Posts Tagged ‘Ricky Williams’

Having not seen NFL football live since last October (New Orleans Saints v San Diego Chargers at Wembley Stadium) it was with an overwhelming feeling of enthusiasm and anticipation that I (and my lovely wife) settled into our seats in section 107 of the lower tier of Land Shark Stadium to see the Miami Dolphins play the Buffalo Bills.

With the Bills at 1-2 and the Dolphins at 0-3 AND with 2nd year QB Chad Henne making his first start ever in the NFL I did think this could be a rather ugly festival of field goals – ending something to the tune of 9-6.

Well after my wife shelled out for the tickets for my birthday I thought regardless of the score it would be an amazing experience, and after all the sun was shining and I was in Florida in October, not in the wet and cold West Midlands.

Out came the giant inflatable and the smoke - no this was not as seedy as it sounds

Out came the giant inflatable and the smoke - no this was not as seedy as it sounds

The game began with a short  pass from Bills QB Trent Edwards to Terrell ‘TO’ Owens,  one game too late, as he had his huge consecutive catch in a game streak snapped in Week 3.

That pretty much was the highlight of the first quarter, as a side from a Rian Lindell missed field goal it was a battle of field  position, as the two division rivals poked and  prodded each other but no-one managed to throw a proverbial connecting punch.

Rookie CB Vontae Davis scored the first td on an INT return

Rookie CB Vontae Davis scored the first td on an INT return

Thankfully the  second quarter saw some early fireworks, and following  an opening  field goal for the Dolphins Trent Edwards did what he does best and threw an interception.

Rookie Miami CB Vontae Davis took the pick to da house and in the blink of an eye the Dolphins were 10-0 up and the home crowd were rocking.

The Dolphins exuded confidence in the second quarter

The Dolphins exuded confidence in the second quarter

It sure was fun seeing the 2008 overall #1 pick in the draft Jake Long #77 (far left of my picture above).

I always take time to follow individual players in games as well as following the ball. Seeing some of the key matchups in the flesh is terrific fun, and watching Jake block anyone who gets near him proves that not every team’s superstar is a QB or a gobby WR.

Ronnie Brown scores his first TD of the day ........just !

Ronnie Brown scores his first TD of the day ........just !

The Bills did pull back with a fg in the second but the Dolphins running game was beginning to dominate and Ronnie Brown went in from a yard out to establish a 14 point lead.Miami again had the lions share of possession with over ten minutes of ball control in the second quarter.

Halftime – Dolphins 17-03 Bills. 

During week 4 players and coaches wore pink items to promote breast cancer awareness  the NFL supported  a campaign to  get women to have breast cancer screenings.

If you look closely at my pictures you will see the players gloves, shoes and sweat bands feature the colour pink.In this world of commercial greed this was one advertising campaign that had universal approval.

The cheerleaders also wore pink to raise awareness of the  screening programme, and the giant HD screens promoted the initiative too.The screens also had some fun videos from the likes of Fegie from the Black Eyed Peas telling the fans to ‘Fin up’ and give it some boom boom pow.

With Fred Jackson continuing to get most of the snaps at running back in the second half the Bills tried to claw back some of the deficit but Trent Edwards continued to stink as he threw three interceptions in the game and was sacked more than cheetos on a Walmart.

Not that I was lookingat them but the cheerleaders wore pink too

Not that I was looking at them but the cheerleaders wore pink too.

The stadium was not quite full but considering the two teams had combined for one win between them in three weeks it was still a very good crowd of over 65,000.

 

Ronnie Brown scored late to seal the win

Ronnie Brown scored late to seal the win

This game was fun to watch and is the highest amount of points I have seen scored in an NFL game in USA that I have had the honour of attending.

The Dolphins looked far far better than their 1-3 record.
Final score Miami Dolphins 38-10  Buffalo Bills.
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It’s a long and somewhat depressing off-season. Six months of guessing, planning, bragging, but above all not a single minute of regular season NFL action that means a jot.

So what is there to do in the wasteland between March and September?

Well there is baseball and even basketball, but despite almost 20 years of trying I cannot emotionally attach myself to the likes of the Denver Nuggets or the New York Yankees.

As a six year old to relieve boredom I recall my father buying me a sticker album, Panini Football 1980. To my non-European readers I refer to the round ball variety of football.

It was there that I remember the initial joy of opening packets of stickers (which I recall cost 5 pence a packet) to see if I could pull out a shiny silver badge or a famous player such as Liverpool star Kenny Dalglish or my childhood football hero Viv Anderson (a defender for Nottingham Forest and the first African Caribbean player to play for England).

Growing up in a small town in Surrey (a county below London on a map) I did not live near to a major football team so I chose the team to support based on the team sticker that had the most trophies by the players feet.

Back in 1980 Nottingham Forest were the best team in England and Europe under the genius that was Brian Clough, so I said to myself that would be my team. Little did I know that almost 30 years later I and most other Nottingham Forest fans would still be harking back to those glory days, with little to show for it in terms of trophies earned in the past three decades.

So I have football stickers to blame for my love of Nottingham Forest starting in 1980, and 29 years later I still share the same childlike excitement for opening packets of cards to see if I can pull a rare card or a limited edition one.

