Archive for the ‘Chicago Bears’ Category

Anyone following North American sport cannot fail to acknowledge the NCAA College basketball tournament, where it is all about surviving in order to move on.

Unlike the debacle that is the current NCAA College football post-season, the basketball post-season is at least simple to follow. It is a simple knockout tournament. You win you stay alive. You keep winning you get to the ‘final four’ and then a chance to lift the shiny trophy.

The NFL have tried to capitalise on this wave of ‘bracketology’ discussions by launching their own knockout competition to decide the greatest ever NFL play.

With the parallel timing of the ‘final four’ NFL plays and the ‘final-four’ NCAA College Basketball games it’s all about getting to the final this weekend.

I am a little saddened that the final four NFL plays are dominated by modern-day plays; Marshawn Lynch running ‘beast-mode’ (2011); DeSean Jackson’s game winning punt-return touchdown (2010); Troy Polamalu’s ‘over-the-top’ tackle (2010). The remaining play is from 1988, Steve Young’s insane run through the entire Minnesota Vikings defense, and it is without doubt the best of the four (in my eyes).

If I had it my way I would have made the top 64 plays far more eclectic, with one play from every year over the last 64 seasons.

So where would I go with my top plays of all time? It’s a tough call and I don’t know the order quite yet, but here I go with some of my personal favourites…

  • Leonard Marshall forcing a fumble by Joe Montana in the 1991 NFC Championship game. I was 17 at the time and thought Joe Montana was invincible. That single play knocked the stuffing out of ‘Joe Cool’ and it was five Giants field-goals that gave the visiting team the win.
  • Darrell Green’s punt-return in the 1987 Divisional playoffs. Withe the scores tied 14-14 and a minus 10 wind-chill factor Green picked up a punt around midfield and ran it back for a score. Green had been playing cornerback all game and even tore his own rib cartilage half-way through the return after hurdling over a wannabe tackler.
  • Eli Manning’s 10 yard touchdown run at Wembley in 2007. For the 81,176 fans at the first ever regular season NFL game played in England it was the realisation of the dreams of fans like myself, who fell in love with the sport at a very young age but never even imagined they could see real NFL teams in a real NFL regular-season game. Manning’s scramble and the whole game may have been soggy and scrappy, but right there and then the NFL had truly ‘touched-down’ in England. 
  • Santana Moss’s 70 yard touchdown catch in 2005. Under four minutes left, down 13-0 and in Texas, Redskins wideout Moss caught not one but two bombs delivered by Mark Brunell. The second, a 70 yard catch, was the winner and helped his team to make it into the playoffs (later in the season).

More to come soon, but what do you think so far?

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The reason I wont be at Wembley on Sunday

I haven’t missed an NFL game at Wembley Stadium since 1987 (Los Angeles Rams v Denver Broncos) until tomorrow.

Whilst it has been painful to think that a real NFL regular season game is taking place about two hours drive from my doorstep tomorrow I do have a legitimate reason for not attending the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hosting the Chicago Bears in England – the birth of our first child Gabriella Ruby Vos.

Gabriella is just over two weeks old, but in terms of due date she arrived almost two weeks early so there was never a chance I was even going to have bought a ticked to the 2011 NFL International game.

For the first time since 2007 I will be watching the two NFL teams that have made it over to this side of the pond from the warmth of our living room, wearing shorts and a t-shirt.

I love the game atmosphere and the fact I am witnessing a game that actually counts, but I never loved the weather in late October – its usually raining at Wembley and it is normally quite nippy.

Watching the game at home will be a new experience – and a much cosier one.

I am gutted that I wont get to see Devin Hester electrify Wembley with his dazzling kickoff and punt return skills, gutted I wont see Julius Peppers attacking Buccs offensive tackles with his super-human wingspan, and gutted I wont see the Bald warrior Brian Urlacher (makes me sound like a Bears fan!).

I hope Tampa come back with winning on their mind as they were pretty awful when they last came over and got embarrassed by Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.

My predictions for the game are as follows:

  • Score – Buccs 20-17 Bears
  • Game MVP Earnest Graham the unsung Buccs RB who is the perfect workhorse do-it-all backup and a man who deserves more love.
To all the fans from England, Great Britain, Europe and those coming from the Stars and Stripes I would like to wish you all a great day out in London, which I hope stays dry and sunny.
Raise a glass of ripoff Wembley beer from me and have a great day.
Ill be back in 2012 for the 6th annual NFL International Game – maybe NFL people will even bring the game forward so its a bit warmer – Roger why can’t you do September in London sir?

Ill miss putting on my Art Monk shirt and seeing the Wembley arches.

The Bucs are coming back to Wembley.......maybe.

It was announced earlier this week that the NFL will be coming back to London for a fifth consecutive regular season showcase*.

* = Pending current lockout resolution by August 1. If unresolved game will be played in Tampa Bay, Florida.

This is fantastic news in the midst of quite a depressing offseason. I for one did not think the NFL would commit to a game in London this season, so finding out the Chicago Bears will be coming over from the Windy City to play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is a real Easter treat.

It was the ’85 Bears, led by Jim McMahon, Walter Payton, Mike Singletary and Richard Dent that got me hooked on the greatest sport on earth.

In 1986 the Bears came and played the Cowboys in a pre-season game in London, unfortunately I was only 11 at the time and although I have a game program from the contest (given to me by my dad’s lovers son in law) I did not get to go to game itself.

The Bears are an institution here in England. They will always hold fond memories for those fans who were introduced to the NFL in the early and mid 1980s.

This game in October will be the first time that the NFL has scheduled two teams from the same conference, the NFC, and will also be the first time that a team has come back for a second bite of the NFL in London experience.

My register of interest form was filled in as soon as it came into my inbox.

Now I just have to wait and see if a bunch of billionaires and millionaires can get round the table and sort themselves out. Hey i’ll come out and be a peace ambassador for a small fee and some sideline passes for the game in October.

Roger – come on fella, you wouldn’t want to make 80,000 NFL fans in England mad would you?