The NFL returns to Wembley Stadium

KekeTheKing

Banned
Supporter
As some of you may know, the United States' favorite sport is being exported to England once again this weekend.

Football, or American Football to the rest of the world, has become sort of a religion in the States that requires any self-respecting male to dedicate the 1PM-7PM time block on Sundays to eating food, drinking beer, and watching TV. Most other sports become somewhat of an afterthought on Sundays once the football season starts. (Except for of course F1 which doesn't conflict with the NFL time slots at all)

This is now the 4th year that we have sent two teams across the pond to battle on the hallowed ground of Wembley Stadium, and unfortunately it is the 4th straight year that there has been a rather uninspiring matchup. This year's contest pits two of the worst teams in the league against each other in a game that will not have any playoff implications whatsoever.

The San Francisco 49ers were a trendy pick before the season to spring a surprise on everybody and compete with the big boys. It hasn't worked out that way as they stand at 1-6, having played poorly in nearly every facet of the game. The 49ers quarterback, Troy Smith, will be making his first start since 2007, and only the third of his career. The Denver Broncos are coming off an absolute butt-kicking by the Oakland Raiders, and their 2-5 record is a far cry from last year's 6-0 start. Both teams might be glad to get out of the country and try their hand on foreign soil.

Is there any interest in this game at all over there? Did you guys watch the previous games played in London, and if so, what did you think?

Feel free to ask any questions, or make any comments regarding NFL football, as I don't often get to discuss this topic with anybody outside the US, and I honestly don't know what kind of interest these games in London generate.
 

Brogan

🦶 Leg end
Staff Member
Many years ago, I did actually play American Football with the guys from the US Air Force base which was just up the road from me.
I enjoyed it but Rugby will always be my first love when it comes to sport of that ilk.

As for watching it, I always enjoyed playing more than watching.
I did try for quite a few seasons but gradually drifted away after I stopped playing due to moving house.

I expect the game will be well attended but it's fair to say it's not a well followed sport over here at all.
 

cider_and_toast

Exulted Lord High Moderator of the Apex
Staff Member
Premium Contributor
I remember back in the 80's there was quite a following for American Football at my school. It's when "The Refigerator" Perry was playing and Dan Marino. I know the Super Bowl was shown live on TV and it was getting quite a few viewers.

As for TV coverage now, I believe there is normally a late night programme (we're talking 1am here) on Channel 5 that covers the games but most American Football is shown on ESPN Sports and Sky Sports which are pay per view so they are not going to generate the level of interest that they would if they were open to all.

As for the game itself, I think what puts most people off of it on this side of the ditch is that it is seen as a poor mans Rugby. Most people can't get their heads around the sheer size of the teams with the various different plays and the fact that games seem to take around 4 hours to play.

Having said that, I play Rugby so I'm always going to be a bit biased but I wouldn't mind giving American Football a go. There aren't many places to play it over here though.

There was a European American Football league with teams from across Europe but it failed a few years back due to lack of interest. I remember the London Monarchs (I think that's what they were called) played the Rheinland Fire at Bristol City's football ground and it really wrecked the pitch because of the number of lines and numbers that had to be painted on everything.
 

Galahad

Not a Moderator
Valued Member
I remember NFL being quite big in the UK in the 1980s and early 1990s like c_a_t - Channel 4 showed the Superbowl live for a number of years and made a reasonable effort to promote it. My brother was a linebacker for his university team too.

At one time I was quite an enthusiast - a Chiefs fan for reasons long forgotten - and I still keep an eye on the scores, though I don't know any of the personalities any more. I caught highlights of the first Wembley game, which I recall was played in terrible conditions(?).

Speaking of the London Monarchs, they played at White Hart Lane (my soccer team's stadium) for one season. Not a popular move, at all, even though our goalscoring legend Clive Allen was the Monarchs' kicker for a short while.

Needless to say as a Chiefs fan I'm resolutely anti-Bronco for this one!
 

KekeTheKing

Banned
Supporter
Galahad said:
I caught highlights of the first Wembley game, which I recall was played in terrible conditions(?).

Terrible, appalling, abysmal. Any of those could sum up the playing conditions encountered in that 2007 affair. I'm not sure whether it was due to newly laid sod, the English rain, the sheer size of the human beings that make up a modern NFL roster, or a combination of all three, but it was brutal, and I don't think it would have left a good impression on the fans that attended. Not to mention the fact that the 0-7 Miami Dolphins were one of the teams involved, going on to win just a single game that year.
 

Speshal

World Champion
Valued Member
KekeTheKing said:
Is there any interest in this game at all over there? Did you guys watch the previous games played in London, and if so, what did you think?

500,000 people applied for the 60,000 tickets available for this game, so yeah I'd say it's fairly popular LOL

We get a live Sunday game in the early hours of Monday morning that I'll watch if I'm awake.
 

KekeTheKing

Banned
Supporter
cider_and_toast said:
Most people can't get their heads around the sheer size of the teams with the various different plays and the fact that games seem to take around 4 hours to play.

Interesting points. Aside from the name, Football, the American version has little to nothing in common with its worldwide brethren.

Substitutions are part and parcel to Futbol Americano, and if they were limited, as in Soccer (forgive me), I have no doubts that each and every team would finish the game under-manned.

Two Sunday's ago in the NFL there were three devastating helmet to helmet hits which left players with severe concussions, putting them out of action for the next game. The league office then decided that it was going to start cracking down on malicious head shots, starting with the three offending players from that week, doling out fines of 50,000, and 75,000 dollars respectively.