It is interesting in England that children in 2009 will potentially commence their love for collecting stickers the same way I did all those years ago, just like American children will open their first pack of NFL trading cards and share the passion for collecting small pieces of card.

Somebody somwhere was happy when they opened a pack and got this Matt Ryan card - on sale for $500 on EBay today

Somebody somwhere was happy when they opened a pack and got this Matt Ryan card - on sale for $500 on EBay today

Growing up in the 1980s I became obsessed with all things NFL and I recall that in 1987 Topps released a set of NFL cards. They were smaller than the set issued in the United States in both physical size and collection size.

I used to save up money given to me to get the bus to school to buy these cards and I remember sending off for the small collection box to keep my collection safe.

I would read all the stats on the back of each card and flick through the collection in boring lessons such as Music or Religious Education.

My music teacher Mrs Nye in fact confiscated my collection for a whole term (semester) as I was paying more attention to them than I was to playing an electric keyboard.

I did get them back the very first day of the next term and vowed to never bring them back to school. I can proudly say that I still have that collection, featuring the likes of Joe Montana, Dan Fouts and Dan Marino.

Where my interest began - a 1987 Topps Dan Marino card

Where my interest began - a 1987 Topps Dan Marino card

From then for about the next 15 years that was the only interaction I had with NFL trading cards, until one day at work in 2002 I was talking to a rather beefy looking businessman about the NFL.

He shared my love for American football and told me that he had a signed Walter Payton shirt hanging up in his office that he won on an Internet auction site called EBay.

After he told me how much he payed I quickly gave up on the idea of collecting full size NFL players shirts.

He must have seen that I was not exactly wealthy and suggested that I bid for an NFL trading card which is signed or has a small piece cut from an NFL players shirt.

I was very excited to even think I could own a small (very small in fact) piece of shirt worn by an NFL athlete in a real NFL game.

He told me that rookie players are the ones worth the most money so I bid for a card featuring the 2001 Heisman Tropy winner Eric Crouch and a small piece of a brown leather football that he had held.

I won the auction, and from then on I have spent time over the last 6 years collecting various cards on Ebay, as well as purchasing packets (an even on one occasion a full box) of NFL trading cards when visiting the USA.

I have not made any bids in 2009 but I get the feeling my wife would kill me if she saw a return of the small brown bubble envelopes dropping through our letterbox with remarkable regularity.

I am still waiting for the day that I pull an amazing cad from a pack I have purchased, as opposed to bidding for the card I know I have a chance of winning on EBay.

Cards I have pulled include; one with a piece of ball used by the Dolphins Ricky Williams in 2003 v the Buffalo Bills; one with a piece of the shirt held up by Calvin Johnson when he was drafted by the Detroit Lions and an autograph of former Ravens quarterback Kyle Boller.

I have emailed all the USA based card companies in the past and they have been kind enough to send me free cards and even card buying guides.

It’s a fun hobby for sure, provided you do not become obsessed, and providing you have the spare cash to indulge.

Above all it’s something to do during the tedium of the off-season, and what with the 2009 NFL Rookie Draft just weeks away, my advice would be to snap up any Rookie cards when they come up on EBay.

You could get a signed rookie card for a quarterback drafted in the sixth round for a very reasonable price! And we all know which three time Superbowl winning quarterback was a 6th round pick don’t we!

So does anyone else admit to collecting NFL trading cards? And if yes what was your best ever pull?

Lights Out is heading to Wembley - Pic by Doug Pensinger, Getty Images North America

Lights Out is heading to Wembley - Pic by Doug Pensinger, Getty Images North America

The San Diego Chargers have officially announced this afternoon that Shawne ‘Lights Out’ Merriman, their outstanding linebacker will ‘forego surgery on his knee’ to play in the 2008 NFL season.

This is fantastic news for all the NFL fans in England (and other parts of the UK and in Europe) who will make the annual pilgrimage to Wembley Stadium to see the Chargers take on the New Orleans Saints in London on October 26, in only the second NFL regular season game to take place in Europe.

Lights Out is a beast, a human wrecking machine, and 39.5 sacks in 42 career games is proof that he is a true superstar.

Only Merriman will know if he is kidding himself by saying that he will play through the pain. He does risk blowing his entire career, but with the 2008 NFL season just over a week away, its just too appetising for Shawne to not want to taste success.

The Chargers have a realistic shot at the Superbowl this season, and Merriman is one of the keys to victory, with his high adrenaline play and his ability to frighten the heck out of opposing teams.

It’s no coincidence that Merriman wears #56 after the Hall of Fame stud and former New York Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor. It was Taylor who redefined the game, making left offensive tackles get much bigger salaries.

Look at the #1 pick in the NFL draft this year – offensive lineman Jake Long. He was drafted to protect the quarterback from the likes of Merriman, as much as to clear the lanes for Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown.

Having the NFL circus come to England in 2008 will again be special, waving a torch because Merriman will be looking to turn Drew Brees lights out makes it just that bit more special.

Merriman you are a brave man and NFLFANINENGLAND salutes your decision.

Good or bad idea – let me know……