The year 2021, the date Sunday January 10, the venue the Budweiser Wembley Stadium, London, England…….
LONDON JAGUARS ROAR INTO DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS WITH O/T WIN AGAINST THE DOLPHINS
by Lawrence Vos reporting from London
THIRTY years ago the London Monarchs won the inaugural World Bowl in front of 61,108 fans inside Wembley Stadium.
Fourteen years ago the NFL packaged two teams to play the first ever regular season NFL game in Europe in front of 81,176 fans inside Wembley Stadium.
Tonight the NFL’s first ever non-North American based franchise, the London Jaguars, played and won their first ever Wild Card playoff contest in front of 87,263 fans inside Wembley Stadium.
History was made when seven year veteran quarterback A.J. McCarron led the Jaguars through the wind and rain of North London on an eleven play touchdown drive, climaxing in a three-yard dive into the end-zone from fellow draft class of 2014 team-mate Melvin Gordon.
The mud-splattered ball that crossed the goal-line in Gordon’s right hand was found on the sideline, and within days it will be flown first-class to Canton, Ohio to sit proudly in a perspex cabinet in one of the modern era wings of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The 26-20 win against the visiting Miami Dolphins will go down in football folklore as the first post-season win for an NFL franchise based outside the United States of America.
Before uprooting wholesale from Jacksonville, Florida, to the London Borough of Brent (just 12 months ago) the Jaguars had already etched their name into some significant post-season history books, as they, along with the Carolina Panthers, reached their respective Conference Championships just two seasons after inception.
The Jaguars lost to the New England Patriots in the 1997 AFC Championship game. 24 years later and the Jaguars again travel to Massachusetts to face the three-time Super Bowl winners, this time two games away from competing for the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
Said McCarron after prizing his grass-stained Gold and Teal helmet from his steaming but beaming head: “The fans kept us going in overtime, the noise was awesome, and I hope that they are already making travel plans for our game against the Patriots next week.”
……I could go on but hopefully you get the gist.
I think this my small curtain twitch into the future is going to be more than just a dream. There is no way the NFL goes from one to three regular season NFL games in the same season in the same city without some sort of master plan to move one of the current 32 franchises, lock, stock and smoking barrel from the land of Uncle Sam to the land of Auntie Beeb.
I have it fixed in my head that in 2020 the Jacksonville Jaguars will move to their new home across the pond and become known to the world as the London Jaguars.
There will be uproar (loud animal sounding pun intended) as Roger Goodell announces in the 2015 NFL AGM that the five-year plan to get an NFL franchise in London begins with immediate effect.
No doubt opinion will be divided in terms of this decision – ranging from being for the good of the NFL’s plan to take over the world to the other extreme that the state of the average Englishman’s teeth being that shoddy that players will not want to move continents to potentially risk dental hygiene distress.
No doubt the President and our Prime Minister will be involved in terms of the mainstream media’s desire to get non-sporting column inches filled with this story between now and 2020, but I don’t think any misquote or inappropriate audible by a political head of state will derail this particular locomotive.
Money talks, and there is no way that three NFL teams are giving up a home game in 2014 without being told that this is a long-term money spinner.
I think that moving a team over here, but keeping their original NFL nickname and identity, will be the level of compromise that will keep the Jaguars owner Shahid Khan happy.
Now all I have to do is get Mr Khan to confirm all of the above, for him to offer me a job on the communications staff of the London Jaguars and for me to persuade my wife to move the family to London.
Hell, if you don’t shoot for the stars then you end up shooting in the dark.
Everyone attending the Jaguars first ‘unofficial’ home game at Wembley Stadium tomorrow I hope you all witness a competitive and heartwarming game, and that most importantly you have a safe journey home.
It’s anticipated that there is a storm brewing over England on Sunday. If we end up with the Jaguars moving permanently to London in 2020, it could be the longest storm in North American sports history.
Bring on the thunder and lightning tomorrow (and I’m not talking about the resurrection of Ron Dayne and Tiki Barber).