Tuesday, 27 October 2009

“Old Blighty”, NFL plays

The game might not have been the most exciting, but it did help the NFL move the ball a bit further down the field towards its goal of at least MORE games abroad…and maybe even an international team.
The New England Patriots beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 35-7 Sunday at the third regular season NFL game to be played overseas.
The game was played before a sell out crowd of 84,254 at London’s Wembley Stadium which usually plays home to the soccer (or “football”) crowd. And if you think it was just an ex-pat crowd you’d be wrong.
“The vast majority of the crowd were British fans of the sport,” NFL UK publicist David Tossell told me. And the majority of them came from outside London, some even from continental Europe.
For their trouble, aside from the somewhat one-sided game, the fans got singers Toni Braxton and Katherine Jenkins in a battle of the national anthems, flags and graphics which gave the game the feel of a “home” Tampa Bay game, and the very well- received Tampa Bay Buccaneer cheer leaders.
So could there be more NFL games abroad next year? “It will take a little more groundwork to develop the fan base here,” NFL official Tossell told me. The teams don’t love the travel, and the owners miss the home game revenues.
But all spoke highly of the reception and the facilities. “It was like a Super Bowl,” New England Patriot quarterback Tom Brady is quoted as saying.
When the Giants played here in 2007 they went on to win the big game. It might work again for the Pats!

Friday, 23 October 2009

when Patriots play Buccaneers at Wemble, Brady, Belichick not expecting another blowout

Tom Brady and Bill Belichick aren't expecting another blowout when their New England Patriots face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday at Wembley Stadium.
The Patriots (4-2) crushed the Tennessee Titans 59-0 in the snow last Sunday, and they'll play a team this weekend that is 0-6.
"Last week was one of those games where a lot of things went right for us," Belichick said at The Oval cricket stadium, where the Patriots practiced Friday. "(It's) very unusual to have a game like that. I'll be lucky if I'll see another one of those in my entire career.
"We don't actually care about last week anymore. We're on to trying to defend and move the ball against Tampa and handle their kicking game."
Brady missed all but one quarter of the opener last season with a knee injury, but he is back this season and threw six touchdown passes last Sunday against the Titans.
"I like where our team's at. Keep practicing hard and keep making improvements," Brady said. "Whatever we did last week, you take the good from it, you understand the things you did well."
The NFL is playing a regular season game in the British capital for the third straight year, and commissioner Roger Goodell said Friday he expects the league to start playing multiple regular-season games in Britain in the next few years.
The Patriots arrived in London early Friday morning, giving them only one full day in London on Saturday before the game at Wembley, the home of England's national football team and host stadium for the 1948 Olympics.
"It's one of the best-known stadiums in Europe," said Patriots linebacker Sebastian Vollmer, who is from Germany and noted that England won the 1966 World Cup final at the iconic venue. "Germany lost, but I think it's going to be good. Really good."
Last year, the New Orleans Saints and San Diego Chargers spent almost a week in London getting acclimated to the time change, but the Patriots and Buccaneers arrived late — much like the New York Giants and Miami Dolphins did two years ago.
"What we tried to do was to get all our work done in New England, all our preparation," Belichick said of the late arrival. "We tried to cram three days ... into 2 1/2 (before arriving)."
Now that they're in Britain, the team's schedule will be easy until game time, with only a light practice at The Oval on Friday afternoon and a walkthrough at Wembley on Saturday. That will give the players some free time, if they want it.
Patriots linebacker Junior Seau said he wanted to go see "something that's within a mile. Then I'm going to go back and take a nap."
Seau said it was his first time in London, and he wasn't at all upset that the fans back in the United States wouldn't get to see the Patriots and Buccaneers play there. Tampa Bay gave up a home game to play at Wembley.
"They've seen enough of us live," Seau said. "It's time for us to come to London."
Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who called himself an Anglophile and said he is a regular at Wimbledon, was also glad with the decision to send his team to London for a game.
"When you get to Wimbledon and the have an chance to own a team that's going to play at Wembley, that's pretty cool," Kraft said. "I'm looking forward to that."
American football is not nearly as popular in London as the English version, but Wembley has still been packing in the NFL fans over the last few years. Many will be there this year to see Brady, one of the greatest quarterback to ever play the game. But despite being relatively anonymous in London, he still doesn't go unnoticed.
"Americans, they recognize me," Brady said with a smile.