Posts Tagged ‘NFL Wembley’

The Vikings and Steelers season had been like these inflatables - full of hot air.

The Vikings and Steelers season had been like these inflatables – full of hot air.

Streaking, not a man with a shaved head and his shriveled tackle swinging side to side as he gets chased by stadium security, but the ability to do something consecutively.

Streaking is something I like to do, so it was with regret that I missed the NFL regular season games played at Wembley Stadium in 2011 and 2012, after watching games in the flesh between 2007 and 2010. I was unable to attend as I had more important matters to attend to, namely the birth of our daughter in October 2011, and her development as a 1 year old in 2012.

Going back to Wembley this year was a 2012 Christmas present, that I had to wait ten months to unwrap. I also had the rather unwanted gift of travelling down from Birmingham by coach alone, as my wife and almost two-year-old daughter were not going to have as much fun on the M6 with me.

After getting to Birmingham’s revamped coach station an hour before the coach arrived I was then told the departure time had moved and the coach would be leaving an hour after it was scheduled, so I had to take my time sipping my cappuccino, munching on some Polo mints and listening to the latest Rich Eisen podcast.

Wembley Way was packed.

Wembley Way was packed.

I didn’t open my mouth during the journey to Wembley, as the guy I sat next to looked rather angry and wanted to sleep. I listened to a few more podcasts, the latest ESPN Fantasy Focus Football podcast and Tuesday Morning Quarterback. I ate some Wine Gums and almost choked as the man beside me scoffed not one but two rather bulbous scotch eggs.

Arriving at Wembley was a bit frustrating as we drove straight past what I thought was the coach car park, around the back of the stadium, and to what must have been a smaller over-spill coach park.

As I arrived about 3.30pm the place was buzzing and there was an eclectic range of NFL shirts, worldwide NFL fans and sellers of unauthorised and inappropriate (as in irrelevant) dodgy game day scarves.

My first task of the day was to find my internet friend from Minnesota.

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Greg is heading to Wembley in six months

Greg is heading to Wembley in six months

Last season the Minnesota Vikings relied so heavily on Adrian Peterson their second year quarterback Christian Ponder looked like he had forgotten the art of the forward pass.

So when the Seattle Seahawks signed the Vikes best receiving weapon at the start of Free Agency, WR Mr Percy Harvin, the situation got even uglier.

I was with a sense if relief that Minnesota did find a rapid replacement in the shape of Super Bowl winning wideout Greg Jennings.

The Vikings also signed former Patriots and Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel. Hardly the headline news, but putting him and Ponder in a head to head battle will mean whoever gets the starting gig will be playing extra hard as they will want to keep that starting role.

Jennings will be familiar with the purple uniform having faced off against the Vikings twice a year for the past seven seasons during divisional game-play.

Greg, a former Western Michigan Bronco, is one of only ten football players from that college to be drafted into the NFL in the past 20 years. Other Broncos to gain some degree of fame in the NFL include tight-end Tony Scheffler (also drafted in 2006) and Jason Babin the defensive end (selected in the first round in 2004).

Jennings had 17 100+ games in college, second all time on his college team to NFL 2012 draft pick Jordan White (21 games).

Jennings becomes the biggest named wideout in Minnesota since Randy Moss. He will be hoping to get back on track with a 1000+ yard season, following an injury filled 2012 in Green Bay, where he has his worst output both by catches and yardage.

The two time Pr0-Bowler has already registered three 1100+seasons and two 900+ seasons, along with three 100+ yard playoff games and a two-touchdown performance in helping the Packers to win Super Bowl XLV against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

It will be the Steelers that Jennings will face again when the Vikings travel to London in September as part of the NFL’s first ever double dose of regular season football outside of America.

Of the two London games (Steelers @ Vikings and San Francisco 49ers @ Jacksonville Jaguars) on paper the Vikings game looks to be the most competitive, and was quicker to sell out.

Fans like myself (thanks to a Christmas gift from my beautiful wife) will be chomping at the bit to see the likes of Peterson and now Greg Jennings as they take on the Pittsburgh Steelers, the only team to win six Super bowls.

Both the Vikings and the Steelers will be hoping for string drafts, with some rookies that can make an immediate impact. Both teams need to improve their secondary, especially at cornerback. The Steelers lost the under-rated Keenan Lewis and the Vikings let veteran Antoine Winfield go.

With Greg Jennings looking to become not only a leader on the field, but also in the locker room, it will be fascinating to see what other pieces of the jigsaw the Vikings pick up en-route to the start of the 2013 season.

What other needs do YOU think are the most pressing for the Vikings?

The fashion police finally granted Mike Singletary (bottom right) day release to come back to England

 

The last time San Francisco 49ers head coach Mike Singletary was at Wembley Stadium was back in the 80s, as Da Bearz faced the the Dallas Cowboys in the American Bowl ’86.

Back then it was cool to rap in full uniform (minus pads and helmets) whilst simultaneously trying to pull off an impression of News at Ten legend Trevor McDonald.

Speaking today after touching down in London, the former middle linebacker and now head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, Mike Singletary said all the right things.

Asked about why he jetted the team to England one day after a tough loss to the Carolina Panthers, Coach Singletary said: ““I always believe that we want to give the guys a chance to get acclimated. If you’re going to come for just a couple of days – we know it’s a business trip and we know that we’re coming here to win a football game, but at the same time, we have a younger football team. I wanted our guys to be able to come and get a taste of the culture, and at the same time, get a feel for the environment. The weather and the whole nine yards, and just be settled by the time the game starts. I think it was a great decision.”

Asked about what this means to the Bears bank balance the steely eyed coach said: “I’m not sure, in terms of the financial gain one way or the other. I think more than anything, it’s the exposure. I think the NFL is a tremendous game. I think having a game here really gives the NFL a lot of exposure. I think it gives the people here – it’s a two-way street, the fans here have a chance to see the game. In what you call ‘futbol,’ I think there are some similarities. The fans could get very excited about it and want more of it. We’re hoping that is the case.”

Asked the inevitable question about the possibility of an NFL franchise permanently moving to London, England, the Super Bowl XX winner said: “It would depend on the team. That would be really interesting. It could be a good thing. It could be dependent on if the team is young. It depends on if it’s a mature team, if it’s a young team. I think if you had a mature team here, it could possibly work, and work to their advantage. I’m not trying to sell you on it, but I do believe it would have to be a veteran team, it couldn’t be a young team.”

So has Coach Mike been told something that everyone else is thinking? Moving an existing franchise from North America to Europe. I find it very interesting Coach Mike talks about a ‘mature team’ moving would be the only way it could work. That kind of says no to the likes of the Jacksonville Jaguars doing a Midnight Mayflower.

As my mind goes in all different directions I just want to say to all the San Francisco 49ers players, coaches and support staff – WELCOME TO ENGLAND. Few tips – stay away from the drink we call bitter, Jellied eels are NOT the English version of gummy bears and make sure if you do have some Fish and Chips you make sure you get cod and not that rubbish pollack.