this regular season NFL game in London.

As is the tradition at all NFL games it is the kickers, punters, long snappers, holders and then the kick and punt returners that take the field first, and Wembley was no exception. It was quite fun to see Steven Gotskowski warm up, but I have to admit it wasn’t what I really wanted to see.

That sight came after the offensive teams hit the field to warm up, and a giant cheer warmed the stadium as the starters began to remove the travel cobwebs and get the blood pumping through their masculine North American shoulders.

It was then, through my zoom lens, that I spotted the most famous NFL player of the last 10 years, two time Superbowl MVP, three time Superbowl winner and four time Superbowl starting quarterback for the New England Patriots – Mr Tom Brady. It was worth the ticket fee alone just to say ‘I was there when Tom Brady came to England’.

DSC08817

Tom 'the second coming' Brady warms up at Wembley Stadium, London

DSC08850

#83 Wes Welker looks on as Tom Brady drops back to pass

DSC08826

#81 Randy Moss chills out with Brady before the game in London

DSC08853

Patriots offense v Patriots defense in Wembley warm-ups

With seats purchased in section 522 at Wembley Stadium, and my personal but irrational fear of heights, I had to stare at some random blokes arse in front of me as I ascended escalator after escalator before arriving at the entrance to the seated area.

Arriving and finding that I was 24 rows up from the small window into the Stadium I decided that I would do the typical tourist thing and just gawp in awe of the 85,000 seats in front of me, the holy Wembley Stadium grass resplendent in its new gridiron shaped map, complete with two stunning painted end zones, depicting the New England Patriots and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers official NFL typeface. I love seeing the NFL logo on the 50 yard  line.

DSC08803

There is nothing like Wembley Stadium after an NFL makeover

 

DSC08804

Each endzone at Wembley had huge inflatable helmets - I was nearest the Tampa Bay side of the field

DSC08798

Unfortunately I had to wear a Jason Campbell top at Wembley - thanks to the security man for taking my pic

 

Following the rather hurried trip past the Superbowl rings last Sunday inside the Hall of Fame tent at Wembley Stadium my wife and I then were handed some 3D glasses and proceeded to be seated in amongst approximately 500 seats layed out cinema style.

The NFL were showing off some of their 3D footage, including a regular season game between the Oakland Raiders and the San Diego Chargers, plus some clips of the New England Patriots Superbowl win over the Carolina Panthers.

To see Jamarcus Russell throw an interception from 10 different angles in 3D was strangely hypnotizing, and jaw droppingly amazing at the same time.

Following this performance we went back to the NFL tents for one last look at the NFL merchandise prizes available.

Below are some of the other signed items available to win, donated by NFL teams this season…

DSC08782

Carolina Panther QB Jake Delhomme may be having a torrid season but at least he donated a signed shirt

 

DSC08763

Philadelphia Eagles shutdown CB Asante Samuel signed his shirt too

DSC08760

#1 overall pick in 2009 NFL Draft - Detroit Lions Matthew Stafford signed one of his balls

DSC08734

#1 pick in the 2008 NFL draft Miami Dolphins OT Jake Long has a very small signature for such a big person

DSC08738

Baltimore Ravens stud safety Ed Reed signed this ball

DSC08789

After seeing all those ace items it was time to get inside Wembley Stadium for some live NFL football

I had already seen the jerseys and boots worn by some of the most incredible and unforgettable players in NFL history, and my jaw had hit the floor after I was about a metre away from the goddamn Superbowl trophy.

Couldn’t get any better right? Yes it could. The most untidy queue I had ever been part of wound its way around the Hall of Fame tent outside Wembley stadium to none other than a winners ring from every Superbowl ever played.

Despite being rushed through the exhibit and told I could not take any photographs I put my camera lens on close up focus and tried to snap as many rings as I could in about 30 seconds. The results were varied to say the least but I did manage to get some absolute crackers.

If you are reading this blog and I capture one of your team’s Superbowl rings I hope they bring a smile to your face….

Superbowl XLI

Superbowl 41 ring - won by Indianapolis Colts

Superbowl XLIII

This special Superbowl ring celebrates the Pittsburgh Steelers six wins, including earlier this year with this ring

Superbowl XVII

One for all you Washington Redskins fans the ring from their first Superbowl victory in 1983

Superbowl XXXIII

John Elway led the Denver Broncos to their second Superbowl in 1999 - this is the ring he won

Superbowl III

Joe Namath guaranteed this Superbowl win for the New York Jets in the 60s

Superbowl XXXV

This is a Baltimore Ravens Superbowl ring won in 2001

Superbowl XXXIV

Kurt Warner led the St Louis Rams to this Superbowl ring in 2000

One day my wife and I will go to a Superbowl, but until then we will huddle round the tv in the living room with bottles of Budweiser, toffee popcorn, Doritos and dips, Peanut M&Ms and some Diet Pepsi just a metre away.

I have to admit that I did not think the NFL would actually trust the Great British public by bringing a real Superbowl trophy to the NFL International game in London last Sunday.

Well I was as wrong as Janet Jackson’s nipple jewellery as the NFL, with some help from a couple of not very burly minders, let the NFL tailgate party fans get within one metre of the Vince Lombardi trophy.

Seeing the shiny silver accolade, the dream realised, the ultimate prize, the single reason any man puts on pads in the NFL right in front of my very eyes was truly humbling.

Whilst I will never be able to lift the trophy above my head after 60 minutes of football, getting this close was a very special occasion, and one I will never forget.

Shall I try to grab the Superbowl trophy and make a dash for it?

DSC08647

I'm sure Vince Lombardi is perplexed that his trophy was in London

Now the NFL promised to bring a Superbowl trophy to Wembley to be at the official tailgate party. A real gleaming Vince Lombardi Trophy. Now both my wife and I thought that the NFL would conveniently forget to pack the shiny silver mounted ball, and instead bring a giant cardboard version.

We queued up outside the Hall of Fame tent and after just about ten minutes we were shuffled into a crowded room. Inside were some of the most incredible NFL exhibits you are ever gonna clamp your eyes upon.

Items on display included the shirt Brett Favre wore when he broke the NFL passing record, the fake foot/boot Tom Dempsey wore when he originally set the record for the longest NFL field goal, a helmet worn by John Elway, a shirt from AFL 1960s San Diego Chargers legend Lance ‘Bambi’ Alworth, and a shirt worn by Baltimore Colts god Johnny Unitas.

Normally you have to go all the way to Canton, Ohio to see such amazing sights so thumbs up to the NFL – WOW.

Ill let the pictures do the talking here, as my words will not do justice to these unbelievable pieces of history.

DSC08637

This was the shirt worn by Peyton Manning as a rookie

 

 

 
 
DSC08680

He winds me up but Brett Favre broke the NFL passing record in this shirt

 

 
 
 
DSC08659

This weird black object is the boot that kicked a 63 yard field goal for Tom Dempsey

 

 

 
 
 
DSC08653

Good to see an old skool John Elway Denver Broncos helmet

 

 

DSC08656

I was quite emotional seeing a shirt worn by Baltimore Colts legend Johnny Unitas