All of this is going in with talk of adding two more regular season games to the schedule, upping the total to 18, when a player is already considered fortunate if he can make it through a 16 game season unscathed.

Some of the players from past era's have pointed to equipment advances (lighter and stronger helmets, air cushioned shoulder pads, etc..) as the reason we've been seeing more vicious hits, and subsequent head injuries. They think that modern players have lost the art of form-tackling, where a player is taught to tackle with his head up, instead of lowered like a projectile. I mention this because of everyone's comments about rugby, where I know there are a bunch of big collisions every match, without the protection of a helmet. I'd be interested to know if you guys see concussions often in the top Rugby leagues, as I can kind of see a parallel between rugby and old-school football players that wore a fairly pathetic excuse for a protective device on their head.
 

cider_and_toast

Exulted Lord High Moderator of the Apex
Staff Member
Premium Contributor
KekeTheKing said:
Some of the players from past era's have pointed to equipment advances (lighter and stronger helmets, air cushioned shoulder pads, etc..) as the reason we've been seeing more vicious hits, and subsequent head injuries. They think that modern players have lost the art of form-tackling, where a player is taught to tackle with his head up, instead of lowered like a projectile. I mention this because of everyone's comments about rugby, where I know there are a bunch of big collisions every match, without the protection of a helmet. I'd be interested to know if you guys see concussions often in the top Rugby leagues, as I can kind of see a parallel between rugby and old-school football players that wore a fairly pathetic excuse for a protective device on their head.

Reminds me a lot of a quote I once read about boxing that stated there were far fewer deaths in bare knuckle days of the sport because if you cracked someone on the jaw you usually ended up with a broken hand before you did any damage to the other boxer. Now that boxers wear big padded gloves the number of times they get smacked about the head has increased and body shots are almost a thing of the past.

I think that backs up the very point you've made, Keke. In rugby you do see players battered and bruised but on the whole all 30 players who start the 80 minutes do tend to walk off the field at the end of it (aside of course from those substituted). Part of the art of the tackle in rugby is bringing the player down and allowing your team a chance to win the ball back and turn over the play. Only the player with the ball can be tackled so there are far less tackles during the game than in the NFL plus there are very few head on tackles. Most rugby tackles happen either at very slow pace, i.e. the attacking player has travelled a few yards before he is tackled or a player can often be caught and tackled on the run. There isn't the blocking tackles that you see in NFL as that would be illegal. When we tackle in rugby it's with the head well out of the way. You want to go in at around the attackers waist and wrap your arms around him and bring him down with your weight and momentum. To go in head first would risk a serious neck injury and wouldn't be a very effective way of tackling.
 

Enja

isn't dead.
Valued Member
*looks at Dallas Cowboys avatar*

*sneaks off*

The NFL is brilliant, shame the IS won't be on terrestrial TV this year, hasn't been since '08. I have to make do with SNF on C4 and illegal streams, unfortunately..
 

teabagyokel

#dejavu
Valued Member
KekeTheKing said:
Some of the players from past era's have pointed to equipment advances (lighter and stronger helmets, air cushioned shoulder pads, etc..) as the reason we've been seeing more vicious hits, and subsequent head injuries. They think that modern players have lost the art of form-tackling, where a player is taught to tackle with his head up, instead of lowered like a projectile. I mention this because of everyone's comments about rugby, where I know there are a bunch of big collisions every match, without the protection of a helmet. I'd be interested to know if you guys see concussions often in the top Rugby leagues, as I can kind of see a parallel between rugby and old-school football players that wore a fairly pathetic excuse for a protective device on their head.

There has actually been similar comments about rugby union, with an increasing amount of injuries blamed on the superior physique in the professional era (union was an amateur sport up to 1995) compared to the amateur days when players were unable to train so much due to having jobs to hold down.

As far as I can see, NFL gets an airing on Sky for the Wembley games and for the Super Bowl, but rarely elsewhere. This is not particularly an oddity; e.g. tennis only ever gets mass media exposure during Wimbledon; the BBC have the rights to the Australian and French Opens but marginalise coverage, shunting everything but Murray matches and the final on to the Red Button.

It is difficult to follow most sports in Britain, particularly if you don't have a Sky Sports subscription. If you don't then only football, F1, MotoGP, snooker, half of darts and possibly rugby union (casually) or league (in t'North) can be reasonably followed. If you do have Sky, then you gain blanket cricket coverage, tennis and much more exposure to both rugby codes and football, in addition to the other half of darts.

After that, its all in the lap of the Eurosport Gods.
 

Speshal

World Champion
Valued Member
teabagyokel said:
It is difficult to follow most sports in Britain, particularly if you don't have a Sky Sports subscription. If you don't then only football, F1, MotoGP, snooker, half of darts and possibly rugby union (casually) or league (in t'North) can be reasonably followed.

The MotoGP qualifying (which was cancelled due to rain) was meant to be on the red button but was only online :givemestrength:
 

Enja

isn't dead.
Valued Member
teabagyokel said:
As far as I can see, NFL gets an airing on Sky for the Wembley games and for the Super Bowl, but rarely elsewhere.

Maybe I misunderstood your post, but I think you'll find the NFL is on every Sunday on Sky, two games, and they're now doing the Thursday night games too. ESPN does the MNF, and SNF goes to Channel 4. Not that much of it counts for me since I don't have Sky :thinking:
 
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