impressions of wembley game
posted at 10/29/2009 12:24 PM EDTForgive me if this subject has already been thoroughly discussed in other threads, but I just got back from London and have not had a chance to read messages on this board the last few days.
The game was a fantastic experience. I know a lot of people don't like the idea of having NFL games played in London, but from what I experienced, there are a lot of really interested and knowledgeable British and other European fans. On the subway ride to the stadium, I sat next to and talked with two guys from Glasgow going to the game together, one all decked out in Patriots' gear and one in Tampa Bay gear. The Tampa Bay guy had lived in Florida for a number of years and become a fan of the team. I think there's probably a fair number of Brits who spend some time in the US and become fans of the local team. (I once met another Brit who had lived in Boston and become a huge Sox fan.) There were a lot of Americans at the game, of course, but from what I could hear, most were British, with some Germans and others thrown in. I must have seen jerseys from every team in the NFL, but there seemed to be more Patriot jerseys than any other. I read somewhere in one of the British newspapers while I was there that the Patriots were the most popular NFL team in Britain. During the game itself, I sat between two groups of British fans. One member of the group on my right was wearing a Brady jersey. I talked a lot with the guy on my left, a Brit who had become a Forty-Niners' fan in the '80s. He had his two sons with him, both wearing Forty-Niners' jerseys and a friend of theirs, who was a Colts' fan. The father was extremely knowledgeable about American football and said he preferred it to soccer. I think he said something like it was a more "intellectual" game, which you don't hear that often. I am kind of embarrassed to admit that he saw a lot of things going on that I missed. It was amazing that the only NFL games he had ever seen live were the games at Wembley. He'd never seen a game in the U.S.
I would not mind seeing an NFL franchise in London myself since it's a great city and a great place to visit. It's hard to believe a team in London would not get a lot of support. There are 10 million plus people just in greater London, and a lot more people just a train journey or short flight away. American football is the biggest sport in America. I don't see any reason why it can't come close to rivaling soccer (which I also think is a great sport--not at all boring, as some people on this board have said) in Britain and elsewhere.